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Community Foundations

The Community Foundation Network (CFN) is a association of charitable trusts that support local community causes. Their role is to manage donor funds and build endowment as well as make grants to charities and community groups, linking local donors with local needs. Created by and for local people they help donors express their long-term interest in an area and its needs. Community foundations have been active in the UK since the 1980s and a rapidly growing network of approximately 60 foundations is now established across the country. About 90% of the UK population has access to a community foundation.

What Do Community Foundations Fund?

All members of CFN subscribe to some common aims and all share a vision about community-based philanthropy.

They support local causes and community activity through grants to local groups and organisations. Within these broad objectives there is some variation between foundations. Some foundations have criteria with a focus on social need and opportunity while others have more specific themes, generally reviewed every three years. Some community foundations have a large number of funds from which to make grants. They will either advise you on the most appropriate fund to apply to, or have a common application form for all their funds. The grants adviser at your local community foundation is there to help you through the application process, so don't hesitate to contact them.

What Are Community Foundations Unlikely To Fund?

Each community foundation covers a specific area of the UK and will not normally be able to support work outside its area. They will want to be sure that any application from a national charity for local work is firmly rooted in their area. They are unlikely to donate to major capital appeals, or to consider standard appeal letters. Most would also rule out projects and services with an exclusively religious purpose. They could not support any work with a party political content. Each community foundation makes its grant-making policy publicly available, so don"t hesitate to contact the one in your area.

Where Do I Find My Nearest Community Foundation?

The finding community foundations function on their website allows you to search regionally and provides contact details, if available. Most community foundation websites have a section for grant applicants, explaining local criteria and procedures. If they do not have a website, contact them by phone, email or letter for details of their grants programmes. There are about 60 community foundations, covering all of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and most parts of England. Most English community foundations cover a whole county, though some operate in smaller areas.