SUSSEX COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ACHIEVES QUALITY ACCREDITATION
Uniquely amongst grant giving charities, every three years Community Foundations across the country, including Sussex, each undergo an independent quality assurance assessment arranged (and funded) by UKCF. I am delighted to report that we have successfully completed the latest assessment.
The process has been rigorous. No fewer than 14 core standards, under five different headings, have been covered. Preparation for the assessment involved a significant amount of work for Kevin Richmond and our staff, all at a time when they were working flat out on the Crisis Fund. There was also not a little work for your Chair, who had to prepare for and undergo a lengthy and thorough cross examination!
We now have the results and I am pleased to say that we have passed with “flying colours”. The approach of Sussex Community Foundation has been held up to be “exemplary” which means that there is “evidence of exceptional practice that can be viewed as sector leading/innovative” in the following areas:
- our thorough approach to assessing the implications of adopting the Funders’ Commitment on Climate Change
- our financial strategy, and in addressing the sustainability of our organisation
- our development of grants for environmental issues
- our work on the development and programming of a strategic plan up to 2025, including objectives and priority actions for five key areas.
- our approach to philanthropy and donor management and how we are developing the Foundation as a Centre of Excellence in Philanthropy, specifically endorsing our approach to webinars, our consultation work with BAME communities, and the vision in our management model
- our easy access website for the third edition of Sussex Uncovered, with its regular updating. Elsewhere in the report this is described as “a significant achievement”
In each of these areas we are of course delighted to be considered exemplars. We are delighted that the assessors found every other aspect our work to be “good”, which is, well, good, indeed great! Having said that, the assessors don’t allow us room for complacency. They have also made a number of practical recommendations, all of them sensible, but many of which, as the assessors acknowledge, were already well in hand.
Kevin and the team deserve to be hugely encouraged by the final outcome and its recommendations. These will inform the work that they continue to do over the next three years, when they have to go through the process again.
The fifth round of Quality Accreditation, launched in October 2020, is now complete. Over the past year the Sussex Community Foundation had an internal audit of its policies and procedures, compiled a submission of documents for external review and participated in interviews with an independent assessor.
The assessment, which was carried out by Ideas to Impact, evaluated the ongoing practices and development trajectory of Sussex Community Foundation within Core Standards on governance, finance, philanthropy, grant-making, community participation and organisational development.
This programme is unique to the UK Community Foundations (UKCF) network, providing the only accreditation process internationally that is tailored to and designed by community foundations.
The Quality Accreditation assessment has revealed that:
- The value of grant-making in the UKCF network more than doubled during the Covid-19 Pandemic
- Total community foundation endowment across the membership has grown by 30% since QA4 in 2017
- The highest average score QA5 was in the Core Standard on effective emergency response, reflecting the exceptional skill community foundations displayed in rapidly activating local philanthropy and delivering funding to support community-led responses to crisis
“Being now in the fifth round of Quality Accreditation, we have seen community foundations throughout the UK raise their game and clearly demonstrate a high standard of governance, administration and financial diligence through external assessment across all ranges of team size and capacity” – John Gordon, Chair of the QA Committee
“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.” – Rosemary Macdonald, CEO of UKCF
“The team of assessors has been impressed by the creativity and tenacity of community foundations and their nuanced understanding of the needs of their communities and the commitment to their local areas. This understanding and the ongoing relationships that foundations are able to build means that there is a reach into local communities that helps individual and organisations from all sectors to work together in the places that it’s really needed.” – Becky Nixon, Director of Ideas to Impact
Sussex Community Foundation’s Quality Accreditation will last for three years until October 2024 and is an initiative designed to provide collective due diligence that confirms community foundations have the capacity to deliver grants and programmes on a national level. It promotes excellent practice across the community foundation network to ensure that they can utilise their resources most effectively to listen, support and advocate for their communities.