Give to the Acorn Fund Challenge and help local charities

1st June 2021

A golden opportunity is available to people in Essex, to take part in a match funding challenge aimed at raising a total of £750,000, that will increase the amount of vital support to local community groups and charities.

We have all become increasingly aware of the incredible work charities have been doing throughout the coronavirus pandemic and continuing to support their work is now more important than ever.

This initiative is being put into action by Essex Community Foundation (ECF) to help improve the lives of people in need, particularly those who are struggling during these difficult times.

Called the ‘Acorn Fund Challenge’, ECF is appealing for donations to its Acorn Fund and matching them on a 2 to 1 basis until a total of £750,000 is raised.  This means that for every £2 received, ECF will add £1, and if Gift Aid can be claimed, it nearly doubles the value of donations.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF said: “We are pledging £250,000 for the challenge and are delighted to be offering this matched-funding opportunity which we hope will be taken up by people in Essex.

“The response so far has been wonderful.  Donations and match totalling £47,000 has already been added to our Acorn Fund and this is growing every day, enabling us to respond quickly with financial support to meet local needs highlighted by charities and voluntary organisations. The more we can raise, the greater amount of help we can give by awarding grants to organisations who do such vital work in the community.

“The matched-funding challenge is a great chance for people to support local charities and voluntary groups so we are asking people to share this opportunity as widely as possible through their families, friends and colleagues.”

Anyone can give towards the challenge; individuals can make a one-off donation or contact ECF to set up a regular donation.  Companies and their employees can get involved in raising money in their local teams.  There are also tax incentives associated with gifts to charity so professional advisers may have clients who will want to support this initiative.

It is easy for local charities and voluntary groups to apply for grants from ECF at any time either for specific projects or for their running costs.  All applications are assessed and where possible ECF awards the full amount requested, so that local groups can really make a difference in their community.

Last year, ECF awarded grants totalling £4.8 million to voluntary organisations working across the County.  There is great demand on charities to increase their services and support at this time, but with restrictions enabling limited opportunities to fundraise, they are still desperately seeking funding for their work.

A recent grant of £21,000 awarded from ECF’s Acorn Fund, will enable Harlow based charity, Upwards with Downs, to provide a one-to-one Speech Therapy service to help families with children that have additional needs.

Peggy Slade, from Upwards with Downs said: “Every person with Down Syndrome has some problems with communication due to their learning delay.  If they cannot speak and be understood they can develop feelings of frustration, anger and anxiety.

“We are so grateful for this grant as Speech Therapy is vital to the wellbeing of our clients and knowing that we can provide this support over the next three years will take away a lot of worry.”

The Art Ministry, based in Castle Point, also received support with a grant of £7,000 to help them to continue delivering arts and crafts sessions that bring out people’s creativity in a supportive environment.

Allan Webb is a Trustee at The Art Ministry.  He said: “We work with a wide range of people who need help to boost self-esteem, increase their self-confidence, build social skills and improve wellbeing.  These include children with learning difficulties, young carers, and adults with visual impairments, physical difficulties, learning difficulties, early onset dementia, mental health problems and drug and alcohol issues.

“This funding will be a great help to us.  Our clients all have different needs, but we aim to bring some colour, creativity and fun into their lives which can be enjoyed in a supportive and safe environment whilst in the company of others.”


It is easy to give to ECF’s matched-funding challenge:

  • Give online now
  • To give by card over the phone call us on 01245 355947
  • Send a cheque to Essex Community Foundation at 121 New London Road, Chelmsford CM2 0QT
  • Call us on 01245 355947 to make a payment by bank transfer or to set up a regular donation
  • Speak to us if you want to make a donation by bank transfer or to set up a regular gift
  • For more information email

You can read about other supported charities here.