Suffolk Community Foundation 
- Helping People in Need

Iain Jamie.

What’s your resolution for 2014? If it’s philanthropic and you are looking to help those close to home, the Suffolk Community Foundation is probably the very best place to start. Anne Gould talks to Iain Jamie, Chair of its Development Board


For a charity that was set up in 2005 The Suffolk Community Foundation has every right to feel proud of itself. From a standing start it’s awarded 2,400 grants worth in excess of £7.5million to 1500 groups.  It’s created Suffolk Dog Day, which has become a highlight of the summer, as well as a structure where community giving in the county can continue well into the future. 
But says Iain Jamie, of the Suffolk Community Foundation, despite the fact the team are totally dedicated and are doing a completely amazing job - the charity has ambitions to do even more. The will and the expertise is certainly there - the problem is that despite everything it’s done so far there are still many people, potential donors and businesses that are not aware the Foundation even exists.

Iain, who by day is Land director at Hopkins Homes, has become increasingly involved with the foundation  initially as Chair of the Dog Day committee and now in the voluntary positions of Trustee and Chair of its Development Board.

“We are very fortunate to have a lot of friends who look after us very well and once people find out what we do, they become committed. However Suffolk is a big county and we know the message hasn’t got out to everyone either individuals or the corporately. Lots of people have pots of money they want to put into charity and do not know the best way to do it. What we offer is the opportunity to manage that money and pass it on to small charities and community organisations in the county that really benefit” he explained. 
“These people don’t have the resources or professional fund-raisers that some of the big charities and often they are not looking for huge sums either.”

On the outside, with its lush farms, picture postcard villages and spectacular “posh” seaside Suffolk might look a wealthy county but the Foundation’s recent Hidden Needs research showed that there were pockets of real deprivation. They’ve set out to help this redress this many ways through a number of different initiatives.

“For example this year Suffolk Community Foundation is setting up a “Sports Fund” and are looking to raise £400,000 by July to provide grass roots sports opportunities to those who might otherwise not be able to be involved. Sport offers so many benefits - it can have a positive impact on health and so many areas of your life and people understand it too. It won’t be the established rugby, football clubs that funds will go to, but for instance something like a boxing club in a poorer area of Lowestoft that’s aiming to take teenagers off the streets. We’d be making small grants but ones that could make a real difference to that organisation and the people that use it and we’ll be looking to get matched funding from the Government”

Another annual project is Surviving Winter which aims to help older people in the county suffering from the cold because of fuel poverty. Suffolk has a particular problem in that it’s one of the worst counties for off-grid heating in the UK and on average there are 454 excess winter deaths here because of the cold. Last year, thanks to the Foundation’s Surviving Winter Appeal however, there were 320 grants of about £220, made through Age UK Suffolk, enabling older people to keep warm.

Iain explained that donors don’t need to be tied to specific charities - there are many options - the Foundation can simply use their money in a different way. People can join a giving circle for instance. “We have the Suffolk 100 fund - where people can give as little as £1,000 a year to as much as they want, providing they commit to the scheme for three years. The money will grow from year to year and they also have the option to add to it.” There’s also the Rosa Giving Circle - formed by a group of women and targeted specifically at helping girls or women in need.

Another option is to set up your own endowment - the Foundation now manages more than 50 of them each of which funds a specific charity. This method is excellent for long term giving and endowments can also attract matched funding, which makes it go further. Setting up an endowment allows people to choose how that money is spent - some are keen to spread their money across a number of charities while others want to see it go into specific areas  the arts, music, the long-term unemployed, carers, the physically disabled, children and young people, the elderly or community groups.

The great thing, he said, is that because the money is spent locally the donors have the option to get involved go and visit the project they are funding and see how much of a difference it makes. Or, he says, people can simply make a donation - maybe through a will or sometimes when people sell a business they choose to give a lump sum instead.

Iain says that he’s absolutely committed to helping the Foundation and would welcome the opportunity to speak to anyone who wants to know more.

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