Dear Friends and Partners,

As we move into winter, it’s the perfect time to take stock of our impact across the Midlands. Guided by our vision for a fairer, happier, and healthier community, and propelled by our mission to connect donors with impactful initiatives, I want to share some updates from across our grant making efforts in the first two quarters of this year.

Hot on the heels of the recent announcements of the brand new £9 million Inclusive Communities Fund and the £1 million investment through the Community Environment Fund, we have been looking at some of our recent grant making since April. Here are the headlines from the first half of the year:

In combining the figures for Q1 and Q2, it’s clear to see the demand for our support continues to rise and we hope that we’re playing a crucial role in addressing the needs of local communities

  • We received 690 new applications so far this year: A testament of our reach across the region in supporting local groups and projects responding to the needs of their local communities.
  • Over £7.7 million in new application funding requests: A substantial influx, driven in large part by the large funding programmes: Know Your Neighbourhood Fund & Birmingham Information, Advice and Guidance Fund. Over the last twelve months we have seen a substantial increase in funding requests which totalled over £10.3m since October last year.
  • We were able to make 282 awards worth £1.9m: Through our grant making this year we have been able to support transformative projects in every part of our region – supporting local people and communities to thrive, with a total value of £1.9 million of grants.
  • Our overall success rate for applicants stands at 41%: in an ideal world, the success rate would be much higher but again, demonstrates the needs of our sector in these challenging times.  The work of our community and donor panels means often difficult decisions have to be made to ensure support for the most meaningful and impactful projects. 
  • £7,041 average grant size: Our average grant size changes over the course of the year, but we have seen sustained increases as we continue to manage larger programmes with larger amounts of funding per grant.
  • Record Breaking Digital Engagement: We received over 35,000 interactions with our latest news and announcements across digital and social in the last few months – including over 11,000 views of the Inclusive Communities Fund in the first two weeks since we launched!

Here is a summary breakdown of our grant making across the region:

  • Birmingham: 144 awards, £621,070.79
  • Black Country: 83 awards, £376,720.00
  • Coventry: 56 awards, £229,072.11
  • Solihull: 20 awards, £101,135.51
  • Warwickshire: 35 awards, £190,178.04
  • Other (including Harry Payne, Donor Directed, and Wesleyan National applications): 30 awards, £70,199.00.

Navigating Peaks: Insights from Q1 and Q2

As we transitioned through the second quarter, the momentum of our grant making sustained, and we have been able to focus on developing our relationships with donors and partners:

  • Developmental Initiatives: Ongoing projects with Birmingham City Council, DCMS Know Your Neighbourhood Fund, and Solihull MBC.
  • Strategic Adjustments: Adapting to changes working with the Wesleyan Foundation and new work with the Greggs Foundation.
  • Collaborative Endeavours: Partnerships with Cheshire & London CFs on innovative programmes.

Looking Forward: Building a Midlands Where Everyone Thrives

Over the next few months, moving into the new year with renewed hope, optimism and excitement at what’s to come into 2024 and beyond, we are working hard to deliver new programmes and opportunities for communities. Our general grant making continues at a pace, alongside the delivery of the Inclusive Communities Fund – a one off opportunity for communities to truly benefit from the legacy of the Commonwealth Games. 

We are also working on an ambitious new strategy which will take us through to March 2030 and we are preparing for a major celebration of incredible Women across our region, to coincide with International Women’s Day in 2024. 

I hope that you will join us in celebrating this first half of the year, and please do reach out and connect with me and my team if you have a project proposal or would like to discuss starting a fund with us. 

Tina Costello, Chief Executive, Heart of England Community Foundation