Transforming local lives through grants
For the past thirty years Hertfordshire Community Foundation has awarded grants to local community groups and organisations helping tackle need and deprivation across Hertfordshire.
This month we talk to Jo Connell, Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF) Trustee and Chair of HCF’s Grants Committee to find out more.
Why is Hertfordshire important to you?
I have lived here for more than 30 years and I feel fortunate to call Hertfordshire home. It is where my children were educated, my friends live, my career was and lastly, but by no means least, it is where I was Pro Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of Hertfordshire.
How did you get involved with Hertfordshire Community Foundation?
Following my retirement my charitable work included Chair of a national charity, Help the Aged, but over time I wanted to make a positive difference to the people of Hertfordshire so I joined HCF. Nine years later I haven’t looked back.
What is the Hertfordshire Community Foundation?
HCF is a charity which makes grants to local organisations and to individuals living in crisis. HCF conducts its own research, Hertfordshire Matters, which enables HCF to provide vital support to groups working to improve the lives of Hertfordshire’s residents. Grants are funded through the generosity of local donors who share our vision to create a better Hertfordshire for everyone.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Whether it’s a grant of £ 5k to help run a new music therapy group for dementia sufferers or a £ 300 grant for a mother to buy a washing machine so she can provide clean clothes for her children, I know HCF can make a difference. This is hugely rewarding.
How can groups apply for a grant?
HCF offers grants ranging from £ 200 up to £ 50,000 to groups, organisations and individuals where a small grant can make a big difference. Details of all funding opportunities can be found online at www. hertscf.org.uk. The application process is straightforward and the grants team at HCF is always happy to help. HCF also offers training opportunities through HCF Training & Development.
“Whether it’s a grant of £5k to help run a new music therapy group for dementia sufferers or a £300 grant for a mother to buy a washing machine so she can provide clean clothes for her children, I know HCF can make a difference. This is hugely rewarding.”
What does the Grants Committee do?
All applications are reviewed by HCF’s Grants team who undertake due diligence and present a brief report to the Grants Committee. The Grants Committee then discusses each application at a quarterly meeting before deciding whether to approve it, defer it (so that additional information can be requested) or reject it.
What is the greatest challenge?
Deciding which applications not to fund. We simply don’t have sufficient funds to support all applications which means that we regularly turndown worthwhile projects. This is always really hard– especially when we are seeing an increase in the volume of applications.
In the past, HCF has typically awarded grants of up to £5,000. Thanks to two local philanthropists we have just launched a ‘major grants’ programme providing grants of up to £50,000. This is great news for the county and it will enable HCF to increase its impact further.
How can people get involved?
Anyone who wants to make a difference locally should consider supporting HCF. Donations, of any size, will stay in the county for the benefit of local residents and they will be directed in a way that delivers real impact. Charitable giving can’t get much more rewarding.
Jo Connell, HCF Trustee
Making a difference through grants to families in need
Music24 music therapy group