A much-needed boost for the third sector in Wales
The news that £1m of dormant charitable funds in Wales have so far been unlocked through the Revitalising Trusts programme is a great boost to the sector.
This will see the release of much-needed funds into community activity across Wales, most of it through organisations that before now had not been using their charitable resources but have committed to an action plan. Some of the funds will be coming across to Community Foundation Wales for use in specific grant programmes or to be included in our general fund, Fund for Wales.
The Revitalising Trusts programme is a partnership between Welsh Government, the Charity Commission and Community Foundation Wales and follows in the footsteps of a similar, successful programme in England.
In Wales however, the pandemic added a different level of complexity to the programme as charity trustees found their attention diverted to a myriad of differing pressures. The announcement last week by the Charity Commission is a landmark in the development of the project and a real sign that we are heading in the right direction.
The programme works by the Commission analysing its data to identify charities that they define as dormant. These are organisations that have not spent any money in the past five years or have spent less than 30% of their income in the past five years. These markers have been chosen as they are indicative of a dormant charity.
The Commission makes efforts to contact the organisation’s Trustees and asks for reassurance that the charity is drawing up plans for activity. Sometimes this is not possible. Trustees may have passed away and/or the charitable objects may no longer be fit for purpose. There could be any number of reasons why the Trustees need support. In these cases, the Commission will direct the Trustees to Community Foundation Wales for a conversation on how we can help them.
In many cases, we can take the burden away from Trustees, bringing the fund into our care and delivering its original charitable purpose. This was the case with the TD Jones fund, where Trustees were having a tough time running a church fund that was designed to provide books for Sunday school children. With our help the fund is now being used again to benefit the local community.
The good news is that the Charity Commission is working its way through its database to identify more charitable funds that can be brought back to life in this way.
This week, BBC Wales News featured the story of the Sketty Foodbank, an example of the type of organisation that can benefit from the Revitalising Trusts programme. Their story of the rising costs of feeding the most vulnerable in their local community was a stark reminder of why these funds are needed more than ever.
We would urge any Trustee that needs support to come forward and to speak with us about how the Revitalising Trusts programme can help.