Annual General Meeting 2010

01 November 2010

Last night, (28th October) County Durham Community Foundation announced they had given out £17 million in grants over the last 15 years and established more than 120 funds on behalf of local people and companies. At their public AGM at Darlington College, they also reported other key achievements and made the first of an annual ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ to Darlington & District Samaritans.

The Foundation, set up in 1995, manages charitable giving on behalf of local people and companies, to maximise their donations and find causes they wish to support in the area where they live and/or work. Community foundations are an American concept, and much of the giving in the USA is made through this mechanism. The first community foundations came over to the UK 20 years ago and the three foundations in the North East are some of the most successful in the country.

County Durham Community Foundation, with Sir Paul Nicholson as its President and many eminent Vice Presidents, including Sir Harold Evans, Tony Blair and Alasdair MacConachie, now has a long term endowment of over £6 million, to benefit County Durham for the foreseeable future. Grants are made from the income derived from the investments on an annual basis and the Foundation not only finds projects to match with donors’ criteria, but also does all the back office administration and provides feedback from the group or individual supported.

The AGM, was opened by Vice President and Chair of Darlington College, Alasdair MacConachie who has a fund with the Foundation and acts as an ambassador on their behalf. He introduced a promotional DVD which featured a range of projects supported across the County with endorsements by fund holders, including Mark Dowdall, Environment & Community Director from the Banks Group.

One of the projects featured in the DVD was JJ Soup Kitchen in Darlington that provides training opportunities for disadvantaged people and meals for those who are homeless. The project was given a grant by Darlington Building Society who have set up a staff committee to make the decisions on where their grant-making should go.

Formal AGM business was followed by the announcement of a new Vice President, John Hamilton OBE, who is well known in the County for his chairmanship of many boards, including Durham TEC and the Upper Weardale Task Force.

Mark I'Anson, chairman of the Foundation, announced the achievements over the last year, including grants of almost £2 million, before outlining figures for the previous 15 years.

  • No of funds set up – 122
  • Income raised for endowment - £6,109,098
  • Grant-making - £16,963,946 (to end March 2010)
  • No of groups supported – 5,282
  • No of individuals supported – 2,265

Despite the economic downturn, donors were still seeing endowment funds as a real long term gain – both for the community and in maximising their giving as a legacy for local people.

Formal AGM business was followed by an inspirational presentation by Tony Vickers, regional director of the Samaritans who highlighted the harrowing issues faced by volunteers on a 24/7 basis. A grant from the Community Foundation had enabled them to set up a texting service for younger users and is now being rolled out nationally.

Following his presentation, Christina Rackley, Head Grants & Donor Development presented him and some of the other Samaritan volunteers with an ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award for their dedication and creativity in using the grant. They also received a cheque for £500. This award will now be made on an annual basis, chosen by Foundation staff from project feedback on the impact of their grant.

Mark Dowdall, from the Banks Group, who supported both the AGM and the promotional DVD, highlighted the company’s CSR philosophy and the success of their relationship with County Durham Community Foundation over the last 15 years.

This was followed by an unusual performance by the Clown Squad, an initiative by TIN Arts, an arts-based not-for-profit company who use different art forms to tackle health and well-being issues. TIN Arts are using clowning to deliver messages to young people to avert them from smoking.

Chief Executive of the Foundation, Barbara Gubbins gave closing remarks and thanks and reflected on the diversity and creativity of the voluntary and community sector and their dedication, and how that might fit into the Big Society. She also emphasised the current opportunity to take up matching money for donors, whereby gifts can be doubled and some instances trebled for higher rate tax earners.

For more information contact County Durham Community Foundation on: 0191 378 6340 or email: