Why Volunteers’ Week matters for Community Foundations
Volunteering underpins all that is great in our sector. This week we’re rightly celebrating the people who give their time, skills and energy to help people in a variety of ways. The UK has a rich tradition of volunteering and the numbers speak for themselves. At least 22% of the country volunteers at least once a month and the contribution to the economy is a whopping £22.6 billion per year.
But what does it mean for our network?
Volunteering and Community Foundations are synonymous. The amazing small grassroots groups that we support often run on a shoestring budget and reliant on the dedication, hard work and talent of volunteers who invest their time and energy in to helping communities and people.
But what you may not know is that Community Foundations are charities in their own right and also benefit from the contributions of volunteers. On #VolunteersWeek we’d like to give a special shout out to the people who help Foundations to help communities in a variety of different ways.
Trevor Richardson in Durham
Trevor has been volunteering at the Durham Community Foundation for nearly 10 years and helps the Foundation keep its house in order by helping out with filing, phone calls, post and impact reports.
Trevor’s thoughts on volunteering at the Foundation: “I soon realised the foundation was involved with many organisations, charities and individuals and covered a multitude of causes. I believe I may be the longest serving volunteer and I can recommend volunteering with the Foundation to anyone who wants to support it and give something back to local communities.”
Helga from the West Midlands
Helga Edström carries a wealth of relevant knowledge that she brings to the Heart of England Community Foundation in her capacity as an Intelligence Lead at the Office for Civil Society. She plays a crucial role in giving the Foundation the lay of the funding landscape and has a real insight into groups working in the West Midlands. Her insights make her a real asset on the Foundation’s Grant Panels when deciding how and where funding is distributed.
Helga’s experience of the groups the Foundation funds: “The range of applications and the different types of projects we see is vast, from supporting those who are looking for work, volunteering programmes, days out and community fun days, bereaved children, wheelchair salsa groups and musical productions. Every project has a positive impact locally and it’s great when we get a chance to meet and talk to groups we’ve funded.”
A dedicated team of volunteer project assessors in York at the Two Ridings Community Foundation
The Two Ridings Community Foundation which operates in North and East Yorkshire is served by a team of volunteers who play a pivotal role in making sure over 300 groups in the regions get the funding they need to continue making a massive impact in communities. Each assessor has a wealth of relevant experience in the charity sector that they bring to the table.
In the words of Two Ridings Chief Exec, Jan Garrill: “Without the efforts of our project assessors, we wouldn’t be able to fund over 300 projects a year with full confidence that each project is not only effective and sustainable, but also making a real difference to people’s lives.”
Gaye in Berkshire
Gaye Pottinger started volunteering with Berkshire Community Foundation two days a week in June 2013, coming from a background as a chartered surveyor and having worked in real estate research. She made a key contribution to Berkshire’s ‘Vital Signs’ report, first published in October 2013, looking at local surveys and data analysis, trends and social priorities that inform current and future local philanthropy. Since then, Gaye has taken ownership of ‘Vital Signs’, from preparation through to final report. Gaye supports the team in many ways, from taking on ad hoc projects to preparing Queen’s Awards nominations and helping out at events. Gaye’s help is invaluable to the Foundation and its work to support charities and community groups addressing need across Berkshire.