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What happens when the wealthy give back in a way that is both sustainable and strategic? We see meaningful change and hope – for individuals, for communities and for our collective future as a whole.


While the Sedel-Collings Foundation might not be a household name, it’s quiet yet powerful influence is making significant waves of real and positive change for many, both in Jersey and further afield in the UK.


Founded by late islanders, Rae Sedel and John Collings, this philanthropic organisation has partnered with Jersey Community Foundation (JCF) to support local charities and voluntary organisations, donating an incredible £300,000 alone over the past 10 months.


Rae Sedel and John Collings established the Sedel-Collings Foundation in 2006 with an initial endowment of £1 million, before moving to Jersey in 2008. With a mission to empower and sustain vital community services – from supporting men’s mental health through to supporting women who have been victims of domestic violence – the Sedel-Collings foundation epitomises how strategic and empathetic philanthropy can make a tangible and sustainable difference.


Rae, an American who was born in Virginia and grew up in California, relocated to the UK in 1987. She was a fearless and successful high-end recruitment specialist working for Russell Reynolds Associates with world renowned clients. Her career was marked by a relentless drive and clear vision, attributes that also characterised her philanthropic efforts.


John, an esteemed academic and Rae’s greatest supporter, shared her unwavering commitment to charitable giving. He dedicated his efforts to furthering their shared philanthropic vision.


Rae and John were determined to create a lasting charitable legacy and dedicate their retirement to running the foundation, but both very sadly passed away in their 70s in 2021. Following their deaths, the Sedel-Collings Foundation – which is registered with the UK Charity Commission – received a significant proportion of their entire wealth.


To ensure their vision lives on, Ross, a professional wealth adviser who worked with the couple since the late 1980s, now volunteers his time to manage the fund. Alongside three other voluntary trustees, he uses his expertise to oversee the careful management of the foundation, ensuring its continued giving now and in the future.


Ross and the three other trustees prioritise fund allocation with the couple’s wishes by focussing on partnerships with Community Foundations (CFs) in Jersey, Surrey, Devon and Cornwall. Centralising funding through CFs in this way allows the foundation to leverage local expertise and networks, ensuring that the most deserving charities receive support and make a lasting impact.


Following the wishes and experiences of Rae and John, the Sedel-Collings Foundation concentrates its giving on the following critical areas to ensure their funds have a meaningful and lasting impact:


  • Care leavers: Supporting children and young people transitioning out of care homes, helping them navigate the challenges of independent living.

  • Violence against women: Funding initiatives that prevent violence against women and provide support to survivors.

  • Supporting the supporters: Strengthening the capacity of charitable organisations by funding support for volunteers through safeguarding, support and supervision.

  • Youth mental health: Addressing mental health issues among children and young people, providing access to resources and support.

  • Men’s mental health: Focussing on mental health issues specific to men, providing tailored support and resources to improve their wellbeing.

  • Suicide prevention: Preventing suicide by nurturing community connections and providing mental health support.

  • Loneliness: Initiatives aimed at reducing loneliness across all age groups, promoting social inclusion and community engagement.

  • Bereavement: Offering support services for individuals grieving the loss of a loved one, helping them cope and heal.


The Sedel-Collings Foundation’s approach to giving places a strong emphasis on sustainable giving and visiting the charities it supports to understand their needs and build collaborative partnerships.


Ross explains more about sustainable giving, saying, “While one-off grants are clearly appreciated, their impact is limited to a few months or a year. Given the ongoing needs of charities, the foundation instead provides multi-year funding to beneficiaries. This style of grant-giving helps organisations avoid the uncertainty of annual fundraising and is essential for charities’ ongoing business sustainability and service delivery.”


Furthermore, their hands-on involvement helps the trustees ensure that funds are used effectively and that supported organisations are sustainable in their business operations. Ross adds, “By visiting charities, we gain a sense of how money is being used and the quality of the organisations the foundation supports. This direct engagement nurtures trust and accountability, ensuring that funds make a real difference.”


The foundation also focusses on working with smaller charities. This is because relatively modest grants can have significant and meaningful impact on small organisations. Their goal is to help small charities grow and thrive to the point where they no longer need the support of the Sedel-Collings Foundation.


Their multi-year funding partnership with JCF has proven to be highly beneficial, supporting various local projects and charities with the stability needed to plan and grow. This contrasts with the often sporadic and short-term nature of one-off donations, highlighting the importance of reliable, long-term support. This approach has been particularly effective in Surrey, where the foundation supports several charities with £50,000 per year each, nurturing long-term stability and impact.


Among the many projects supported by Sedel-Collings Foundation through JCF, several stand out for their significant impact on the local community. Freeda, formerly the Jersey Women’s Refuge, aligns Rae’s passion for women’s empowerment. The foundation’s multi-year grants support the charity’s general operating costs – often overlooked by donors – yet essential for the charity’s sustainability. Additionally, it provides multi-year grants to help women on their path to financial independence.


Another notable project, The Butterfly Café, helps survivors of abuse. The foundation supports the café by funding core costs and providing training to ensure the organisation can continue its crucial work. This support was only possible with JCF’s assistance, monitoring and due diligence.


Other supported charities include Jersey Hospice Care, Shelter Trust, Beresford Street Kitchen and Art in the Frame Foundation, each addressing critical community needs and supporting the foundation’s core focus areas.


Beyond Jersey, the Sedel-Collings Foundation has supported numerous projects in the UK. These initiatives span various causes, from parental support and youth mental health to rural isolation and suicide prevention. For instance, Parental Minds in Devon provides emotional support for caregivers and those they support; while Dress for Success London helps women to re-enter the workplace and achieve economic independence by providing professional clothing and styling, interview coaching and ongoing support once they re-join the workplace.


Looking ahead, the foundation plans to continue carefully managing and investing its money so that it can support charitable causes in Jersey and the UK for at least another 15 years. A key part of its strategy includes partnering with other donors and leveraging match funding opportunities.


Ross offers an excellent example of match funding he has witnessed in the UK. He says, Sedel-Collings Foundation support The Wave Project in Devon and Cornwall. Last year, we made a pledge of £10,000 which the charity matched through fundraising. This amount was then doubled by The Big Give to £40,000. Working with Cornwall Community Foundation, the Sedel-Collings Foundation has also match funded government grants for suicide prevention, support for care-experienced young people and violence against women and young girls.”


He further adds, “These examples highlight the importance and power of match funding in the charitable sector, as they amplify impact, encourage collaboration to achieve common goals, drive donations and reassure other potential donors of a cause’s worthiness and effective management.”


It is essential to provide support where it is most needed. And there is big need. Even in a wealthy island like Jersey, there are pockets of unseen need and poverty. The Government provides a great deal of support, but realistically, it cannot afford to support everyone and everything. This leads to gaps in public services. An example of such a gap is when children leave state care at the age of 18 without the support that many of us take for granted, like going on to further education, or finding a home or a job. High Net Worth Individuals and philanthropists like Rae and John can help to fill the gaps where government support falls short.


When asked for his advice to others wishing to give back, Ross shares a profound and thought-provoking insight. He says, “When donating, it’s important not to view it as giving your money away, but as giving back. This way of thinking makes it easier to let others join in so that they can contribute their time, skills and expertise in a way that maximises the effectiveness of your giving. Community Foundations are a perfect example of this because it’s like collaborating with a wealth manager – they know how to maximise the impact of your contributions.”


Meaningful engagement in giving is profoundly humbling. Recognising the impact we can have on those less fortunate is a powerful realisation. It’s true that achieving financial success is often a mix of luck and hard work, but we can also influence other people’s luck through our own thoughtful actions and generosity.

Sustainable charitable giving: How a Jersey couple’s legacy is changing lives

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