Community, identity and belonging

27 October 2021

The annual Association of Charitable Foundations conference took place earlier this month with a focus on community, identity and belonging. Sessions ranged from the global cooperation needed to resolve the major societal risks heightened by Covid-19 through to including children’s voices in grant-making.

Understanding what community, identity and belonging mean to the communities we support is part of our exploration of place based funding. Whilst the local response to the pandemic demonstrated the impact of community it also highlighted deep inequalities and the need for us, as funders and as a community, to do a lot more in order to bring about change. We have made small steps towards this in our grant-making, increasing the types of organisations eligible for funding and supporting research into the accessibility of services for diverse communities.  However, there is a lot more we can do.  At ACF we attended a session delivered by The Fore focused on how you unlock social change through funding micro organisations. This is of particular relevance to the context of the third sector in Bucks and something we would like to explore at a local level, working with partners who have experience in supporting the development of micro organisations. These organisations offer the opportunity to genuinely reach into the diverse communities that are currently under-represented through our funding.

Later this year we will launch our Strategic programme for Buckinghamshire, building on our approach of convening around shared priorities in order to achieve greater impact. We will look to build specific communities of practice around sustainable food systems, culture and support for young people. This will include core support for organisations working within these areas, building their resilience and their ability to contribute their expertise to collaboration.

As a small team, we use our capacity to be as outward facing as possible but we also recognise that we need to look inward as well.  With local partners we are exploring better use of data to increase our understanding of who we reach and, more importantly, who we don’t.  As an employer we want a more diverse workforce and are taking advice from EDI experts to make our recruitment processes more accessible. We feel that the most genuine way to increase our confidence in how we talk about and address issues of belonging and identity is through collaboration and we will continue to identify opportunities and invite approaches from those interested in working together.