Building the Foundations for Community Giving

The notion of ‘community’ and what that might mean has been more a part of public consciousness in recent years than it has over the past few decades. Most keenly felt, was the sense of community brought about by the two tragic events in December. Tragedy, as it often does, brought people together in support of and sympathy for those struck by both the Pier Road disaster and the terrible accident off the coast of St Ouen. On 23 December, the front page of the JEP, praised Islanders for their help after the Pier Road explosion and Chief Minister, Kristina Moore, was cited as being ‘overwhelmed by the community’s kindness.’ Even before this, our community spirit had been building. Over the pandemic, our borders were closed isolating us from the mainland and prompting us to consider what it means to be an Island community. Pockets of neighbourly dedication flourished, as those less vulnerable volunteered to shop, pick up medication and call in on friends, family and strangers advised to isolate. Our community also rallied to help one another, with many giving money or time to support our Island’s recovery from Covid-19, with retired doctors and nurses returning to work to help administer vaccines.

Meanwhile, demands on charities designed to support the community increased and continue to do so amidst the cost-of-living crisis. Charities that work within areas of immediate poverty relief, such as food banks, Community Savings and Salvation Army reported a doubling of demand over the last two to three years.

It is amongst this groundswell of community need that the Jersey Community Foundation (JCF) is finding its feet, matching donors with local causes as well as administering emergency funding to those that need it most.

“There are so many charities in Jersey that it can be difficult for donors to know where their funding is going to have the greatest impact” – says Anna Terry, CEO of Jersey Community Foundation (JCF). “It can be time consuming for donors to do their homework before choosing where to give. Our in-depth knowledge across the sector allows us to have good oversight of what’s going on, and through our research and engagement with specialist advisers, we can support donors to find and fund impactful organisations and projects, run by the most effective and accountable organisations.

Community Foundations exist all over the UK and globally, though Jersey’s Community Foundation is relatively new. Established in 2020, during the pandemic, it brought together a volunteer board of philanthropic business leaders and was originally set up to distribute the Dormant Bank Account Funds to organisations and individuals that needed immediate support. It has since grown into a charity that has donated nearly £4 million (and counting) to community projects on the Island. These funds come from a medley of private donors, businesses, 50% of the Lottery Funding, and bequests, such as the AA Rayner and Greville Bathe Funds that were set up to help some of the most vulnerable islanders who struggle with health and money problems.

JCF has spent the last two years developing its grant giving process and building relationships with charities and government. Their grant making process is robust: applicants are required to fulfil certain criteria and to outline the impact of their project on the community. Applications are then assessed by a panel of independent, sector-specific grant advisers, who submit recommendations to the JCF board, who make the final decision on funding. If successful, grantees also provide JCF with monitoring and evaluation data. This ensures effective project management but also provides valuable insight into the impact of funds.

Having recently completed a Masters’ in Philanthropic Studies, which focused on advising donors, driving best practice in the operation of charitable foundations, as well as the analysis of philanthropic practices around the world, Anna Terry’s expertise in Philanthropy puts her in a good position help the Foundation grow.

“We knew that the first few years had to be about effective grant giving, building relationships with the charitable sector and building our knowledge of the local needs.” Anna said, “We were entrusted with £2 million from the Dormant Bank Accounts, then with 50% of the Lottery Funding and knew the priority at that stage was to ensure the funds were carefully, dutifully, and respectfully managed. We feel in a strong position now, having distributed nearly £4million to community projects across the Island and are looking to support an increasing number of both individual and corporate donors, so we can help even more of our community.”

As part of its membership of the UK Community Foundation (UK CF) Network, JCF will be assessed through a ‘Quality Accreditation Programme’, which evaluates the ongoing practices and development trajectory of community foundations within core standards of governance, finance, philanthropy, grant making, community participation and organisational development. The programme is unique to UKCF, providing the only accreditation process internationally that is tailored to and designed for community foundations.

JCF’s funding is diverse and far-reaching, both in its subject matter and in the range of finance available. For example, they were responsible for funding many of the community celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. In the Autumn of the same year, they distributed £45,000 to food banks and lifeline charities in response to growing demands during the cost-of-living crisis and post-covid recovery. Their remit also covers funding for smaller community initiatives such as ‘Laugh, Move and Groove’, a club that runs inclusive exercise classes for elderly and disabled Islanders and Harbour Gallery’s ‘Never too Old Club’, where over 60s can meet for tea and cake and try their hand at various arts and crafts. Their list of beneficiaries, which stretches into the hundreds, includes St Lawrence School, Caring Cooks, Family Nursing & Home Care, Shelter Trust, Jersey Trees For Life, Healing Waves, Jersey Sport, Women’s Refuge, JAAR and JICAS, to name a few.

“We have been building relationships and trust with the charitable sector from the beginning.” Anna continues, “It was important to work with ‘front line’ volunteers, community leaders and charity employees to better understand the sector we serve. We rely heavily on our volunteer specialist advisers who give up their time and expertise to review grant applications and provide advice on key areas of need.

We are continually growing our network, aware of the island’s 450-or-so registered charities as well as countless other not-for-profit organisations, community groups etc. that stand to gain from future funding.”

One such community project is run by Nicky Kennedy, whose choir for people with Parkinson’s (‘Sparky Parkies’) was recently awarded over £5000. The funding gave her the opportunity to combine the many benefits of social interaction and group learning with advances in treatment and management techniques for people with Parkinson’s. Nicky explains:

“Our choral sessions bring social bonding, enjoyment, and a sense of wellbeing to those with Parkinson’s. The funding from Jersey Community Foundation allowed us to combine these positive outcomes with Speech Therapy, thanks to the addition of a Speech Therapist. This is a ground-breaking initiative that exists in very few territories and could become a significant pilot.”

Central to ethos of JCF is their trust in the charitable sector to serve the community effectively and understanding that those with ‘coal face’ experience can identify where the need lies. It is from this ethos that funding for projects like the restoration of St Andrew’s Church grew. The Church has a long history of serving the local community, particularly at First Tower and is a beautiful, historically significant space. However, it had received no significant investment since 1959 and so as well as being a cold, dark place, the church and its hall were also very restrictive to people with physical challenges, mental illnesses, learning difficulties and younger families. Their application to the JCF was the culmination of a nearly 10-year endeavour to better meet the needs and range of people who use their facilities, identifying 19 different user groups benefiting from the hall and centre weekly. Despite this, due to its structural limitations, the church was being woefully underused. In November, the Church was awarded £50,000 for improvements that included providing wheelchair access, installing flexible seating to better accommodate the hall’s diverse needs, economically and environmentally improved lighting and heating systems and a creche for young children and babies. The work is set to during 2023 and hopes to bring together more of the community in a wide range of activities from sewing clubs to toddler soft play.

As well as working with local charities and not for profits to understand need, JCF have also commissioned a Local Needs Assessment report in order to improve their understanding of Jersey’s most pressing needs. The results of this report will be published in the next few months.

“It’s more important than ever that the funds we distribute target the areas of greatest need in the island and deliver maximum impact,” Anna says. “Our Local Needs Assessment gives us another cornerstone for building the foundations for effective community giving. The data allows us to identify areas of need based on fact as well as extensive stakeholder engagement. It has provided clear areas of vulnerability that we will seek to address with our funding in 2023 and beyond.”

“We are seeing an increasing number of individuals approach us to set up both individual and corporate donor advised funds (DAFS) and we feel in a good position to really build on the positive trends that have taken hold in the philanthropy and grant-making sector over the last few years. We know that we live in a very generous community and that many wish to give back to the community in which they live and work but may be uncertain how best to do this. We have developed a giving process that is smooth, reliable, quantifiable and flexes with the passions and preferences of the donor(s). It is our belief that Jersey can become a community that effectively distributes its considerable wealth and kindness to causes that matter most to both donor and society.”

Donor Advised Funds include individual and family funds and corporate funds. JCF works in partnership with donors to establish their giving aims and areas of interest and then puts forward applications for their consideration on a regular basis. Donors can be involved as much or as little in the process as they wish and can choose to either give anonymously or name their fund as they wish.

Big plans, then, for JCF who stand to bring about positive change to our community and whose foundations look set to be in a strong position for future growth.

The next deadline for applications is 19th February and full details of the criteria can be found on their website: https://www.jerseycommunityfoundation.org/applying-for-funding/funding-opportunities/

JCF encourages charities and not-for-profit groups to explore their website for funding opportunities or email the grants team with any questions: grants@jerseycommunityfoundation.org

For anyone looking to learn more about donating to the Jersey Community Foundation, contact Anna Terry – anna@jerseycommunityfoundation.org.

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