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Intermediaries help drive community philanthropy, says new report

Intermediaries help drive community philanthropy, says new report


Community foundations and other philanthropic intermediaries play a vital role in community philanthropy, according to a new report by Policy Exchange, the centre-right think tank.

Building Bridges: Philanthropy strengthening communities, launched this week, especially highlights the work of community foundations, which research the needs of local areas and introduce donors to small charities or projects operating “below the radar”. 

However the authors caution that, while those who had dealt with a community foundations praised their work without exception, many were unaware of their existence. 

Yet the authors also emphasised that, “Once our interviewees had found the right project to back, greater engagement often followed, such as offering strategic advice or taking a board seat.” 

One of the key benefits of local giving is that donors can observe the impact of their giving and be reassured that their money was being used well.  “They were often surprised and delighted about how much difference a relatively small amount of money could make – an important observation in this time of straitened circumstances,” the authors observed.

The report also highlights the strong bond which civic engagement can bring: “Once [the philanthropists] were deeply involved with a community, all said it would be very difficult to walk away – their commitment to an area became long-term, the bridges they had built were solid.”

Policy Exchange makes a number of recommendations based on the findings, including:

  • Individuals and intermediaries establish easily accessible giving circles or vehicles that provide formal and informal networks. 
  • Intermediaries provide simple but flexible portfolios of products suited to individual donor needs. 
  • The Government considers tax-effective measures, such as Lifetime Legacies, tax reliefs on the lending of buildings to community organisations, and tax incentives to encourage social investment. 
  • The media promote everyday role models to develop a widespread culture of philanthropy and cultivate a positive vocabulary for philanthropy

To find your local community foundation, visit the Community Foundation Network website.