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Our Catalysts create change

Rosanna Machado, trustee
Rosanna Machado, trustee

A key purpose of The London Community Foundation is to increase the amount of giving in London for London. But we can only do that with the support of our Catalysts – those who give to our Catalyst Fund, where donations fund our efforts to raise more money for communities throughout London.

However, we recognise that not many people or organisations look kindly on supporting a charity’s development or fundraising costs, with preference for support typically being more project based. But in an era of declining funds and growing needs, giving to a charity’s core costs can be one of the most strategic investments someone can make.

We spoke with one of The London Community Foundation’s trustees, Rosanna Machado, who since joining the Board in 2014, has generously donated to our Catalyst Fund. 

1.) Why did you choose to support the London Community Foundation's Catalyst Fund?

I became a trustee of The London Community Foundation in December 2014 and I wanted to look at how I could help the charity further, so I decided to support their Catalyst Fund. I'm particularly passionate about the work that The London Community Foundation does as I am a born and bred Londoner, so it's great to be doing something for my local area!

Most of us who donate to a charity are moved by its cause and I think the feeling that you are directly influencing a project is often what motivates us to give money. Indeed, a big selling point of The London Community Foundation is that donors can tailor the funds to particular causes. I think that’s great,  but what it does mean for a lot of charities is that donors are less inclined to give money to core costs as it's not as emotive as giving to a particular project. I know that I felt the same way and always wanted to make sure my money was going directly to the cause that I wanted to support. 

However, in my role as a trustee, I've had the opportunity to dig deeper and think about how the charity operates and how vital the core costs are - none of the projects would happen without a core team and infrastructure. Whilst this is a harder sell to donors, it is absolutely crucial to The London Community Foundation and is something that shouldn't be overlooked.

I started to think about my professional life too and how different things are in the private sector. In my last job, I was Chief Operating Officer of a communications agency and my role was all about operating more efficiently and often this required investment in people or infrastructure to ultimately improve how we operated. I think charities have a hard time justifying every penny that isn't spent directly on projects but we need to appreciate that they too need to invest in core costs to ultimately run more efficiently and raise more money. Of course, this spending still needs to be considered and managed carefully and good governance will ensure this happens but we must appreciate that these costs do exist and if we can make a contribution towards them then this will help the charity to really thrive.

So with my logical hat on, I decided to donate to the Catalyst Fund and when I thought about it further, I realised the power of how far that money could go. In fact, ultimately more projects would benefit than if I'd give to one specific project.

2.) What would you say to others contemplating giving to a charity's development / core costs?

It may not sound as sexy to give to the Catalyst Fund but do think about the bigger picture. Last year, The London Community Foundation gave out £5.2m in more than 1000 grants. That is a phenomenal achievement! But think about how much more could be achieved by investing a little more in the core costs. In fact, for every £1 that is given to the Catalyst Fund, The London Community Foundation is able to generate £32.

As someone that runs teams and companies, I have always wanted charities to be as efficient as possible, even though they are not motivated by profit. Let's give them a fighting chance of achieving this by considering donating to the core costs of the charity. With these costs, the charity will be able to operate more efficiently, ensure the right team is in place which will result in more money being raised and more people being helped by The London Community Foundation.

Click here to donate to The London Community Foundation’s Catalyst Fund.

Published on 04 April 2016

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