The history of the Foundation can be traced to the early 1800s when the savings bank movement began. This movement was instigated by the Reverend Henry Duncan in 1810 at a time when not everyone had access to banking institutions. Rev. Duncan desired that poorer people should also have the opportunity to save for times of ill health, unemployment and old age. Rather than being a general business, savings banks were established to facilitate charitable support for communities. This movement greatly influenced the creation of the Foundation, which launched in 1986.
The Foundation has undergone significant changes over the course of its existence. In its early days, and due in part to limited staff numbers, grant applications would be sought and managed by local staff, relying on their knowledge of the region to help inform decisions and ensure funding went to areas of the greatest need. In 1992 all three Foundations also began providing a Matched Giving Scheme to support members of staff to get involved in the voluntary sector.
Having weathered a financial downturn in the 1990s the great challenge was to maintain a consistent grant making portfolio. In 1995 the merger with TSB and the Lloyds Banking Group secured and steadied the available funding for charitable investment, and increased the number of staff available for this work. With a greater public profile and as an influential contributor in the sector, the number of grants awarded increased from 980 in 1995 to 3,000 in 1998.
By 2005 the Foundation had a greater public profile and used this to develop its national profile, making it one of the UK’s top 20 independent funders.
While change has been frequent, including team size, Trustees and grant making strategies, the Foundation has always viewed change as an opportunity to adapt and ensure programme delivery is the first priority and done to the highest standard.