Charity Awards 2024

Berkshire Community Foundation

Improving support for local voluntary organisations

After identifying a number issues affecting the capacity of Berkshire voluntary organisations – local cuts, a lack of PR skills, poor applications, an inability to demonstrate need effectively, and replication – BCF realised that small and vital groups within the local community were crying out for practical support in an increasingly challenging fundraising environment.

Therefore, in 2017 BCF created a new community liaison officer (CLO) post to improve collaboration, access to funding and sustainability. The innovative role providing outward-facing support has had a transformational effect and exceeded expectations.

A reduction in statutory funding had led to increased applications to the Foundation. The CLO was able to provide organisations with the tools and knowledge to access other sources of funding. Training and advice was given to improve their ability to demonstrate impact. Education to improve applications has resulted in fewer being rejected for being badly written.

Better PR and social media content, and successful partnership working between groups, has saved money and time, as well as raising both theirs and BCF’s profile significantly. Overall outcomes included an upskilling of over 300 organisations, 65 one-to-one funding support sessions, ten funding workshops, and bespoke advice to over 400 people.

BCF’s 2018 annual charity symposium was attended by over 150 groups, the largest in its ten-year history, providing vital infrastructure training to local charities. Feedback from all sessions was overwhelmingly positive, with one attendee remarking that “it is rare to see a local grant funder developing this level of practical support for groups on the ground in addition to their grant awards”.

Charity Awards judge John Low said BCF “understand their local environment and are trying to be very focused and considered about how they are responding to that”. They are “making a difference within their local community,” he said.

Danielle Walker Palmour added the Foundation was working alongside the community in a very sensitive way.

CC reg no: 1155173

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