Guests at the event were treated to a warm welcome from the Fiennes family in the stunning surroundings of the castle, as well as an exclusive preview of the new Oxfordshire Uncovered report, and a virtuoso keynote speech by philosopher A.C. Grayling.
Broughton Castle, which is the family home of Martin Fiennes, was the setting for 90 local philanthropists, representatives from the charitable sector, private client advisors, and trusts and foundations to find out more about Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF). The key thread running through speeches and discussions during the day was that greater collaboration would be needed to make a real difference to those in our county that are deprived and struggling.
The programme of the day, including speaker bios, can be downloaded here. Proceedings began with a welcome from Tim Stevenson, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and OCF’s President. Highlighting OCF’s success so far, he commented: “On its 21st birthday, Oxfordshire Community Foundation is in great shape. It’s well and creatively managed; it has strong governance; it’s developing exciting plans for the ‘what next’.”
Guests then heard from local philanthropist Sir Dominic Cadbury, who has been working with the community foundation in neighbouring Heart of England to address some of the big social problems there. He concluded that the problems faced by many communities are too big for any one organisation to solve alone, and that community foundations must take the lead in collaborating with others such as charities, local government and the church to increase the amount of support and funding available.
Richard Kennell, founder of the South Oxfordshire Food and Education Alliance, went on to highlight the challenges that charities face when seeking funding, especially the fact that charities find themselves obliged to bend their work towards the eligibility criteria of a multiplicity of funders, rather than those funders listening to the needs of charities on the ground: “Often we’re asked to apply for funds for projects, which is fantastic – but what that ends up doing is actually putting more pressure on the organisation because it has to run something else as well as the things it really wants to do. So getting to know us and how best to support us would be fantastic. And that’s the role that Jayne and the community foundation have taken with us.”
Jayne Woodley, Chief Executive at OCF, spoke passionately about some of the key local challenges, which have been revealed as part of OCF’s new needs analysis Oxfordshire Uncovered. She said: “Oxfordshire has real inequality. I think it’s easy for us to forget that in this county, there are so many people who are not as fortunate as us. As part of this research we’ve spoken to a lot a people, and we’ve heard real stories of people who are going unheard and unseen. For example, just three miles down the road from today’s wonderful setting, there are three of the most deprived wards in the whole county.”
OCF’s Chair John Taylor ran through the community foundation’s new focus, which, he said was based on two prongs: to inspire local philanthropy, and to develop community-based solutions to the key social problems. Illustrating the first prong, Mark Beard, Director of a large local construction company, spoke about his experience of creating a charitable fund under OCF’s umbrella: “We looked at setting up our own foundation with our own charity number, and found the governance that went with that more than we were prepared to take on board. To be a partner of Oxfordshire Community Foundation felt a very good solution: it actually meant that we were part of something larger – we felt there was strength in a number of charities working together for the long term.”
John went on to challenge guests to consider their own philanthropy, whether through a trust or foundation or personal giving. Were they having a great enough impact and bringing in rounded expertise? Are funders collectively making it too difficult for charities to apply for money? Could efforts to assess impact be pooled? It was announced that a funders’ forum would be held later this year, on 13th October 2016, to continue the conversation. This is being led by OCF alongside representatives from the St Michael’s and All Saints Charity and the Future-Building Fund.
Videos of the opening speeches can be found on OCF’s YouTube channel.
Lively discussions ensued over lunch inside the castle’s Great Hall, where guests were joined by the castle’s current occupant Martin Fiennes and his parents Lord and Lady Saye and Sele. The day culminated in a much-anticipated keynote speech by eminent philosopher A.C. Grayling – an erudite, thought-provoking and amusing tour de force where Professor Grayling convinced us all that the more we give, the richer we become. A film of Professor Grayling’s speech can be seen below:
OCF would like to thank Martin Fiennes and Lord and Lady Saye and Sele most warmly for their excellent hospitality, which included private tours of the house for guests, as well as our anonymous donor whose sponsorship made the whole event possible. On departure, guests were presented with the full Oxfordshire Uncovered report and OCF’s 21st birthday impact report, which celebrates our history and the people and groups that have been part of it.