Grant-Making Policy
Introduction

At least annually, the Trustees of Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF), a Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered number 1151621, review guidance issued by the Charity Commission to ensure there is public benefit with regard to OCF’s charitable purpose:

  • The promotion of any charitable purposes for the benefit of the community in the area currently known as the County of Oxfordshire and its immediate neighbourhood, and in particular the advancement of education, the protection of good health, both mental and physical, and the relief of poverty and sickness
  • Other exclusively charitable purposes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere which are in the opinion of the Foundation beneficial to the community, with a preference for those in the area of benefit.

Delivery of OCF’s grant-making and wider community impact activities is integral to this charitable purpose, and as part of OCF’s 2020 Strategy the trustees have carried out a full review of our grant-making policy. This resulted in a number of changes to grant eligibility and assessment processes, ensuring they continued to work within the context of our five strategic objectives:

  • To achieve a step change in our collaborative philanthropy
  • To develop a knowledge hub of Oxfordshire’s voluntary sector and key social and community problems
  • To work in partnership to develop community-based solutions
  • To adopt a strategic, transparent and proactive approach to the distribution of OCF funds
  • To enhance our organisational capabilities and infrastructure to deliver our growth ambitions.

This document dated March 2018 is the current OCF Grant-Making Policy, and replaces any earlier dated versions.

Distribution of OCF funds

One of OCF’s five strategic objectives is to adopt a strategic, transparent and proactive approach to the distribution of OCF funds.

Adoption of the wording ‘distribution of OCF funds’ was considered important to ensure OCF’s charitable purpose could extend beyond grant-making in terms of the ‘promotion’ or support provided by OCF, eg to invest in resources that would enhance capabilities to deliver increased impact, such as the development of Reciprocate – OCF responsible business group.

This approach has helped to establish an annual budget available to support OCF’s grant-making for each financial year, which runs from 1st April to 31st March, as part of the business planning process that is approved by the Board of Trustees.

OCF grants programmes

OCF provides a variety of grant programmes that help community groups and charities in Oxfordshire improve people’s lives:

  • Our Small and Vital programme makes it quick and easy for grassroots community groups to apply for small amounts of funding that make a big difference to very local, volunteer-led activities.
  • Our Delivering Impact grants programme is focused on the same broad causes from Oxfordshire Uncovered, and provides support to address the social problems we outlined there. Each grants round has a focus on a relevant theme, and OCF is willing to provide core costs as well as project funding.
  • Our Step Change Fund is focused on getting top-quality charitable organisations ready to make a bigger impact, supporting infrastructure developments with substantial funding.

The Community Impact Panel will continue to meet and review assessments for grant applications submitted to the first two programme areas; the Step Change Fund is overseen by a separate panel, under the umbrella of OCF.

A rolling annual calendar defines the focus of each planned panel meeting to ensure that annual grant-making covers all the priority action areas of Oxfordshire Uncovered. By reviewing applications addressing similar problems at the same time, we are able to identify the best and most effective projects more easily, and use our limited resources most efficiently.

OCF understands that we need to identify the most pressing and relevant causes to achieve the greatest impact where it is most needed. We plan to build on the broad foundations created in our Oxfordshire Uncovered report to narrow down which aspects of housing and homelessness, children and families, and loneliness and isolation should form our focus for the next few years. Using research tools such as OCSI’s Local Insights, we will specify priority causes (eg educational attainment) and priority geographies (eg Banbury), based on evidence showing which issues affect Oxfordshire most acutely.

Ahead of each panel OCF will have produced an evidence paper to highlight the key areas of need for the panel.

Specific arrangements relating to each programme

Small and Vital

Grassroots funding to support small organisations by making the application process simpler. Reduced assessment, fewer supporting documents required and no reference requested. The office will provide a table of recommendations for each panel in line with the Terms of Reference and funds available.

Delivering Impact

This is the programme that will host the majority of OCF’s community impact grant-making eg Comic Relief, #iwill, Community Integration Grants. Some panels may require additional expert panellists to be co-opted, or a bespoke panel made up of donors and OCF trustees, in line with the Terms of Reference for the Community Impact Panel. Detailed Terms of Reference for each panel will be available.

Step Change

This fund has its own bespoke terms of reference, application form and panel. No change from existing arrangements.

The panel – Terms of Reference (ToR)

The Community Impact Panel is a Committee of the Board of Trustees, which has delegated responsibility to approve expenditure from charitable funds to ensure their effective and strategic distribution for community impact on behalf of the Foundation.

The Panel comprises a minimum of two Board members (appointed by the Board), with other volunteer members who have relevant expertise and experience of the local communities of Oxfordshire and the social needs that OCF has identified as priorities. The panel meets a minimum of four times a year and has discretion to increase the number of meetings, depending on need.

Where OCF enters into agreement with named fundholders, distribution of funds will be in line with individual eligibility criteria as set out in a Memorandum of Understanding and as signed off by the Chair of the Panel. The Community Impact Panel therefore has responsibility to distribute charitable funds to include both OCF general funds as well as restricted funds held on behalf of named donors.

The distribution of funds will be either a grant made payable to another charitable organisation, or the settlement of an invoice or direct fund expense incurred to support any of the following:

  • Activities of registered charities and other groups or individuals that meet the Foundation’s objects
  • Activities that are considered in support of the public benefit and are in line with the Foundation’s mission and strategic objectives, as agreed by the Trustees.

The Chair of the Board is an ex-officio member. The quorum for meetings is four members, two of whom must be full Board members. Approval of all decisions requires a majority.

The Chair of the Committee must be a trustee of the OCF Board and will be appointed by the Board for a term of three years. The Chair will present an annual plan of OCF grant-making for Board approval, which will identify:

  • Intended community impact of activities
  • How the plan supports OCF strategic objectives
  • Any significant changes to current eligibility or assessment process
  • Funds available for distribution for the year.

The Community Impact Panel is a Committee of the Board of Trustees, which has delegated responsibility to approve expenditure from charitable funds to ensure their effective and strategic distribution for community impact on behalf of the Foundation.

The Panel comprises a minimum of two Board members (appointed by the Board), with other volunteer members who have relevant expertise and experience of the local communities of Oxfordshire and the social needs that OCF has identified as priorities. The panel meets a minimum of four times a year and has discretion to increase the number of meetings, depending on need.

Where OCF enters into agreement with named fundholders, distribution of funds will be in line with individual eligibility criteria as set out in a Memorandum of Understanding and as signed off by the Chair of the Panel. The Community Impact Panel therefore has responsibility to distribute charitable funds to include both OCF general funds as well as restricted funds held on behalf of named donors.

The distribution of funds will be either a grant made payable to another charitable organisation, or the settlement of an invoice or direct fund expense incurred to support any of the following:

  • Activities of registered charities and other groups or individuals that meet the Foundation’s objects
  • Activities that are considered in support of the public benefit and are in line with the Foundation’s mission and strategic objectives, as agreed by the Trustees.

The Chair of the Board is an ex-officio member. The quorum for meetings is four members, two of whom must be full Board members. Approval of all decisions requires a majority.

The Chair of the Committee must be a trustee of the OCF Board and will be appointed by the Board for a term of three years. The Chair will present an annual plan of OCF grant-making for Board approval, which will identify:

  • Intended community impact of activities
  • How the plan supports OCF strategic objectives
  • Any significant changes to current eligibility or assessment process
  • Funds available for distribution for the year.
General eligibility criteria

Eligibility criteria are regularly updated and published in the grants section of the website.

Potential recipients

When distributing OCF funds, our first priority is to award grants where the level of OCF funding will have greatest impact and to organisations that can demonstrate they are meeting identified local need. We do not give to organisations with a charitable income of more than £1,000,000 p.a.

For organisations requiring £500-£1,500, we would suggest applying via the ‘Small and Vital’ programme. Those requiring £1,500-£10,000 should apply via the ‘Delivering Impact’ programme. For organisations seeking grants of over £10,000, an application should be made to our ‘Step Change’ programme.

End-of-grant monitoring

Applicants will receive a link to an online monitoring form, or in the case of the Step Change Fund, regular reports will be required either from project managers or the group directly.  These may be in the form of a report, attendance by a member of the office team or panel at an event, or via photographs/video provided by the group.

Material submitted may be used by OCF for publicity purposes, and groups will have agreed to this via their online application form. OCF shares its grant-making data on 360 Giving, a website for all funders to provide details of grants made.

OCF is currently reviewing, as at February 2018, our evaluation procedures, and it is anticipated we will share more of what does and doesn’t work during the coming months.

Impact report

An annual report produced by OCF with a focus on the impact of our grant-making includes reporting on:

  • Graphs showing geography/ethnicity/number of beneficiaries etc.
  • Testimonials and case studies, human stories.
KPIs

OCF will monitor:

  • The number of applications fully funded by OCF
  • The number of organisations who apply more than three times before they are successful (focus on feedback provided and assistance with improving quality of applications)
  • The number of organisations who ask for feedback following rejection vs the number of enquiries who have not received an outcome e-mail

As part of the business planning process we will agree what measures we will be focussing on when evaluating our effectiveness, eg Community Impact dashboards.

Complaints

Complaints will be dealt with in line with OCF’s Complaints and Appeals Policy, reviewed every two years.

 

Reviewed: January 2018
Date for next review: January 2019
Approved by Oxfordshire Community Foundation Board of Trustees on 19th March 2018