On Wednesday 22nd March the Master was delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal along with more than 100 guests to the Hall for the launch of our new community grants scheme. In welcoming the scheme the Princess Royal spoke about the important contribution which organisations such as the Royal Company can make to their community, not only through the direct financial assistance which comes from schemes such as this, but also through the work of our members in helping less fortunate members of society. The Princess Royal also took the time to speak individually with the representatives of more that 60 local charities, as well as several members of the Company.
This latest charitable initiative from the Company stemmed from our strategic review, which highlighted the view of many members that we could and should increase our charitable contribution to the community. The specific idea for a Community Grants Scheme arose partly from a project which we supported through one of our Sundry Trusts and the Master shared that example with the audience, as it illustrates how such a scheme can make a valuable contribution. In 2021 our Charities Committee received an approach from a Secondary School teacher in Edinburgh. Her school had developed a new special needs classroom but it was lying unused as there was no budget for equipment. They needed £1,500 to complete the project and we provided it. It allowed the classroom to be put into use immediately and it has been a real game changer for pupils and staff alike.
A relatively small grant from our charity made a huge difference to that one project. That is what the new scheme can replicate in numerous instances across the city. But its not just about the money, it is about making the connections, the connections between the needs and the solutions. It is what the Merchant Company has been doing throughout its long history.
To fund the community grants scheme, the Merchant Company Endowments Trust has set aside an initial fund of £50,000 per annum, plus an allowance for administration costs. The aim is to distribute grants of between £2,000 and £5,000 to small Edinburgh based charities and other organised groups who wish to undertake projects which fit in with our aims.
It is intended to have two rounds of applications each year, with roughly £25,000 awarded at each round, although, given the timing, there will only be one round of applications and grants before the end of this calendar year. We are engaging the help of a not-for-profit community foundation to undertake administration and due diligence, and details of that arrangement will be announced shortly. Following that, we will set out a timetable and process for applications to be made for the first round of grants.
The presence of The Princess Royal, together with more than 60 charities from across Edinburgh, ensured that the new scheme has hit the ground running, and significant interest has already been from a wide variety of worthy projects and initiatives.