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Expanding Dormant Assets Scheme could provide catalyst for growing community philanthropy


Expanding the Dormant Assets Scheme could be the catalyst for growing community philanthropy in the UK, according to a new report by UK Community Foundations.

The report, ‘A place for philanthropy: the role of local giving in addressing regional inequality and building community resilience’, looks at the work of the UK’s 47 community foundations through the lens of the Levelling Up agenda. It explains how community philanthropy plays an important role in tackling regional inequality and looks at some of the ways it can be grown to help build the resilience of communities.

It points to an expansion of the Dormant Assets Scheme as a “once in a generation opportunity to leverage the value of community philanthropy and provide funding which empowers local people to change their places for the better”.

The report continues:

“The funding yet to be allocated from the Dormant Assets Scheme could be the catalyst to help build a sustainable financial asset base for communities across the country.

“By providing the fiscal stimulus to help incentivise community philanthropy, the Government could help ensure that dormant assets money continues to support a broad range of good causes now, and in the long term.”

It says that if tried and tested mechanisms like match funding and community endowment building are utilised, there is an opportunity for dormant assets money to multiply both in value and in terms of the positive difference it can make.

The report’s main conclusions are:

Money from the Dormant Assets Scheme could be used to launch a government-backed match-funding programme that would aim to build community endowments to ensure a lasting impact. In doing this, the Government would multiply the value of dormant assets and help build a sustainable source of funding for the voluntary sector. It would also help encourage a new generation of local philanthropists.Community philanthropy is already playing a role in creating social capital – one of the key drivers of the Levelling Up agenda. It brings people together from across different sectors and increases understanding of local issues and how to distribute funding to charities that address them. This helps build community cohesion and encourages more strategic charitable giving.

In many cases the pandemic proved to be pivotal for improving the relationship between local authorities and the voluntary sector. This should be built on. Moving forward there should be meaningful representation of the voluntary sector in initiatives that encourage collaboration between communities and local authorities. 

Rosemary Macdonald, CEO of UK Community Foundations commented:

“We are living in turbulent times. We need to look at how we can build the resilience and capacity of our communities. This means putting real power and resources in the hands of local people. The Dormant Assets Scheme presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to do that by growing community philanthropy. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Our members been working with local people for decades to create opportunities and support communities. We should be using the local knowledge, insights, and expertise that is already there.”

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