The Communities Team supports geographical communities that have the opportunity for income as a result of an infrastructure project in the area, a philanthropic donation targeted towards the whole community or some other funding. These voluntary payments – commonly referred to as ‘community benefit’ - are often linked with renewable energy developments such as wind farms or hydro schemes. Community funds established with this money can vary in value from a few thousand pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.These funds often provide significant opportunities for the communities involved, but can also bring real challenges in ensuring they deliver maximum impact and are disbursed in an accountable way. Foundation Scotland supports the set up and administration of these funds on behalf of local communities using our expertise in facilitation, community development, governance and charitable fund distribution.

Decisions about which communities benefit are predominantly in the hands of the developer but may be reached through discussions between the developer, potential beneficiary communities and sometimes local authority representatives too. In many areas, community councils can play a critical role in representing local communities. In other cases, a different body may be best placed to play such a role. Some local authorities provide guidance about deciding the boundary of benefit. Foundation Scotland is sometimes brought into these discussions at an early point to assist with negotiations.

When Foundation Scotland is invited to get involved with these arrangements we work in partnership with the communities set to benefit, supporting them on strategy and fund disbursal, and ensuring the fund is administered diligently. Through the establishment of local and representative panels or independent community companies, communities decide how all funds are used (within the agreements set out between the community, Foundation Scotland and the fund donor). Where preferred, we can also hold the fund on the community's behalf, providing the necessary governance support.

Foundation Scotland has a strong track record of working with developers and communities as an independent third party to establish and run such funds or support communities with establishing and implementing local structures to distribute funds. We are a leading provider of community benefit funds in Scotland and our model is currently used to deliver over 30% of Scotland’s funds from renewable energy developments. 

From a modest portfolio of activity in 2005/6 when we were initially approached by a wind farm developer to administer a cluster of community funds linked to onshore wind farm community benefit arrangements, the team’s portfolio has grown significantly. The team now administers over 60 community funds of varying scales and arrangements across Scotland, amounting to a resource of over £4 million annually reaching groups and organisatons (that are predominantly volunteer led) working to benefit circa 200 different communities and delivered on behalf of a wide pool of commercial and community clients.

In addition to working on behalf of developers who wish to inject long term funding into communities, the Communities Team will also bid for opportunities to design and deliver other community-based funding programmes where these can benefit from our experience and expertise.

The team delivered the Spirit of 2012 Trust’s Fourteen programme in Scotland between 2015-2018, supporting bespoke arrangements in six communities which were each allocated £250,000 to increase participation in one or more of the following areas: social action and volunteering; grassroots sport and physical activity; culture activity and arts; youth leadership and personal development.  Supported by the CI team, a Panel of citizens in each community distributed their resource budget to best meet the programme outcomes and local priorities identified by the community. This involved a raft of distribution approaches including open grant-making, commissioning specific activity and running a number of participatory grant-making events.  


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