Government endowment scheme open for bids

Councils for voluntary service, community foundations and development trusts have been invited to bid to become local administrators of a £130m government programme to help small voluntary and community groups.

Grassroots Grants comprises £80m of small grants for community organisations and a £50m endowment ‘challenge’. As part of the challenge, local philanthropists are being asked to make donations that will be matched by the Government to create investment funds offering long-term grant streams for third sector organisations.

The two funds will be divided up between the English regions. Both single organisations and partnerships can bid to become ‘local funders’, which will be responsible for distributing the money. Tenders must be submitted to the Community Development Foundation, which is administering the programme nationally.

Community foundations are expected to win most of the tenders, either alone or in partnership with other organisations.

The Community Foundation Network believes the value of the donations could be trebled, raising more than £1bn for local communities.

“This is a remarkable initiative with the potential to transform local charitable giving,” said the network’s chief executive Stephen Hammersley. “Sixteen years ago, a similar investment of £2m was made and the three community foundations involved now manage more than £65m of endowment, generating well over £3m of charitable investment in local communities every single year.

“On this basis, the £50m challenge should be the springboard to more than £1.5bn of community endowment in England.”

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