The Path Fund
The Path Fund joined the world of philanthropy in 2016. The founders have a background in architecture and combined with their compassion for the less privileged, this brought about their interest in projects that restore heritage buildings, which after restoration, can be used by the local community.
With no prior experience in grantmaking, they decided to approach Foundation Scotland to help manage their giving and make informed decisions about where their money went. The founding members, who wish to remain anonymous, reflected that:
Setting up a fund is something many people won’t be familiar with. That was the case for us. It’s quite a daunting thing to do but as a family, we’ve always been interested in philanthropy.
During one of the initial meetings with Foundation Scotland, The Path Fund founders were given the story of the Betty and Roy Ure Memorial Fund. Reading the story of another donor and the impact their fund has made and is still making inspired them and helped them to decide to open a Foundation Advised Fund, a type of fund where Foundation Scotland source and recommend projects for donors.
Working with Foundation Scotland
In the time since the fund’s inception, the founders have made great strides by taking a ‘learning by doing’ approach. They’ve been experimenting with multiple ways of giving, from donating to specific charities via their Donor Portal to visiting potential projects to fund. One of the founders said:
We’ve changed so much. Our fund is already bigger than it was when we started, and we have plans to get even bigger. It’s been quite an amazing journey. I imagined it would be agreeing to sums of money being paid to people. But it’s been a lot more ‘feet on the ground’ than that. You see what’s going on out there and you become invested. We’re open-minded about where we’re going now. There’s lots of different ways you can work with Foundation Scotland and that’s a huge learning opportunity.
The fund has supported some capital projects run by established charities such as the restoration of National Trust properties, Lindisfarne Castle and Seaton Delaval. As well as this, they have also provided funding for the Ridge, a social enterprise based in Dunbar. The Ridge wanted to create jobs and training opportunities in the local area and protect and develop local heritage for future generations.
They launched a project to transform some derelict buildings into a drop-in centre, training kitchen and temporary accommodation for those facing homelessness. The Path Fund supported the group with funding for professional design fees. This funding was crucial in enabling the group to gain further grants towards the project and today the centre supports over 300 people every year.
When working in partnership with charities the Path Fund has been told that their role as a small private donor helped give others confidence to invest. One charity the fund has supported, told them that their seed funding was ‘the keystone’, and without it, they wouldn’t have been able to get additional funding.
The Path Fund are aware that working with smaller charities can have its risks because it’s difficult to tell whether a project will be successful. That’s why the fund members find working with Foundation Scotland so helpful.
They all have a lot of charity experience, which none of us do, and that blend is good. Sometimes ignorance is bliss and you can go forward with no fear because you don’t see what the problems might be, but Foundation Scotland does the due diligence and acts as a sounding board, cautioning us if necessary.
The family behind the fund, who decided to start it while making their wills, are happy that their money will be used in a meaningful way even after they’re gone.
As the years go by and times change, you’ve still got your solid contract with Foundation Scotland – they know the overall aims and it’ll always tick on. As part of the long-term plan, we have recently appointed two younger Advisers who will have a succession role. At the recent Foundation Scotland Gathering at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, we were reminded that the Path Fund is part of the £20 million Foundation Scotland has paid in grants to support communities in the last year. We are proud to be part of that.