UK Community Foundations’ challenge to business

UK Community Foundations’ Enrich List – a play of words on the Sunday Times Rich List – has calculated that £49 billion (more than USD $84 billion) annually could be given to support communities across the UK, if all businesses donated the average corporate donation of £10,000 (USD $17,150). This is based on the fact that there are currently 4,895,655 businesses in the UK, although many of them are either small or medium sized in nature. Nevertheless, there is considerable room to grow corporate philanthropy that can be effectively managed by local community foundations. At present some 846 corporate donors have been identified across the network of 46 community foundations in the UK. These account for 17% of new funds (in monetary terms) – some £7.8 million (USD $13 million) – that have been set up within community foundations. Although the largest corporate donors gave an average of £290,000 (USD $500,000), there has been a marked growth in smaller business that give £25,000 (USD $42,000) or less through their local community foundation. These latter contributions are valued as bringing with them local networking opportunities and the potential to raise the profile of the foundation’s work.

Commenting on the findings, Stephen Hammersley, CEO of UK Community Foundations, remarked: “Businesses have a vital role to play in supporting their local communities. While many already give generously, if more could be done to unlock donations, the potential for lasting change is huge.  With even a fraction of the potential £49 billion, our network could address some of the biggest issues facing our society today.” In 2013, community foundations in the UK made over 20,000 grants, distributing over £62 million (more than USD $100 million) to local causes. The total managed endowment stood at £380 million (USD $650 million), an increase of 13% on the previous year. The majority of funding across the network still comes from trusts and foundations (27% including dormant trusts), private sources (25%), with the next largest funding source being the business sector (17%). There is a clear benefit to those businesses that wish to demonstrate their commitment to investing in communities where they are based, and from where they draw their employees.

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