Staff and trustees from Sussex Community Foundation attended the UKCF Conference in Manchester last week, which brought together nearly 400 people from over 40 community foundations across the UK and worldwide. The conference focused on how we can act now to shape a better tomorrow for our communities.
The three-day event was a chance to take some time out from the day-to-day running of grants rounds and philanthropic engagement to reflect on the big issues that will affect our communities in the coming decades. We were joined by a line-up of inspirational speakers who delved into the core of the community foundation model. We discussed how the national and international community foundation network should respond to ongoing crises and adopt a proactive mindset to equip us and the people in our local communities to face these challenges.
Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, opened the event with an endorsement of the place-based pride community foundations promote, reinforcing our trust in communities to build bottom-up solutions to challenging issues. Collaboration not competition should prevail – the ethos of which could be seen as people doing similar work across the network were able to share best practice and successful approaches.
On Day One we also heard from community foundation leaders, investors, and innovation leaders on the issues facing our communities today and explored different approaches that have either already been taken or could be in acted on in the future.
“There is nothing more important. Everything is connected by climate. The grass roots is where we’ll see real change.” – Sophie Marple, Gower Street
On Day Two, we were joined by sector leaders, international experts, researchers, and advisors on alternative philanthropy practices, the future of funding, collaboration, engaged grant making, the Sustainable Development Goals, and putting wealth into communities’ hands.
“The global community foundation initiative has a collective imagination that could equip communities to build their own ‘scaffolding of hope’.” – Cassie Robinson, working with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, EarthPercent, Partners for a New Economy, Power to Change
Helen Barnard, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, emphasised that we should accustom ourselves to working in what feels like “perma-crisis” – such as the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, and political and economic instability. These lead to insecurity for the most vulnerable in society and deepened existing poverty. It can also take our attention away from action on bigger, longer-term issues such as climate change. It was argued that civil society has a responsibility to remain calm and strategic, looking beyond immediate crises as well as being agile and responsive.
Day three saw deep insights into what future leadership should look like and a practical workshop where important topics were transformed into realistic actions that could be taken away after the conference to achieve change for tomorrow.
Thank you to our membership body UK Community Foundations for organising the conference, and to their sponsors CCLA, Rathbones and Eden Tree for making it possible.