CNSF 2020 AGM REPORT Published on 11th January 2021

The CNSFund 2020 AGM Report can be downloaded from the following link:

CNSFund 2020 AGM Report

Chairperson's Report

I am pleased to present my report for 2020 which is the
ninth year of the Fund’s operation. Since the last AGM,
the Fund has held four assessment meetings and has
assessed 24 applications, awarding a total of £353,303 to
20 deserving community projects. Compared to the
previous year for the same period, this shows an increase
in the level of applications and grant money committed.
This year has seen the highest level of annual investment
by the Fund for many years and is testament to the hard
work of people who are determined to deliver
improvements for their communities. When ‘leverage’
funding is taken into account – because most projects
rely on more than one funder – the total value of projects
enabled by the Fund this year is £1.3Million. Since its first
year of operation in 2012, the Fund has awarded
£2,540,303 to projects which make Caithness and North
Sutherland a better place to live, work and invest.

The level of enquiries has remained relatively consistent
compared to the previous year, which is encouraging to
see given the pandemic. However, the pandemic has had
an impact on the implementation of most of the projects
that have been awarded grants this year, with the
delivery of some being delayed while others, particularly
events, have been rescheduled to take place in the
following year. We are continuing to work with groups
on revising their project schedules.

This year, the Fund received an additional £9,000 after
the NDA put in place an annual uplift to the Fund to cover
inflation. The annual uplift is calculated using the retail
price index and will be updated annually until the NDA’s
funding commitment to the programme ends. This is a
welcome boost to the funds available to benefit our

In addition to the quarterly assessment meetings, the
Board also held its annual review meeting in February
2020 and found that the Fund’s application process,
evaluation criteria and level of applications coming
forward were evidenced to be working well in order to
meet the objectives of the Fund. Recorded feedback
from applicants was also reviewed and this feedback
continues to be extremely positive. The Fund’s audit
findings continue to be consistently good, which gives
assurance that the Fund is being well run.

The Fund carried out an open recruitment process for
candidates to fill the Board vacancy as a result of Jim
MacGregor’s scheduled retirement. Jim has completed
two consecutive terms of office and served as Chair and
Vice-Chair during his time as a director. The directors are
gratified by the interest shown in the vacancy on the
Board and the outcome is that Fiona Forbes is
nominated for election as an appointed director at this
year’s AGM. I wish to record my thanks to Jim
MacGregor for his valuable contribution to the work of
the Fund over the years.

I also thank the Fund’s NDA Observer Anna MacConnell
who stepped down from the NDA in December. Anna
was involved in the formative stages of the Fund and her
guidance and support throughout the programme has
been invaluable. We welcome David Wallace as the
Fund’s new NDA Observer.
Our Board of Directors works well and I would like to
thank my fellow Directors for their support during the
year. Because of the pandemic they have had to put in
place alternative arrangements in order to ensure that
the Fund has been able to continue with its grant
assessment schedule.

I also thank Mary-Jane Statham and DSRL for providing
use of DSRL’s conference call provision to allow us to
continue to conduct our meetings while social
restrictions are in place.

It is through the efforts of our staff that the Fund has
been able to operate effectively during this difficult
year. Owing to the pandemic our office has been closed.
David Shearer, Fund Coordinator, and Paula Davidson,
Grants Administrative Assistant, have worked from
home and I thank them for their flexibility and the
considerable efforts they have willingly made.

Local community groups have shown great resilience
during the current pandemic. Developing sound project
proposals is a demanding task in the best of times and
the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made
the process more difficult in many ways. It is important
to acknowledge the efforts of community volunteers
who have had their projects postponed and have had to
undertake extra work to reschedule or make alternative
arrangements as a result of the pandemic.

In these difficult times the need for investment in our
communities has never been greater. For this reason, I
would like to conclude by strongly encouraging
community groups to come forward with proposals
which meet the objectives of the Fund. Finally, I would
also like to remind communities that a successful
application to CNSF demonstrates that the proposal has
been scrutinised and approved at a local level and this
fact can help unlock grant aid from other funders.

David Glass – Chair.