Community foundations support Office for Civil Society in revitalising trusts to support local communities

The Revitalising Trusts initiative, announced yesterday in the Government’s Civil Society Strategy, will provide a huge boost to local charities by distributing funds from inactive trusts to good causes.

There are many charitable trust funds in England and Wales that are inactive. The original founders and trustees may have passed away and many of the funds are now relatively small pots of money, which makes it difficult to ensure they have a meaningful and local impact. However, collectively these trusts amount to a significant amount that could make a huge difference to local communities.

The Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission are working with UK Community Foundations to transfer up to £20million of inactive trusts to community foundations to invest into local communities. It is expected that this will provide an extra £1 million in grant funding to local community and voluntary groups every year.

Community foundations are established, trusted charities that support local communities across the UK. Community foundations reach every postcode in the UK and focus on the most pressing needs in an area. Community foundations are leading grant makers and have a strong track record of supporting communities. They are reliable with a trusted model of delivery and are all quality accredited. Locally, Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) has made over £1.2 million in grants in the past financial year alone, supporting 183 organisations.

One community foundation donor, who transferred a charitable fund in her father’s name, said: “I was a little sceptical at first, as I didn’t want our family trust to lose its identity; I wanted it to continue in the way that we had set it up and to retain some involvement in where the money was spent. To my relief, when I discussed my concerns with the foundation, I discovered that they were as keen as I was to ensure that the fund stayed true to its purpose, and that I could remain as involved as I wanted.”

The Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society have chosen to work with community foundations based on their expertise and experience in supporting communities and ensuring that funds are distributed well to tackle local need.

Minister for Civil Society Tracey Crouch said: “This initiative will make a real difference to people and communities across the country. By working with UK Community Foundations and the Charity Commission, we will honour the original aims of these now-inactive charitable trusts by redistributing funds to help those that need it most.”

Jayne Woodley, CEO of Oxfordshire Community Foundation, said: “OCF offers established systems for advertising, processing and monitoring grants, as well as comprehensive links with the charitable groups carrying out the most impactful work in areas of need locally. Where the original donor has died, we can help trustees ensure that grants are made in the spirit of the charity’s objects.”

Fabian French, CEO of UK Community Foundations, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission to unlock these inactive trusts to benefit local communities for years to come. We have developed a simple solution that helps inactive trusts transfer their assets, which meets all the required Charity Commission approvals.”

B4 is supported by