Philanthropy is alive and well and is making a major difference in local communities, thanks to the people who put the money they can afford to give to good work, through the network of Community Foundations right across the UK.
Essex Community Foundation (ECF) was established 20 years ago and is a shining example of how such an organisation can provide a sound base to make giving to causes locally a real pleasure.
ECF is an independent charitable trust dedicated to managing funds on behalf of families, individuals and companies who want to make a positive contribution in the places where they live and work and want the money they give to be visibly used in an effective and efficient way.
Grants are distributed by ECF to local charities and voluntary organisations in Essex, matching the interests and aims of the fund-holders who can see at first-hand how their money is making life better for people in need in their community.
A grand total of £32 million of endowed funds are now under ECF’s management, and in the last 20 years more than £28 million had been given in grants to a huge range of charities and organisations.
Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF said: “As one of the UK’s leading accredited community foundations we have unique expertise and local knowledge to help individuals, families, companies and public agencies to channel their giving to where it is needed most and support the local causes and charities they care about.”
“People who want to be philanthropic can have the joy of giving, during their lifetime or though leaving a legacy, without the burden of setting up a charity themselves, or having the daunting task of trying to evaluate where their money will be used effectively and responsibly, in a tax-efficient way. Setting up a fund through ECF is very straightforward and our administration fees are kept at a very reasonable level. Anyone who does not want to set up a fund themselves can make donations through our general Acorn Fund which distributes grants as needs arise in Essex.”
She adds: “The feedback we receive makes it clear that giving locally makes people feel more involved. We want to help more donors make their giving more effective and for charity and community groups to have the support that ECF can give.”
Someone who has experienced the very positive benefits of establishing a family fund with ECF is Jason Bartella, managing director of the Heritage Leisure Group, a highly successful company which runs prestigious hotels including Pontlands Park in Chelmsford.
Jason, who lives in Essex with his wife Lisa and their children, is a 21st century philanthropist with a passion for supporting causes close to his heart, particularly those giving help to children and disadvantaged families.
The family’s fund has awarded more than £230,000 in grants to voluntary and community groups throughout Essex and their endowed fund with ECF has grown over time, with a current overall value of £330,000.
Jason openly acknowledges that he and his family are in a privileged position, but is emphatic that being able to give locally through the fund that his family established with ECF in 2003, is one of the most rewarding areas of his life.
He said: “From the start, we said that we wanted the money from our fund to be spent in the Chelmsford area, where our main businesses are based. But working with ECF has given us a wider view and we are now happy to go further afield if ECF presents us with a project which feels right.
“It is good to know that the money we give goes directly to the charities we want to support, with only a minimal amount taken for administration. The money in our fund can, through ECF’s pooled investment approach, achieve a much better return and the good it does will go on in perpetuity. Through ECF we can have a close connection to the organisations we support and can see the positive outcome of the money we give.”
Facts about Essex Community Foundation:
- ECF is an independent charitable trust dedicated to improving the quality of life of people in Essex by investing and distributing funds on behalf of a wide range of donors.
- Since it was founded in1996 ECF has distributed grants totalling over £28 million to local voluntary and community organisations in Essex to support their vital work.
- ECF currently manages 133 named charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, companies and public agencies to help them channel their giving in the most effective and efficient way, enabling them to support causes close to their heart and close to home.
- Voluntary organisations can apply for grant funding through ECF at any time. Each year ECF awards around £2 million in grants.
- People who want to make a lasting difference in the community can work with ECF in a variety of ways, ranging from setting up a named fund, making a one-off or regular contribution to ECF’s Acorn Fund, or by leaving a legacy.
- To contact ECF for more information, please call or e-mail Jo Murphy on 01245 355947, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Essex Community Foundation, 121 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0QT.
ECF is a registered charity, number 1052061. For more details about ECF and its work visit www.essexcommunityfoundation.org.uk
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