DonorsEventsFinancialNewsOCFFuture-Building Fund

Over the past two years, the Future-Building Fund has given significant infrastructure funding to a range of excellent local charities that wanted to scale up their operation. The fund’s success was celebrated at a small gathering of donors, and published in a new report.

Oxfordshire increasingly depends on the voluntary sector for the delivery of high-quality, affordable services. Organisations need to build capacity if they are to meet this need. At a time when local and central government funding has been drastically reduced, this has become an ever more critical issue.

Hosted by Oxfordshire Community Foundation, the Future-Building Fund was created by a group of passionate and insightful donors who wanted to support the charitable sector to grow and become more effective. They are using their philanthropy to reach the best of the 1,000 or so local charities that fit its size criteria. The aim is to encourage resilience and creative social entrepreneurship. The panel looks for organisations with high-quality, capable leaders, with a good chance of survival, that provide for an important social need and have a clear plan to expand what they do in a sustainable way.

Phase One of the Future-Building Fund has been a success. Since May 2014, it has committed £411,000 to 13 organisations in areas such as learning disability, citizens’ advice, sexual violence, young offenders, dementia and youth clubs. It has supported product development and business launches for social enterprises; volunteering to enable charities to deliver extra services cost-effectively; IT systems to support growth; and work to diversify funding sources.

The fund has attracted 37 expressions of interest from 31 organisations. The Grants Panel reviewed these and asked for 16 second-stage detailed applications to be made, of which 14 were granted (one organisation received two grants).

Now, with the support of the fund’s small group of donors, the Future-Building panel is embarking on Phase Two, with £500,000 already committed.

A report has been published explaining the background and how the fund is achieving its objectives: meeting social need in Oxfordshire by supporting organisations to make sustainable changes in the benefit they deliver to their communities. This report can be downloaded here.

The fund’s Chair Nigel Hamway commented: “The founders of the Future-Building Fund, in partnership with OCF, have created a unique formula: administration by OCF; due diligence by OCVA; an experienced Grants Panel; and effective and engaged project managers. As a donor, as well as Chairman of the fund’s Grants Panel, it remains the most effective way of channelling my money that I have come across.”

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