Community philanthropy in Somerset
As I approach a year since joining Somerset Community Foundation (SCF), I find myself reflecting on the generosity I have seen from our donors and the wonderful ways in which they have supported our community, here in Somerset. The places and people they seek to support are so varied but are nearly always closely related to experiences they have had. These range from the family wishing to support the type of work their son had done before his untimely death, to the mental health projects close to the heart of someone who has experienced their own mental ill-health, and everything in between.
Understanding the motivations of our fundholders and those who give to other funds such as Surviving Winter and The Somerset Fund have really brought community philanthropy (community members working together and leveraging community resources to better address challenges and improve the quality of life in a community) to life.
Perhaps one of the saddest things for me is not being able to have these types of conversations with those who have passed away, leaving a gift to Somerset Community Foundation in their Will. Sometimes we have been close to those people during their lifetime and have a good understanding of their motivations and interests but sometimes we haven’t had much, if any, contact with people choosing to leave us a legacy.
What is clear though, is that those who leave a gift to SCF have a commitment to, or love for, Somerset and/or their local community. Beyond that they recognise our expertise in philanthropy and grant making and know that through us they can play their part in community philanthropy and support the local causes and places that matter most to them. They recognise that we support the charities, community groups, social enterprises and individuals in Somerset who can best use grants and funding to make a difference, helping to change the world on our doorsteps.
I have also been amazed by the reach that the Foundation has across our county, the tireless effort that staff and trustees put into making Somerset thrive and the breadth of the projects that are supported. Perhaps one of the more enlightening things has been our Hidden Somerset reports which shine a light on many of the unseen issues in our county. I was recently involved with the launch of the Food Poverty report and was particularly touched at the virtual launch event when I heard Jusna from the Community Council for Somerset speak of the challenges ethnic minority communities face and the work that she and the Somerset Diverse Communities team are doing to support ethnic minority community groups to thrive.
I feel very privileged to be part of the Somerset Community Foundation team and to witness the special role that community philanthropy plays in our county. Together, SCF, our donors and the wonderful organisations we support can work towards helping our local communities build stronger, thriving communities for a better future.
If you are reading this and have already remembered Somerset in your Will, thank you. If you are thinking of updating or writing your first Will and are considering the impact you can make after your lifetime, please do feel free to get in touch for a confidential and no obligation discussion about the options we can offer. Whatever the value of your gift, it can make a real difference to your local community. We can talk with you about the impact you wish to make, the types of people and organisations you want to support and the places and issues that matter most to you. We can help you to understand the need in the county and tell you more about the amazing work that is already taking place. We can also help you to ensure that anything you write into your Will now, is still relevant in years to come.
Whether giving during your lifetime, in your Will or a combination of the two, community philanthropy can make a significant difference to the lives of our neighbours living in Somerset now and for future generations to come.