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Calls for £130m Community First match funding scheme to be repeated

Calls for £130m Community First match funding scheme to be repeated

UK Community Foundations (UKCF), the umbrella body for the UK’s 48 community foundation charities, is urging the new government to repeat its successful Community First scheme, which generated £130 million for grassroots causes in England.

Community First ran from 2011 with support from the coalition government and closed at the end of March 2015. Overseen by UKCF, the campaign matched donations by individuals, companies and charitable trusts by 50%, with the funding coming from the Office for Civil Society.

Total income

UKCF says that the campaign raised £118,952,338.78 from private donations and government match funds. When you add endowment investment returns accrued over the programme, the total collective endowment fund is now worth more than £130 mlllion.

Grants made in stages

So far, Community First has awarded 2,373 grants worth £5.8 million to local causes across England. These range from mental health support and elderly care, to drug and alcohol recovery programmes and foodbanks.

Because Community First runs on an endowment model, the money will not be used in one go. Each year, a portion of each community foundation’s Community First endowment fund will be given to the local charities that need it most, while the endowments themselves remain in place forever, ensuring a continual stream of funding.

Repeating the success

UK Community Foundations philanthropy director Mark Greer said that Community First “had demonstrated how brilliantly match funding schemes can work”.

He added:

“Now is not the time to let the ball drop and we are urging the new government to build on the success of Community First.

“We must keep up the momentum around Community First and we now want to see a similar scheme backed by the Conservative leadership. The appetite for the scheme was undeniable – donors were truly inspired by the official match, seeing they could get ‘more bang’ for the bucks they gave”.

He suggested that the devolved administrations should also consider running similar match funding efforts to help support their local communities.


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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