Chief Executive’s Message
“Looking back on 2016, there is no doubt that it was a difficult time for many charities and community groups across Norfolk.”
Faced with continuing funding cuts across the public sector on a national and local level the challenge for the charitable sector was to develop alternative funding streams to continue its valuable work. Unfortunately those challenges will only continue in 2017. Whilst we can be proud of delivering over £2.4 million in grant funding on behalf of our donors in 2016 we know that demand will always out strip our ability to fund the applications we receive annually.
Community foundations across the UK continue to be looked upon, not only as philanthropy advisors but to take a community leadership role that will drive and influence positive social change in the locations in which they operate. This is a role we take very seriously, as it is only by understanding need in Norfolk can we advise our donors and potential donors about what the issues are and how best to engage in addressing them. That said, we must never lose sight of what I consider what is our primary role, which is to ensure funding is available to support charities and community groups in delivering their work which is so vital to the life and wellbeing of so many Norfolk residents. This will be achieved by identifying and encouraging new donors to work with the Foundation to deliver their charitable giving and to work with our existing donors to ensure that their giving is enjoyable and as impactful as possible.
This role can be highlighted in two key pieces of work undertaken by the Norfolk Community Foundation in 2016. At our Love Norfolk 6 event in April 2016 we launched our Mental Health Wellbeing Match Funding Challenge. Recognising that mental health issues are not gender or age specific, and can affect people from all walks of life, our challenge was to raise £500,000 of new funding to directly support the myriad of charities and voluntary groups of all sizes that provide such valuable services supporting individuals and families in the community. Grassroots local support is a lifeline for people with nowhere else to turn, whether they are recovering from trauma, addiction or mental breakdown, or coping daily with stress, depression, anxiety or loneliness and the demand for such support is only set to grow in 2017, as statutory mental health services continue to be affected by cuts and are stretched to capacity. I am pleased to say that we exceeded our target and 2017 will see us continuing our efforts in this area alongside the need to support Carers and care provision in Norfolk.
2016 also saw the launch of our first Vital Signs report – a research project that identifies keys trends and emerging social issues across Norfolk. It was widely acclaimed as a report that was both easy to read and impactful in the way it reported and highlighted need in Norfolk today. Crucially it helps to inform our grant making and also helps us to advise our donors and public sector partners about keys areas of need and how, by working together, we can be more strategic about addressing these issues head on. 2017 will see us launch our second Vital Signs report that will focus in depth on an area that needs particular attention so that awareness is raised and we can all consider how best to address these now in the future.
In 2017, our work will be to encourage donors to play a part in enacting the social change that is needed and provide valuable financial support that will ensure charities and community groups continue to exist and thrive – whether through setting up a fund, a donation of any size into the Love Norfolk Fund or joining one of our collective giving memberships such as The Norfolk 100 or Norfolk Future Fund. With so many ways of working with the Foundation please contact us and get involved in the good work that the voluntary and community sector achieves for Norfolk.