We wish all of our supporters and partners a very Happy New Year! Before we launch into 2019, we thought we’d do a quick round-up of the top ten highlights of last year…
1. We reached the £1 million grant-making milestone – and look set to continue this!
In the financial year ending in March 2018, we awarded over a million pounds in charitable funding for the first time in our history, combining with other Thames Valley community foundations to give a £5 million boost to the region’s charities. We look set to match this in the current financial year too, with our Community Integration grants bringing different parts of society together, and other grants rounds improving family life by reducing crime and tackling educational inequality and loneliness. We also ran national programmes such as #iwill and the Tampon Tax, and made our first grants from the Westgate Fund.
2. We created a new Age Friendly Banbury partnership
In May we joined a new partnership working to make Banbury a better place to grow old. We helped launch a survey asking the public for their views, held a consultation event in the town hall, and published the results, which revealed the need to focus on practical solutions such as infrastructure and communication. The engagement continues with pop-up events and a significant funding application to the Big Lottery for 2019.
3. We used robust data to inform our work, with the help of Local Insight
In 2018 we made use of more professional data and intelligence services, subscribing to the Local Insight data mapping tool to pinpoint areas of real need in Oxfordshire. This research is then used to inform the sorts of work we invite for funding, making our grant-making more informed and effective. We also committed to publishing our own grant-making data to help others, as celebrated on Open Data Day in March.
4. We helped the City Conversation on Rough Sleeping come to fruition
OCF was invited to facilitate a new collaboration to address rough sleeping in Oxford, which we joined in May. Currently known as the City Conversation, the partnership brings together charities, businesses, councils, the police and the universities to come up with a city-wide response to homelessness, and is being facilitated by OCF’s project manager Yvonne Pinner. The partnership has set priorities and in early 2019 will announce significant further progress.
5. We strengthened our Board and patrons
At the start of the year Olivia Tomlin joined our trustee board as a visiting student trustee from the Young Trustee Programme. We added significant financial, strategic and civil society expertise by welcoming David Rossington, Kate Fyson and Paul Donovan; and our longest-standing trustee and decades-loyal donor Jane Wates stepped down, agreeing to become OCF’s second patron.
6. We boosted employee volunteering at our Reciprocate Corporate Muscle Symposium
Over 100 people took part in our symposium at the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, Worcester College in April to understand more about how businesses can support the community by sharing time, talent and skills – and boost staff leadership potential at the same time. The event was staged by OCF to inspire members of the charity’s Reciprocate responsible business group to think about employee volunteering with an open mind.
7. We committed to a strategic programme tackling educational inequality
Suzy Donald was appointed in October to take forward OCF’s third strategic programme: convening charities, public bodies, businesses and individuals interested in making a difference to educational inequality in the county. Since then Suzy has been meeting key stakeholders and doing extensive research to inform an OCF education strategy in 2019.
8. We invested £372k in the infrastructure of eight leading charities via our Step Change Fund
Step Change infrastructure funding was awarded One-Eighty, Transition by Design, the Orchestra of St John’s, Oxfordshire Youth, Cogges Heritage Trust, Ark T, OxPIP and RAW Workshop in 2018, boosting their strategic operations to make them more effective and sustainable. The success of the Step Change Fund was celebrated at a donor event in April. However, one significant lowlight for OCF was the sad loss of the Step Change Fund’s co-founder Colin Alexander.
9. We engaged new donors and supporters through thought-provoking events
OCF brought together different grant funders at our annual Funders’ Forum in June to discuss priority areas for funding, and find out how new technological advances could help make the funding process more efficient. We reached new supporters in Henley with our Call My Wine Bluff event, and thanked our regular friends and partners with our established #GivingTuesday celebration in November.
10. We raised £70k (and counting!) with our Christmas Match Fund #PlacetoCallHome
Over Christmas OCF made match funding available to support homelessness charities in Oxford, working closely with Oxford Poverty Action Trust (OxPAT) to encourage the public to give to established charities that are well placed to support homeless people. Every pound given to OxPAT is matched with another pound from OCF – and £35,000 has been donated so far! We will continue to match until Sunday 6th January 2019, so there is still time to make a donation.