Helping charity teams feel valued

Teamwork is a vital component for the success of any business or charity, and recognition for this helps people to feel motivated and valued.

Published in UK Director Magazines Spring 24

Community Spirit:
Essex Community Foundation

Positive feedback and support are especially valuable when given by those who truly understand and appreciate how working together can achieve so much. For nearly three decades, the team at the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF), has been working with and giving financial support to charities and voluntary and community groups in Essex. 

A Growing Team

ECF was set up in 1996 with just one paid member of staff, a chief executive, plus a board of trustees who were all volunteers. Since then, the foundation has grown to be a team of 16, supported by three regular volunteers and 15 trustees.

Having gone from strength to strength, ECF now manages around 180 individually named charitable funds set up by families, companies, public agencies, and other trusts, and gives around £4.5 million in grants each year. Through close contact with grassroots organisations in the community, staff at ECF have a unique insight into the activities of the dedicated teams that work so hard to keep local charities and voluntary groups running.

Recognising Hard Work

In 2008, the team at ECF decided to set up their own charitable fund to give support to other charity teams doing outstanding work in the community. The aim of the fund is to give such groups a chance to do something together to make their staff feel valued and appreciated.

Caroline Taylor, CEO at ECF, said: “It can be especially difficult for local charities and voluntary groups to feel that their work is recognised and valued. Typically, their teams can be small, and many are supported by volunteers. As the nature of their work is to help others, there is often not the budget or the time to think about themselves.

 “We know from our grant-giving just how hard their teams work, and the challenges they deal with every day to support people in need and make a difference in their communities. They often forget to make time to celebrate their achievements.”

Team Fund

“This inspired us, at ECF, to set up our Team Fund. Everyone can contribute an amount they choose and at the end of the year we select one or two organisations to support. They may have had a really tough year, or perhaps their team has gone above and beyond to support their community.

“It is a simple concept, a gift from our team to theirs, with the only instruction being that they need to use it to do something fun. It is such a nice thing to do, and those we have supported so far have said it has given them and their teams such a boost and they have really benefited from spending some relaxed, fun time with each other.”

Christmas Gift for CVS Tendring

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Since the ECF Team Fund was set up, it has given nearly £20,000 in support of other teams in a wide range of organisations across Essex. A recent team to benefit was CVS Tendring (CVST) who received £830.  

Sharon Alexander, CEO at CVST, said: “When we heard we were getting some funding for our team, we were so surprised and grateful.

“We work hard to support our local charities in Tendring and it has been a tough year for us all. To have this recognised, and to be able to do something that we can share as a team, was a great way for us to acknowledge how much we have achieved during the year and just spend some quality time together.

“The grant meant we had a fun filled Christmas at CVST HQ, with lots of prizes and a few games. The support from ECF’s Team Fund gave us such a great boost.”

Working Together

Caroline Taylor said: “Our work at ECF is very inter-connected with so many charities and voluntary organisations, so it is a pleasure to give some recognition to them through our Team Fund.

“We owe a lot of our success at ECF to great teamwork, as we all work together to make sure that the interests and wishes of our donors are matched with the needs of local charities. 

“It is also important that our trustees work as a team, and with our staff, to ensure that we meet all the necessary charity governance requirements and use each other’s skills and expertise to help move the foundation forward.”

Other organisations which have had support from ECF’s Team Fund include:

Stephen’s Place, a charity that helps marginalised or homeless people in Southend-On-Sea. Each year, a team of around 25 volunteers works hard to provide more than 4,000 free hot breakfasts to the people who need it most, as well as offering countless hours of advice, guidance and signposting support. With the help of the ECF Team Fund, they held an American Diner themed evening.

Essex Search and Rescue was established in October 2002 to provide a pool of around 50 trained volunteers to assist the police in searching for high-risk, vulnerable, missing people. The searches are carried out mainly in Essex and their dedicated team can be called out at any time of the day or night, whatever the weather. They used their funding for a well-earned social evening where they could enjoy being together, free of any callouts!

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Thurrock CVS
Thurrock Community and Voluntary Services is a membership organisation that supports, develops and promotes the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector in Thurrock. In 2022, their CEO passed away after a long illness which had a deep impact on the whole team. A donation from the ECF Team Fund enabled them to organise a team event, at the appropriate time, to help them move forward.

Main photo of ECF team taken by Steve Brading

Get in Touch

Essex Community Foundation works with many businesses in Essex, helping them support local communities, engage with their staff and embed a long-term approach into their corporate ethos.

T: 01245 355947
Or visit

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