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 ‘community 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 can support the set up and administration of these funds on behalf of local communities using our expertise in facilitation, community development, governance and award making (grants or loans).
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, communities decide how all funds are used (within the agreements set out between the community, Foundation Scotland and the fund donor). We can also hold the fund on the community's behalf, providing the necessary governance support.
Companies often make charitable investments in the communities they are working in. 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 establsihed with this money can vary in value from a few thousand pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.
Foundation Scotland has a strong track record of working with developers and communities as an independent third party to establish and run such 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.
The Foundation offers a professional, efficient and flexible service that avoids the need to set up a seperate charitable trust, but will be tailored to the aspirations of communities and developers. While we are often approached by developers, community representatives may also approach us for support with a fund that is being offered to them. Our support remains the same, and we will work with both parties to reach an outcome that ensures good governance of and maximum impact from the fund.
Community benefit arrangements vary in terms of how payments are structured, depending on the developer. Whatever the case, the Foundation always seeks to secure its fee for setting up and administering community benefit funds over and above the amount that the developer offers the community.
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.
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 is currently delivering the Spirit of 2012 Trust’s Fourteen programme in Scotland. Under this programme we have supported bespoke arrangements in six communities which have each been allocated £250,000 to 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. A representative group of community members is supported by the Communities Team to decide how to spend their fund to best meet the programme outcomes and local priorities identified by the community.