Behind the scenes tour

This case study details the process of the Wright Funk Fund founders when they first came to speak to County Durham Community Foundation.

The couple, both lower rate taxpayers, had recently inherited money from their parents and decided, rather than keep it, they would use the money to benefit others in their local community. They wanted to set up some form of long-term charitable fund, but didn’t know what they could actually do, the steps they needed to take or how they could maximise their donations. They investigated by ringing local voluntary sector charities and asking for assistance, but they just couldn’t find the answers, information or expertise they needed to start their fund. After undertaking research into sourcing beneficiaries, they began to realise that it would be an enormous task to set up a charitable trust themselves. They were also wary of giving substantial amounts to charities that didn’t quite match their criteria or where they would have no feedback on how the money was spent.

None of the charities they spoke to could help them target funds locally to their chosen causes or offer them any involvement in deciding where their money would be spent. Finally, a local voluntary organisation suggested they contact County Durham Community Foundation and a meeting was arranged.

Realising their dream;

Once the go-ahead was received, we started our initial research to find potential candidates by contacting local Social Services Departments, with whom we had strong links through another of our funds.

Our past work highlighted there was a real need for this type of support in the County Durham area; our contacts in the local authority had mentioned they were finding it increasingly difficult to support every case with their dwindling budget.

In order to get this fund established and placed firmly in the mind of those third parties who work with potential applicants, we commissioned and paid for a consultant to undertake some research and compile a report of the findings. The research aimed to establish the issues faced by young people in care and care leavers and to find out what they were entitled to from state benefits. The consultant also researched the level of need in the community, based on discussions with Social Services, Connexions, (a national service for young people leaving school, that provides advice and support on education, health and careers) and other voluntary sector organisations.

How do we find the right people for the Wright Funk Fund?

Through years of developing contacts with social workers in the (then) eight district authorities covering County Durham and Darlington, we were able to ensure that the right people were advised of the fund criteria and how they should apply. Having these contacts ensured we were able to locate and reach the people most in need of support, who are often the most difficult to find.

Once the research was complete, we were ready to send out targeted letters to people the Wright Funk Fund could help. Having the research information allowed us to ensure we targeted families and individuals that needed support via their social workers, therapists or a support service they had accessed.

In order to make it easier for applicants to apply, we designed an application form with a supporting reference form, which was sent out with mailings, publicity materials and on request. The application form serves as a questionnaire, designed to be easy and straightforward to complete and asking questions for us to make informed decisions during the assessment. A full assessment of the applicant is then undertaken by an external assessor via an informal telephone call, to ensure the applicant really is in need of the donor’s support.