Looking to the future: New grants programmes for Buckinghamshire

30 June 2021

Witnessing and being part of the community response to the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the way we operate as a funder. It has accelerated our approach to working collaboratively with the county and brought us closer to our local communities and the organisations that support them. 

The biggest changes for us have been the move to a rolling programme of grant-making and flexibility over the use of funding.  This has allowed us to respond to need and opportunity as they emerge.  We feel that this has had a positive impact on the way we work with grantees, resulting in more open dialogue about what is needed and how we might be able to offer support. Having granted £2 million in funding through our Covid-19 Support Fund , today we draw the fund to a close. However, we are committed to ensuring that the positive changes we have made to the way we fund continue in the longer term.

A New Funding Strategy

2021 saw us launch our new funding strategy for Buckinghamshire.  Our Community Fund, is live an accepting applications.  Grants of £10K per year (for up to three years) will be made available for third sector organisations who are working with local communities. We want to support organisations who can demonstrate their strength in community engagement and a strong understanding of what their community needs and wants and how to work with them to deliver it.

Informed by the listening exercise we undertook with current grantees in 2020, the fund will offer multi-year grants which can be used flexibly – for core costs, projects and organisational development. Crucially, organisations will be able to apply at any time and notified of a decision within eight weeks.

A Strategic Fund for Recovery

Our Strategic Fund will be open from November.  This will see us re-focus on themes that we were developing pre-pandemic, themes that have been made ever more relevant by the events of 2020.  This includes a commitment to developing a more sustainable local food system and support for the local cultural sector, both will play a significant role in recovery.

The common thread within our Strategic programme is ‘looking to the future’, asking how we, as a Foundation, can use our resource in a way that contributes to building communities that are resilient and fit for the future. As custodians of this future, we are intensifying our support for young people with funding priorities focusing on mental health, employment and skills and a strengthened youth sector.

We aim to offer flexibility in the value of grant available as we recognise that our county is made up of many organisations, diverse in size and scale.  With a maximum grant value of £300K over three years, we aim for our funding portfolio to include ambitious collaborative initiatives that have the potential to make a step-change for the county. We aim to offer the benefits of swift decision making for grants of under £100K whilst larger grants will continue to be decided as part of our bi annual Trustee meetings.

Our Commitment to Collaboration

Collaboration has been a characteristic of our funding that we have been nurturing since 2018. The events of the past fifteen months have helped us to understand the impact that collaboration can have when it is done effectively and its motivation is genuine.  We know that not every solution needs a collaborative approach but when it is needed we want to make sure that everyone has the ability to collaborate and, alongside our grants programmes, will be allocating resource towards this aim.

We look forward to working with you to build a bright future for Bucks.