Funding story: The Rayne Foundation

The publicity-shy funder has broken with tradition and issued a second press release in its 45-year history.

Some funders don't want extra publicity. They know that anyone who needs to find them will track them down through the regular directories. Increasingly, though, even the smaller funders are moving away from such an essentially reactive stance. In April, the Rayne Foundation sent out the second press release in its 45-year history and announced what it called "the results of two years of dramatic change".

Some of the foundation's work isn't changing that dramatically. It is sticking to its core priorities: arts, education and health programmes designed to improve the lives of disadvantaged people. And approximately 80 per cent of its money is still going on grants, which average roughly £15,000 each.

In addition, however, there are six new "areas of special interest", with a particular emphasis on architecture and improved workspaces (Lord Rayne, the foundation's founder, worked in property development), and four new "tools to address society's needs" (research, initiatives, ventures and new enterprises), which have already produced Rayne fellowships. These are all linked together by the overarching theme of bridge building.

"We're not going to support an organisation that cannot meet any of our aims," says Tim Joss, director of the foundation, "but these aims have flexibility."

The activities the foundation is involved with are interesting, even if the range is very broad. The fellowships, for instance, have progressed from a first wave of choreographers to a second wave of refugees.

Of the foundation's new approach, Joss says: "You don't get hung up on the tools; you get concerned about the problem. A few years ago, we'd have said: 'We need to do some grant making to address this.' Now we've got other ways to do that. But all the knowledge we've gleaned through grant making will always be an essential component in our decisions."

Crucially, the foundation is keen to get publicity in a way that it hasn't managed before. "We didn't issue a press release because we want press coverage for its own sake," he points out. "We're interested in fantastic organisations that contribute."

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