Dedicated to delivering positive change
Lincolnshire Community Foundation’s mission is to create a county where people feel healthy, happy, resilient and empowered. Barbara Young finds out more.
Founded in 2002, the Lincolnshire Community Foundation (LCF) was set up as a grant making trust to deliver clear environmental and societal change with the aim of providing positive outcomes for both people and places.
Since its launch, it is estimated that LCF has distributed over £17m supporting more than 1,000 local charities, community groups and organisations. This trust’s dedicated team is experienced in raising funds to respond to local emergencies, while also delivering effective and reactive crisis support to those communities most in need.
“In seeking to improve the lives and wellbeing of ordinary people throughout Greater Lincolnshire, the Foundation’s mission is to achieve this through grant making, social investment, advice and practical support and co-working: we listen, convene, collaborate and fund,” explains LCF’s chief executive Sue Fortune. “Lincolnshire, which is the second largest county in England by area, has a population of more than 755,000 and includes a mix of urban, rural and coastal areas.
“We want to promote cohesive communities leading to a better quality of life and equality of opportunities for all, so that people are encouraged to contribute to society and fulfil their potential.
“Our work is precise, efficient and impactful. We pride ourselves on engaging with communities at a grassroots level and our work is grounded in the value of #ChangenotCharity.”
Both the staff and trustees at LCF, which is one of 47 CFs across the UK, are keen to be recognised not just as a funder, but a vital organisation offering many forms of support to help improve the quality of life for local residents.
“While there are similarities to other rural counties (such as Cumbria and Norfolk), residents of Lincolnshire face many unique challenges,” explains Sue.
“We have a mixed demographic with a higher than average older population, particularly along the coastal strip and access to transport, advice and support, healthcare and cultural activities have been identified as issues. Success is measured in facilitating new connections, or sharing important information across our wide network, with a focus to support smaller, volunteer led organisations.
“We are driven to create positive change and there are many ways this can happen. For example, during our involvement in the Wainfleet Flood Appeal, many people said they didn’t want charity and this struck a chord with us.”
Supporting local communities
From 2020 to 2021, LCF distributed funds of approximately £2.5m, although the Foundation’s average turnover is closer to £1m, with beneficiaries being the 120,000-plus residents of Greater Lincolnshire.
Apart from delivering grant funding, the team at Lincolnshire Community Foundation offers advice and support to local communities delivering practical local impact, so it’s no surprise that they have developed a matrix which is used widely by other bodies throughout the country.
“Because of our vast knowledge and database, we can share information about exemplar projects operating across the county, putting organisations in touch with each other and often raise awareness with national funders about what is happening locally.
“While the majority of our funding is distributed to community groups, should the occasion arise we will consider delivering funding to individuals as we’ve done in the past; for instance, the Wainfleet Flood Appeal operated by LCF raised in the region of £100K for residents affected by devastating floods in 2019.”
The Lincolnshire Community Foundation remains dedicated to being involved in many initiatives throughout the county, which are aimed at improving the social economy for all.
“Gainsborough Local Access Programme, which is a 10-year initiative, has been established to encourage the voluntary and community sector to think more creatively about the work they do and how they can create enterprise development opportunities. We are members of the Steering Group and purse holder for the programme. We’ve also been tasked with sourcing match funding from corporate partners as well as individual donors.
“Recently, the Foundation was invited to hold funding and join the Core Group for Lincoln LocalMotion, a collaboration of six national funders who would like to play their part in facilitating systemic change that will tackle the root causes of social, environmental and economic injustice in six locations across the UK. The vision, developed locally in collaboration with a cross-sector group of people, aims to connect people to inspire a flourishing future.”
The impact from the efforts of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation continues to prove increasingly important from both an environmental and societal viewpoint.
Sue explains that the majority of requests the Foundation receives are from charities, community groups and organisations seeking funding for annual running costs and overheads.
“Each fund has its own set of criteria and applicants will need to ensure they are eligible in the first instance. We encourage potential applicants to speak to a member of the team before applying.
“Our ambition is to grow our endowment so that trustees might be able to commission charitable organisations to deliver interventions in those areas of greatest need – be that a geographical area, or to benefit a specific community of interest.”
She points out that it’s important that the trust continues to nurture and retain local talent and says that the need for any potential change in the community “should be viewed through many lenses”.
“For example, poverty will have an impact on the environment in which people live, their aspirations and ambitions.
“In our experience, it’s very unlikely that an individual or family are facing a single issue such as fuel poverty. These may also relate to housing, mental health issues, debt problems. When making funding decisions, each panel or donor will have these matters in mind.
“From a more strategic position, it’s critical these matters are considered. If the Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership is to succeed in building a county with a thriving business/industry base, then people who live here need to be supported at grassroots level to ensure the county flourishes.”
Responding to Covid-19
During the pandemic, the Lincolnshire Community Foundation quickly adapted to ensure funds reached those who needed help most, including vital frontline charities.
Between March and May 2020, the Foundation distributed National Emergency Trust (NET) funding to frontline community charities, groups and organisations
“We released £50,000 within the first week of lockdown and more than £500,000 within the first eight weeks,” says Sue. “Initially, the priority was to ensure those who were isolated and/or vulnerable remained safe, well (physically and emotionally) and connected. As time progressed, we directed funds to emerging needs based on data, feedback and local intelligence.
“The community and voluntary sector have shown incredible strength and adaptability through Covid, with many local groups offering crucial support that undoubtedly kept people alive.
“We saw a rapid expansion of Good Neighbour schemes across the county, where neighbours stepped up to help members of their own community. This drive and commitment continues to be seen and many organisations persist in adapting and flexing to local needs.
“During this period, we awarded grants to more than 200 community groups, positively impacting more than 12,000 people across the county.
“Covid also impacted the ability for charities to raise funds for much needed running costs and many have seen a huge reduction in reserves; sadly, some may not recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
Following the ravaging floods in Wainfleet, the Foundation quickly engaged in local and national fundraising, enabling and ensuring that emergency grants were awarded to those households impacted in the town within weeks, with ongoing support for the community throughout its recovery.
“We believe it’s important to share our stories of local impact, as well as what our aims and objectives are so we can engage not only with those local groups providing vital services, but also with those businesses and individuals who may want to work alongside us to ensure we have a positive impact on the lives of people living in Lincolnshire.
“As seen from the impact of Covid, local needs change and the Lincolnshire Community Foundation continues to adapt and respond as quickly as possible to these.
“Ultimately, we would like to grow our endowment so we can focus our resources to have the biggest impact and address issues such as child poverty, health inequalities, and domestic abuse.”
To date, the Foundation has distributed more than £17m to charities, community groups and organisations, from Grimsby to Sutton Bridge and Mablethorpe to Grantham.
“These grants have helped groups tackle issues such as loneliness and isolation, food poverty, homelessness, access to services, addiction, unemployment and many other unique and individual needs that exist across Lincolnshire.”
Looking ahead, Sue says there are plans to build on existing networks and collaborate more effectively, allowing funding to have the greatest impact while also tackling all forms of social injustice.
“We want to recruit some new trustees from across the county, with a particular focus on those with lived experience and from the east and south of the county to be representative of the communities we serve.
“It’s vital that we continue to communicate our vision, mission and impact widely to attract new collaborations and engagement; we pride ourselves on being approachable and accessible, with the emphasis on small grants delivering a big difference.”
To find out more about Lincolnshire Community Foundation’s support and future ambitions, tel: 01529 305 825, email email@example.com or visit www.lincolnshirecf.co.uk