As we come to the end of 2022, OCF reflects on a year of changes, challenges and community. Thank you for all of your support throughout 2022. We are taking a break for Christmas, closing our office (and laptops!) from the end of Thursday 22nd December. We will be back in January 2023 with further details on our plans for the year ahead.
Having handed over the coordination of the strategic programmes Getting Oxfordshire Online, Growing Minds and Age Friendly Banbury to our delivery partners during 2022 (with Oxfordshire Homeless Movement becoming its own charity in early 2023), OCF has sharpened its focus on the fundamental work of a community foundation: investing in our dynamic local charitable sector through effective philanthropy.
Taking the lead on this mission is our new CEO, Zoe Sprigings, who joined us at the end of October. Zoe spoke about OCF’s future plans at our recent Giving Tuesday event, attended by donors and fundholders of OCF.
In early 2022, we were still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a large portion of our grant-making was ongoing COVID response and recovery funding. However, the cost of living has proven to be the biggest focus area of the past year, coming hot on the heels of the pandemic and presenting a huge challenge to the local charitable sector.
Our cost-of-living webinar back in May explored the data behind the headlines, and looked at how local charitable organisations were already responding. Over the summer we surveyed our network of charity contacts and held a consultative workshop about the biggest issues for Oxfordshire communities in the cost-of-living crisis, and what type of activities need funding support. We used the responses to design our cost-of-living grants round, which opened in September, with payments going out to over 40 community groups and charities before the end of the year.
The cost of living remains a key priority for OCF, and we would urge anyone looking to make a charitable gift over Christmas to donate to our Cost of Living Fund.
Community investment is at the heart of what we do. For the financial year 2021/22, OCF had a record year of grant-giving, during which we made £2,057,438 in grants, reaching over 56,000 beneficiaries. Alongside COVID funding, other significant grant-making related to our flagship fund for larger infrastructure projects, Step Change; the launch of the Didcot Powerhouse Fund and its first year of grant-giving; and several funding rounds with Public Health Oxfordshire via Oxfordshire County Council.
Our annual accounts will be published in the new year with full details of our activities in 2021-22, followed by a full impact report. In the meantime, our impact video sums up our achievements in the past financial year.
Community has also been the focus of our grants from the start of the 2022-23 financial year – starting with the Arts Council Let’s Create Jubilee Fund to celebrate community arts projects across the county; Community Integration grants in May to support activity giving local people a sense of belonging and lasting connections; over £300,000 of grants supported local organisations delivering vital services to our communities and their residents; and the Sir George Earle Fund aimed to combat loneliness and isolation in older people. In 2022 we also ran a cancer prevention grants round with the Integrated Care Board for Oxfordshire.
During the final quarter of 2022 we have built on our relationship with the County Council, partnering on our cost-of-living, Community Capacity and Community Building Energy Support Scheme grants, which have revealed an overwhelming need from the local charity sector – so our grant-making total for the 2022-23 financial year promises to keep pace with the past years.
We also continued to build an online community through our webinars, which started during the pandemic, and feature live interviews with charitable organisations we have funded, donors and subject-matter experts. At our health inequalities webinar in September, David Munday, Deputy Director of Public Health Oxfordshire, explained the impact of COVID-19 on existing inequalities, and we heard from two local charities about the grant funding they received to help boost cardiovascular and mental health. Watch this space for more online events in 2023!
What can we expect in 2023?
Next year will bring ongoing support for the cost-of-living crisis; a new edition of Oxfordshire Uncovered; and a focus on the environment, ensuring that our grant-making meets the long-term needs of communities that will increasingly be affected by climate change. We will also be building capacity in our staff team, with various roles open for recruitment in the grants and philanthropy functions. You can watch Zoe talk about these plans in the short recording below.
We hope you have a peaceful and restful festive season and we look forward to seeing you in 2023!