A government scheme to set up a permanent endowment of up to £150m to fund community projects has opened to receive donations.
In the Community First endowment project, announced in June 2010, the government will contribute 50p for every £1 raised from individuals and companies. It will create an investment pool that from 2015 onwards will pay out funds to the 56 community foundations in the UK, which currently have assets of £224m and exist to provide grants to support local communities.
The government will contribute up to £50m if £100m can be raised from philanthropic sources. Donations might also attract Gift Aid.
Each foundation will be responsible for raising cash at a local level, and each foundation will receive funds from the central pot, based on the level of endowment they have raised to support their geographical area.
The project will be administered by the Community Development Foundation, which will work with the Community Foundation Network, the umbrella body for community foundations. The endowment has received its first donation, from Sussex-based philanthropist Arthur Green, although he has not disclosed how much he has given.
Stephen Hammersley, chief executive of the CFN, said: "Now more than ever, local communities, causes and charities need support they can depend on for the longer term – the kind of support endowed funds can provide.
"Community foundations also understand how supporting and sustaining long-term change can be rewarding to philanthropists and companies that have an interest and stake in the development of local communities.
"The match challenge will help more people discover how rewarding this can be and we are pleased to be part of delivering Community First."