Since joining Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) in a new philanthropy role last autumn after working almost exclusively for single cause charities, I’ve been asked why donors should give to a community foundation, rather than directly to a cause close to their heart.

If you want to alleviate hardship in Oxfordshire, you may already know which charities to support – place-based organisations in an area of deprivation, or those working on causes such as homelessness or food poverty. Why then, should you consider giving to OCF? 

The honest answer is that you shouldn’t necessarily give to us. 

If you already have a clear understanding of the change you wish to bring about, and if you know and trust a charitable organisation that works effectively to create this change, then giving directly to your chosen organisation may well be the best approach for your philanthropy. With direct giving, donors and organisations often build relationships of mutual trust that result in a lasting and positive impact on key social issues. 

However, although giving to charity can be easy, it is not always clear how to have the most impact with your giving. This is where a community foundation can bring huge value.

For some people keen to make Oxfordshire a better place to live for everyone, the statements below may ring true:

  • Your knowledge of the challenges faced by people across the county has some gaps, or you are undecided about which local cause – or causes – to support 
  • You’re strongly committed to a cause but unsure about which local organisations are doing the best work on the ground
  • You want to combine your donation with other donors to strengthen your personal impact
  • You want to give regularly and over time from your own charitable fund, but you don’t want the cost and bureaucracy of setting up a trust or foundation
  • You’re interested in joining a community of local donors –  learning from and sharing your philanthropic experiences and journey.

In which case, giving through Oxfordshire Community Foundation may well be the right answer!

Donating through us is an investment in your local charitable sector, where our evidence-based analysis of causes, experienced grant-making processes and robust impact monitoring ensures that local philanthropy is effectively aligned with the broad range of local social needs. 

Donors can give through OCF in three ways: by setting up a ‘named fund’ with us to organise their local giving in one place; through a collective fund where donors pool funds to increase their personal impact; or by contributing to OCF’s series of annual grants rounds, open to organisations across the county.

Through combining donor funds with OCF’s own endowment income, we award between £1–2 million in grants each year to the Oxfordshire charitable sector through grants rounds and direct donations. 

The pandemic response illustrated well the flexibility and responsiveness of grants and donations through OCF; we were able to direct grants swiftly to frontline organisations supporting the most vulnerable people in our society.

Our giving options at OCF are tailored to the needs of donors, their charitable interests, and the extent to which they want to be involved in their philanthropic giving. Underpinning and informing all our grant making is our deep understanding of community priorities and issues, our knowledge of the county’s charitable sector, and our expertise in informing and implementing place-based grant-making through open grants rounds.

I am excited about working with donors who believe that giving through OCF will be the best option for them. I am also happy to be challenged on why you should – or should not – give through us! If you are interested to learn more about the social need in Oxfordshire, or if you want to be involved in enabling local philanthropy to make a difference, please do get in touch with me at or on 07971 997010.