Written By Ian Revell – MK Community Foundation CEO
At MK Community Foundation we have been playing our enabler role to the full throughout this pandemic and it’s been a real privilege to be at the centre of so much fantastic community response. The Community Foundation was quick off the mark and launched a local MK Covid 19 Emergency appeal on 20th March setting a target of raising £100,000 each month until the end of July. It’s been a tough target to achieve, as many of the people we would have talked to had a lot of other priorities to deal with themselves, from furloughing their staff, protecting themselves and their families, to planning new ways to manage their businesses and community projects. However, amongst it all, there has been an underlying sense of community. Right from the off, neighbours where popping help cards through letter boxes and the surge in people wanting to volunteer was quite overwhelming. For the Community Foundation we found that the strength of our partnerships was paramount to being able to get funding and support to where it was needed. At the beginning there was a rush to do something, almost anything and so a few well-intentioned mistakes where probably made. We realised quickly that we need to simplify our application processes and create faster ways of making decisions. For a funding organisation we always remind ourselves, that it’s not our money we are spending. We always try to keep the philanthropist in mind, what are their intentions, what do they support and what do they need to know so they are able to make the most effective decision of causes to support. We needed to demonstrate we can be trusted to deliver the funding fast and that the funding is spent wisely to the most effect. All of this at considerable pace.
The result has been that we have raise over £100,000 from individual donations in the last few months, have secured corporate support for a further £150,000 and public sector support with funding of £50,000 from MK Council. We’ve worked closely with other funders like the National Lottery, supporting them to direct their funding and we have worked closely with the National Emergency Trust (NET) to secure funding of a further £300,000 for MK’s community groups. At the time of writing we have awarded over £423,000 in grant to over 80 community groups and the feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and incredibly humbling. The work that has been done across our borough has been life-changing and life-enhancing. Please go and have a look for yourself https://www.mkcommunityfoundation.co.uk/news-events/case-studies-emergency-appeal/ .
And we are not finished, nowhere near! We are moving now into the recovery phase of our appeal and funding. We know that the voluntary, community and cultural sector has been hit severely by this pandemic. Many organisations have seen their funding dry up completely, many of the services they provided and from which they received income had to stop, but the bills and costs haven’t. Many of our valued community groups are now on the brink and we need now, more than ever to rally round and give then the support they deserve and I would suggest have earnt through the tireless work keeping us safe and for the support they have given to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, in many cases, bravely carrying out selfless acts.
We need to make much more funding available to these groups now. For us to do that the Community Foundation needs your support. You can see the difference we have been able to make so far and with your continued support we can give our community groups the support they need going forward. We want then not just to survive we want them to thrive!
We are currently working on delivering several new national funding opportunities. Some of these will need match funding for the people of Milton Keynes and from companies in MK. So please keep in touch and help us make the difference needed. Help us fund those organisations that make Milton Keynes the wonderful place it is. Let us ensure our communities arise from this pandemic, stronger, more resilient and more impactful that ever.
Over to you.