The work of the Dorset Community Foundation and their recent success story
PUBLISHED: 14:55 26 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:55 26 February 2014
With their local knowledge and expertise, members of the Dorset Community Foundation are connecting donors with causes they care about - and providing help for children and adults affected by disability, poverty and social exclusion
Over the past 14 years, one of the county’s smallest but most effective charities has touched the lives of thousands of Dorset people, and many have benefited more than once from the efforts of this little known organisation.
Through grants to Dorset-based charities and community groups, Dorset Community Foundation (DCF) supports innumerable causes including education and training, health and well being, and combating social isolation amongst the elderly. These small charities, often completely volunteer-led, don’t have the capacity or the resources to compete against the larger regional and national charities for grants and donations. This is where DCF comes in. Since it was established in 2000 Dorset Community Foundation have delivered over £10 million in grants to more than 1,800 small charities and community groups across Dorset.Last year alone it gave out grants of more than £420,000 which benefited over 70,000 children and adults across Dorset.
Dorset Community Foundation typically manages funds on behalf of individuals, companies, local authorities and national schemes, sometimes undertaking work discreetly on behalf of local people who want to donate money to local causes after they’ve visited particular projects on ‘Secret Millionaire’ escorted visits. One reason why people use the Foundation is that the majority of individuals want to see real impact and tangible outcomes from their donations. By using the Foundation’s knowledge and expertise of issues affecting the county, donors know their support will reach the right people. Another plus factor is that funds set up through the Foundation are cost efficient and tax effective and, in many cases, attract match funding from national and local initiatives such as the 50% boost currently available through Community First.
In addition the Foundation provides day-to-day grants administration and financial management of charitable trust funds held on behalf of local families, private individuals, local businesses, statutory agencies and organisations such as Comic Relief. It also manages revenue funds such as the Meggitt Fund and the Dorset County Community Fund which it manages on behalf of Dorset County Council, itself having distributed over £780,000 of grants over the last two years.
Some recent projects DCF supported included a grant of £3000 to the Peasant Evolution Producers Co-operative. This helped set up a website to complement their mobile shop which delivers local produce to Dorset villages without their own shop. They also gave £5121 to Christchurch Age Concern for a volunteer led ‘befriender’ scheme for the elderly, £3000 to Bridport Deaf Club for arts and craft equipment, and £6966 to Disability Action Group North Dorset to start up a new mobility scooter service.
Other grants helped widely disparate groups such as MOSAIC - a Dorset charity supporting bereaved children, young people and their families. They received financial help to increase the hours of an office administrator and help with their on-line fundraising; and also the Sherborne-based charity Future Roots, which supports young people keen to build a countryside career.
Applicants for funding are assessed on how many people the project will help, evidence of clear need, and further evidence that the group’s financial situation needs additional funding. As a general rule, the Foundation supports groups with less than 12 months turnover in free reserves.
Alongside managing and administering charitable trust funds, the Foundation also actively encourages local residents and companies to give locally through community funds for Bournemouth, Poole and Shire Dorset. These funds accept individual donations, legacies, trust transfers and corporate support through the Corporate Community Giving Scheme and specifically help the 3000 or so very small charities and community groups who provide vital support within our local communities.
Last year, the Foundation celebrated the first ‘Do It for Dorset Day’ on 21 June to increase awareness and help raise funds for smaller local charities. The Foundation has also recently launched a ‘Friends Scheme’ to grow its network of supporters. Through their annual ‘Do it for Dorset Day’ the Foundation wants to engage with any individuals, companies or charities who would like to celebrate this day with them. You can keep up to date with information around the day through Facebook and Twitter or by visiting their website. 01202 292255
“Every penny counts for us, as it does for the many local charities and community groups we support,” said Ashley Rowlands, Chair of the Dorset Community Foundation. “I find it very gratifying to see the amount of good work that we, like other small organisations, can deliver, especially considering that many of us don’t employ fundraisers, are run on a shoestring and are generally dependent on volunteers. Despite this, we, like many of the grassroots organisations we support, are dedicated to delivering our work to award-winning standards.”
Dorset Community Foundation fund a range of services and support for children and adults in Dorset affected by disability, poverty and social exclusion. They also award grants to community led projects that needed funding - such as play equipment and book schemes, lunch clubs and day trips, credit unions and food banks, sports facilities and equipment, counselling and self-help initiatives, volunteering, carers and support groups, village halls and a whole variety of festivals, cultural awareness and community events. Anyone interested in supporting the Dorset Community Foundation’s work can join and spread the word about local causes.
For more details on the scheme or setting up or supporting a fund visit dorsetcommunityfoundation.org or call 01202 292255.