Big Giver: Zurich Community Trust

Pam Webb, head of the grant-making trust, talks to Jenna Pudelek about funding charities that help disadvantaged people move from dependence to independence

Pam Webb
Pam Webb

The Zurich Community Trust funds charities and voluntary organisations that support disadvantaged people as they move from dependence to independence.

Pam Webb, head of the trust, says its grant-making activities fall into two areas, and that it currently receives £2m a year from Zurich Insurance’s UK businesses.

The trust’s social transformation programme funds charities to provide long-term projects with between £1m and £2m over five to 10 years. 

Currently it is funding Addaction, Age UK and the Prince’s Trust, to tackle the cycle of parental drug misuse and its effect on children, isolation of older people through a befriending telephone service, and young people’s mental health through a coalition of mental health charities.

"As a funder we try to address what I would describe as less popular areas," says Webb. Previous grants have gone to charities supporting people with serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, those affected by domestic violence and social exclusion.

"With these big programmes we look at the social issues that are not attracting funding, and we look for potential partners with national reach," she says.

The trust does not accept unsolicited applications for these programmes. Webb says it decides which issues it wants to tackle and researches potential charity partners.

The other side of the trust’s work is Zurich Cares, its employee involvement programme, and local grants fund.

Employees raise £500,000 a year though payroll giving, lotteries and events fundraising, which is matched by a donation of £1m from the company. 

The trust has three national partners – currently these are Clic Sargent, the Alzheimer’s Society and Mind, which receive £50,000 a year over five years.

Staff from each of the company’s 15 offices fundraise and have the opportunity to volunteer. The local grants programme provides grants of between £500 to £10,000 to local community organisations and national charities with local branches.

Webb says at least 50 per cent of the grant goes on core funding, but it is generally higher than that. "We know it’s hard fundraise for salaries," she says. "We fund such a broad range of issues. What we want to do more than anything is help."

Webb advises organisations to check the trust’s website to see whether they are eligible. "We support disadvantaged people to move from dependence to independence," she says. Within that remit the programme has funded environmental projects, dogs that help people with disabilities, projects to help asylum seekers and victims of domestic violence.

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