Unlocking the power of community for Our Common Good
Jayne Woodley, CEO, Oxfordshire Community Foundation
At Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) we want people in Oxfordshire to have better lives. For us, this means that no-one should have to sleep rough on our streets and everyone should have a place to call home; where every child has aspirations and the opportunity to thrive; and no-one has to experience the despair of loneliness, but instead can enjoy a true sense of belonging.
To make this a reality, we believe in unlocking the power within our communities enabling charities, businesses and the public sector (city, district and country councils) to work collectively in shared endeavour to improve opportunities for those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Therefore, with the new year 2020 almost here, I am delighted with the progress Oxfordshire Community Foundation has made during 2019 which has seen the launch of two key strategic programmes Growing Minds – a school readiness project to reduce educational disadvantage and Oxford Homeless Movement – a partnership of 38 organisations working to ensure that nobody should have to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford. What better evidence of how Oxfordshire Community Foundation is already working in collaboration with others to unlock the power of community and starting to build an unstoppable movement for Our Common Good.
We believe OCF has a role to play at the heart of such social transformation, providing a voice for the community and the space for partnerships to come together.
We acknowledge that our aspiration to find local solutions to national problems is simply beyond the capacity of any one organisation. However, the real challenge we see is often not a lack of money but more a lack of co-ordination between all our various efforts as individuals and organisations.
Whenever, I talk about OCF, I am always minded to mention Our Common Good and the collective priority we share to inspire more “place making” by enhancing the role of national and local philanthropy to renew and empower communities to seek out ever more collaborations and cross-sector partnerships.
In 2020 Oxfordshire Community Foundation will be celebrating 25 years working across Oxfordshire looking to find local solutions to the national problems that are holding our communities back – homelessness, educational disadvantage, inequality and loneliness. With this experience behind us we are becoming increasingly outspoken, seeking out every opportunity to share our knowledge and insight, adding our voice and influence to achieve greater impact.
Whereas previously we might have underestimated the effort and coordination required to influence real social change we now understand the real power behind movements as well as the time it takes for trust to establish and partnerships to flourish.
The inherent nature of our sector and fundraising in particular, means we are far too focussed on our own causes and it is often difficult to leave egos and organisations at the door when all the while we know this no longer makes any sense. If for no other reason than we are humans and humans crave contact and meaningful connections – we thrive in having a purpose and knowing that we are making a difference in the world.
At Oxfordshire Community Foundation we believe that collaboration will take us further than competition every time. We know that by coming together over our common good we will ‘close the gap’ that aspirational space that exists between what we would like to happen and what we can actually achieve on our own.
There’s an African proverb that states ‘alone we can go far but together we can go so much further’ and for me that means pooling our resources wherever possible, avoiding the desire to duplicate but instead finding ways to support and add our voice to those who are already ahead of us or might want to help us do what we want to do even better.
So the time has come for us to step out of the shadows and reboot our mindsets, this is not a revolution simply a coordinated evolution, shining a light on all the great stuff that is already happening but also paving the way and making it easy for others to take action too. We all have a choice to collaborate – not such a difficult decision just one that requires us to believe that by pledging to support Our Common Good we are placing our time, talent and treasure where it will truly amplify.
I do hope that you will be inspired to join our movement and that we can share a new year’s resolution to do more together to unlock the power of community.