Our story

Quartet is the community foundation for the West of England.

We are part of a national network of 47 Community Foundations across the UK matching people who want to give money locally with organisations and charities working to help local communities on the ground.

A global movement for local change

The Community Foundation movement started in the US in 1914 and has spread all over the world. It’s now a global movement of grassroots community philanthropy, operating in over 1,800 communities worldwide. Each Foundation strives to tackle the inequality and hardship in its neighbourhoods, and shares the same simple concept of ‘local giving for local need.’

Addressing the root cause of problems in communities with financial support via a permanent endowment-based funding model means that Community Foundations specialise in seeding change at grassroots level, and supporting this for the long term. We invest donations and use the resulting income to award grants to local charitable and voluntary groups year on year. In this way donations continue to make an impact locally, forever.

A pioneering grant-making institution for our region

Quartet’s story began in 1986. The Greater Bristol Trust was one of the first Community Foundations in the UK, a pioneering grant-making institution for our area, helping local donors to make a long-term difference for communities on their doorstep.

Penny Johnstone was our first director. Her courage, empathy, determination and charm sets the standard on which Quartet’s work is based.

The first grants we awarded were to ACTA and Home-Start. Both organisations are still going strong and are still funded by Quartet today.

A lasting difference for communities

Since the early days, our small grants have been a catalyst to bringing millions of pounds of new investment into the region. 

Long-term support for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston

One area of focus is Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston, where Quartet has built relationships with key community organisations over decades and awarded grants worth over £1m.

In 2013 we made a grant for Lawrence Weston to develop its first community plan, engaging residents in deciding what they wanted for their community’s future. This has provided a blueprint for local action that we have supported steadily over the years . As a result, Lawrence Weston has developed valuable community assets, including a community energy project which will generate sustainable income to support their local community organisations.

Projects like these – ones that bring the community together, support people to be confident and ambitious for themselves and where they live – are the hallmark of Quartet’s approach.

We believe in giving a hand up, not a handout. Matching people and ideas with the resources needed to make a lasting difference.

Responding to pressing local needs

The strength of our network of local community leaders and projects meant that when COVID hit in March 2020, we were able to respond quickly and effectively.

A record £5.2 million was awarded in grants between April 2020 and March 2021. A total of 930 projects received our grant funding to help local communities, supporting over 590,000 people in the region. We generated our highest ever donations and voluntary income in 2021 – £16.7 million – and ensured the money worked to support the people that need it most.

Read Quartet’s Covid Impact Report

Quartet’s permanent Endowment Fund now stands at some £60 million, making it one of the largest of any community foundation in the UK.  We are currently working with over 300 fundholders, and last year made around 900 grants in support of local community groups and charities.

And there’s so much more to achieve

“We want to see positive long-term change for our region. Our aim is to make a profound difference to people’s lives, now and far into the future. A West of England with strong, inclusive communities and the resources to meet local needs and goals. A fairer, greener West of England, a place in which everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential, a place for all to thrive.”

Suzanne Rolt, CEO, Quartet

2022

Permanent endowment reaches c£60m. Quartet Community Foundation now one of the largest foundations in the UK.

2020

Quartet responds rapidly to the Covid crisis: 90 vital local groups received grant funding, supporting over 590,000 people. Highest ever donations and voluntary income received.

2016

First Vital Signs report published to guide philanthropic giving.

2012

Celebrating 25th anniversary. Rebranded.

2011

Grassroots Endowment challenge met in full, drawing down £1m from government and creating new endowment worth £3m to support small grassroots organisations for generations to come.

2009

Quartet holds its first Philanthropy Lecture given by Dame Stephanie Shirley.

2008

Quartet wins the bid to mange the Grassroots Endowment Challenge, a contract to distribute £1.3m in public sector grants to very small grassroots organisations.

2007

We celebrated our 20th anniversary. £15m in grants distributed since 1987. Value of endowment reaches £10m.

2006

Quartet opens the Badger Centre in Weston super Mare, a resource centre offering support to individuals and voluntary groups from across North Somerset.

2005

Name changes to Quartet Community Foundation to represent the foundation’s work across the region. £10m in grants distributed since 1986.

2003

Complete Acorn Challenge with £1.5m raised in total. £5m in grants distributed since 1986. Bath & North East Somerset Fund set up with separate Committee. Ambassadors set up as ‘Friends of Foundation’.

2002

Greater Bristol Foundation celebrates having distributed £4m in grants since 1986. £1m in grants distributed for the first time in a single year.

2001

Acorn Challenge launched to raise £1m with 50% match-funding.

2000

Greater Bristol Foundation celebrates the distribution of £2m in grants distributed since 1986.

1999

Value of endowment reaches £5m. Purchase and refurbishment of Royal Oak House.

1997

Greater Bristol Foundation wins ‘Build a Better Bristol’ award.

1996

Mott Challenge raises £2m for endowment
£1m in grants distributed since 1986.

1994

Renamed The Greater Bristol Foundation.

1991

The Trust was chosen to take on the Mott Challenge.

1988

First named fund  ‘The Harry Crook Foundation’.

1986

Greater Bristol Trust founded. First grants awarded to ACTA and Home-Start, both are still going strong today.

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