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Foundation helps Norfolk groups achieve so much

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:57 01 July 2010

Norfolk Community Foundation's fifth birthday celebration event at Dragon Hall.

Norfolk Community Foundation's fifth birthday celebration event at Dragon Hall.

Sam Emanuel

It has given more than £1m to hundreds of small community groups and charities since it was set up five years ago by the Bishop of Norwich, and now the Norfolk Community Foundation is looking forward to the next five years.

It has given more than £1m to hundreds of small community groups and charities since it was set up five years ago by the Bishop of Norwich, and now the Norfolk Community Foundation is looking forward to the next five years. SAM EMANUEL finds out more.

Small groups, clubs, organisations and charities might be the lifeblood of communities across Norfolk, but they often lose out on funding to larger, better-known charities.

However, since the Norfolk Community Foundation was set up five years ago by the Very Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, it has championed their cause and secured vital grants for more than 700 of them, which have enabled them to continue to run and better serve their communities.

The grant money awarded by the foundation comes from donations by generous individuals and businesses, which are put into particular funds or accounts.

They are then either allocated to the types of groups or good causes specified by the donor, or given to organisations chosen by the panel made up of trustees and supporters.

Groups which have benefitted from such grants include The Baseline Project, which is part of The Future Project that supports the successful resettlement and reintegration of offenders after a prison sentence, and the Norfolk Association for the Disabled.

Theodore Agnew, a London businessman who has a family home in Norfolk, has now taken over from Bishop Graham as chairman, but the Bishop is still a patron of the foundation and retains an active role in the organisation.

Bishop Graham said: “When I was Bishop in Cornwall I started a community foundation there, which has also grown immensely.

“The reason I started it was because there were lots of community groups and voluntary organisations that were benefitting people in the area which don't need a vast amount of money, but do need some and find it very difficult to access sums of money.

“They help to provide the social glue for our communities. Norfolk has lots of people who want the sense of living in a community to be maintained and the sort of community groups we help are vital to this - they enable people to participate in the life of the community.

“They almost always provide some sort of service to people that wouldn't be provided otherwise. You can't have a community just by having people live next door to each other and never speaking, and because people don't live and work in the same place now, they don't naturally meet.

“More than 80pc of all the money given to charity goes to less than 4pc of charities. They do good work, but they have effective professional fundraising teams. Small local groups don't want to spend all their time fundraising, and so we try and make the process as easy as possible for them.

“Businesses and individuals have been very generous over the course of the last five years. I am very pleased with how it has grown - it's what I hoped and dreamed it might be.”

Graham Tuttle, who has been director of the foundation for a year, said that the number of applications the charity was receiving had been increasing rapidly.

He said: “The Norfolk Community Foundation is seeing a 20pc increase in applications year on year and this is because there are fewer places for people to go for funding.

“We had about 800 applications last year and are expecting just over 1,000 this year.”

He said that the foundation was also beneficial to donors wanting to benefit groups in Norfolk, adding: “We are aware of thousands of organisations, small charities and voluntary groups, and have a very good understanding of them, and so we can direct grants better for the donor, as well as giving them good PR.

“Everyone likes to know their money has been well spent and we follow up every single grant we give with assessments and monitoring.”

For more information, or to apply for a grant or donate to the foundation, visit www.norfolkfoundation.com or call Graham Tuttle on 01603 623958.

To find out about some of the groups the organisation has helped, see tomorrow's Evening News.

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