Revamped Aviva Community Fund to award £1m to small 'forward-thinking' charities

22 Jan 2020 News

The Aviva Community Fund has opened for applications and announced a series of changes in its structure, which includes that Aviva employees now have the final say on which charities get funding. 

The fund will be awarding £250,000 per quarter to a range of small charity projects, with a total of £1m over the year. This is less than last year, when the grants amounted to over £1.8m in total. Aviva said that this is “part of our commitment to lower our annual costs as a business”.

Projects will have to include an element of novelty, be it the use of a new technology, a new approach or a new focus for the charities presenting them. 

Changes to the Aviva Community Fund

The Aviva Community Fund was set up by the insurance company in 2010 with the aim of supporting small and local charities. 

This year, Aviva is introducing a series of changes to how the fund works. Applications will be accepted quarterly instead of annually and will not have to fit into pre-established categories or grant amounts.

Charities can aim to raise any sum up to £50,000 for projects relating to one of two core funding areas: “community resilience” and “financial capability and inclusion”. The focus is on “forward-thinking charities” which are fundraising for projects that “develop a new approach, product or technology, pilot a new scheme, implement a new initiative, or expand existing services to a new area”. Charities with up to £1m annual income can apply.

The Aviva Community Fund is also partnering with platform Crowdfunder to allow projects to raise funds from the general public in order to reach their target amount.

The 16,000 Aviva employees will ultimately be awarding the funds. Each of them will have £60 in their “Employee Wallet” and will be able to donate it to their projects of choice. Last year, winning projects were voted by the general public.

If a project reaches the target amount by the end of the quarter, thanks to donations from both Aviva employees and the general public, the charity can withdraw the funds. Otherwise, the project gets rolled over to the next quarter.

Explaining the changes, Aviva said the previous categories were “complex” and that the voting system required charities to work “really hard” without any guarantee of funding success. 

“We feel that moving to a crowdfunding model, where we empower our employees to distribute the funding, is fairer”.

Give small charities the opportunity 'to test new ideas'

Jude Brooks, UK head of corporate social responsibility at Aviva, said: “We believe the small charities that make the most impact are the ones given the opportunity to innovate and test new ideas. 

“That is why with our Aviva Community Fund programme, we are focusing not only on facilitating funding for small charities with genuinely forward-thinking ideas, but also sharing knowledge from Aviva’s people and building the capabilities of causes through training and coaching. Our ambition is to enable causes to become self-sustaining over the long term.”

Participating charities can also access Aviva’s knowledge library and coaching and volunteering from Aviva employees, who receive 21 hours of paid leave to volunteer with charities.

The new approach was tested before the roll-out. Nantwich-based charity Inner Trust took part in the trial and raised more than £7,700 for a new project involving music workshops with Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. 

Spencer Hickson from the Inner Trust said the Aviva Community Fund “has already made a massive difference”.

He said: “Instead of simply receiving a one-off grant, we’ve been able to generate sustainable funding and an ongoing relationship with the Aviva employees and new supporters. Plus, we had a lot of guidance along the way and we’ve learnt a range of new skills and expertise.”

Applications for the Aviva Community Fund 2020 are open until 12 February.

Civil Society Media’s Fundraising Live conference takes place on 6 February 2020, providing an excellent platform for the fundraising community to come together, share ideas and experiences, and learn from the successes and failures of fellow professionals. View the programme and book online here.


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