When the Scottish Community Foundation was asked for advice on how to administer a wind farm community benefit fund, the organisation masterminded an innovative model that gives local people the chance to retain control over the money without the administrative burden.
It worked with Scottish and Southern Energy to pilot its new approach at the company's Drumderg Wind Farm in Perth and Kinross. SCF set up a local advisory panel that could decide how money should be spent and supported it by promoting the availability of funds, assessing and recommending applications, making grants and providing an audit trail for its awards.
Developers previously had two ways to award community benefit funds. Money could either go to the community directly - usually through its community council or a new charitable trust - or via the local authority. However, the first method did not take into account a community's ability to manage high-value awards or allow for the complexity of several areas benefiting from one fund.
Following the second route often meant the fund did not go specifically to the affected area and gave people little say about how it was spent.
Acting as an intermediary, the SCF took on the administration of the fund and made its operation simple and transparent. Where possible, the foundation aimed to offer a free service to communities by negotiating with private sector developers to cover the costs.
Nigel Siederer, founder of The Good Foundations Consultancy and a category judge, said the scheme provided "an inspiring model of how communities can receive major funds from energy developers and use them in the most productive way".
Fellow judge Peter Stanford, the chair of Aspire, praised the foundation as "a model in innovation". The model has since been used for another 12 wind farm projects, from the Orkney Islands to the Scottish Borders.
Awarded to a grant-making trust or foundation that has reaped the benefits of a revised or innovative approach to its work
Nicola Evans, senior associate, Bircham Dyson Bell
Nigel Siederer, founder, The Good Foundations Consultancy
Peter Stanford, director, the Longford Trust, and chair, Aspire
Clare Thomas, chair, Association of Charitable Foundations