Tracey Walsh, Chief Executive, East End Community Foundation
This year East End Community Foundation (EECF) is celebrating 25 years of philanthropy and community investment in London’s most deprived boroughs. Tracey Walsh, Chief Executive of EECF, reflects on the strategies employed by community foundations that can help donations have a greater impact at grassroots level.
If you work in the City or Canary Wharf, it is likely that your office borders some of the most deprived communities in London, indeed, in the whole of the UK. When we look out of the windows of these new developments it is hard to believe that such inequalities exist, but statistics show 42% of children in Tower Hamlets are living in poverty, with Hackney and Newham close behind.
Deprivation is not an issue with a ‘one size fits all’ solution and it cannot be resolved overnight. It requires time, local intelligence and long-term financial commitment. At EECF we believe passionately that philanthropy starts at home, in the communities where we live and work. As local experts in philanthropy and community investment, with 25 years’ experience, we want to help our donors make a difference.
At the core of community foundations is our belief that we achieve so much more together. When like-minded people and businesses work together, sharing their resources, expertise and passion, they can develop a united strategy and make a much greater financial commitment in order to make a bigger difference.
Recognising the effectiveness of collective giving, EECF launched a number of initiatives last year to enable individuals and businesses to pool donations of all sizes to tackle specific local community issues. We are particularly pleased by the success of our place-based giving funds – Hackney Giving and Newham Giving – that have distributed almost £300,000 in funding to date thanks to contributions from local businesses and individuals raised through crowd-funding events. We also launched last year the 100 Club, which really embraces the idea of collective giving. Each member pledges £1,000 per year, meaning that collectively 100 people will give £100,000 to deserving community initiatives.
Docklands Settlement is a local charity that provides, amongst other things, low cost play care and its Chief Executive Lorraine Cavanagh OBE summarised why collective giving is so effective at the launch of the 100 Club last year: “If you were to donate a £1,000 to a kids club, that would buy them more equipment… and if you’re lucky one trip to the seaside. But if the kids club is given £10,000 that can buy an extra worker that would enable another 10 children to attend [and] another 10 parents on low incomes to get back into work or training.” It illustrates well that charities can be more strategic in their delivery when in receipt of larger donations, but not everyone has the ability to give at that level. By pooling donations we can create a win-win situation.
We believe long-term investment is also important. We create and build endowed funds, carefully investing donations we receive in a COIF Charities Investment Fund. The dividend generated and up to 10% of capital gains can then be used for grant making year on year.
This means we can fund a wide range of programmes, including those that fill gaps in public service provision such as health activities that go beyond what is expected of the NHS or educational activities outside of the school day. This allows us to help support people living in deprivation at every stage of their life to create a long lasting legacy.
Our 100 Club members’ £1000 donations are split; £500 is used immediately to support local needs and £500 is invested in an endowment. This means that our members support projects today and invest in the East End’s future.
Looking back over the past 25 years it’s incredible to see how the East End has been transformed. East Enders are resilient and resourceful people but there is still a lot to do to ensure everyone has the opportunity to benefit from the changes happening around them. Our message, as a foundation dedicated to strengthening local communities, is this: let’s work together to have a co-ordinated and strategic approach to local giving, using our knowledge and resources to invest in the long term, for a positive future.
Read our story on EECF's new £1m Endowment Match Programme.
Visit www.eastendcf.org to find out more about the 100 Club and their range of philanthropic services.