INDEPENDENT assessors have praised the way Dorset Community Foundation looks after donors and carries out its grant-making as part of a tri-annual audit.
The assessors, from analyst Ideas to Impact, have spent the last year auditing each of the UK’s 47 community foundations by interviewing staff, examining documents and looking at the way they work to measure their progress and plan for their development.
In each of 14 core standards, covering areas including strategy, governance, financial and information management, philanthropy services, donor management and grant-making, community participation and organisational and network development, Dorset Community Foundation was judged to demonstrate either good or excellent practice.
The auditors said the foundation’s strategic plan gave it ‘clear definition of purpose’ and praised its trustee recruitment programme, as well as noting ‘there are strong working relationships between staff and trustees especially the grants and impact committee supporting the grants and impact manager, and around safeguarding with a trustee identified as safeguarding lead’.
They also praised the foundation’s clear philanthropy messaging on its website and in leaflets, and the increase in its profile that has brought partnerships with bodies including NHS Charities Together.
Auditors also noted the foundation is ‘developing relationships with donors who want to be involved in different ways’ such as artist Stuart Semple’s Designs for Humanity fund.
It is very reassuring the trust in our knowledge and experience that we have built with our donors and partners is reflected in this report
The assessors praised the foundation’s ‘attractively produced, engaging and informative’ impact reports and its ‘clear and helpful’ Funds into Funding Programmes paper for trustees and donors.
They added: “Analysis of groups supported shows that DCF provides support to a range of marginalised groups – those supporting mental health, learning difficulties and disabilities, people in temporary accommodation, homeless, victims of abuse, older people, as well as local estate-based projects, and BAME led groups.”
The inclusion of people with lived experience on grant panels, including a young person who was a beneficiary of one of the foundation’s bursaries, a carer and an older person, was praised by the auditors. They also noted ‘analysis of COVID grant-making showed that DCF did well in terms of percentages of people from BAME backgrounds supported relative to population percentages’.
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the hard work of our staff and trustees has been recognised in this way.
“Our mission is to use effective grant-making to build thriving communities and foster a culture of giving, connecting people, information and money to support areas of need in Dorset and this report tells is that we are on the right path to achieving that.
“It is very reassuring the trust in our knowledge and experience that we have built with our donors and partners is reflected in this report and we’ll use it to underpin our planning and development between now and the next audit in 2024.”
Rosemary Macdonald, chief executive of the UK Community Foundations, said: “It is a mark of the commitment and diligence of our members that they have completed this rigorous accreditation process at the same time as distributing record-breaking levels of funding to their communities. The UKCF team is proud to support a network which reaches every part of the UK and whose good practice has been so clearly demonstrated throughout this process.”