Place-Based Projects

A Place-Based Approach – Engaged Philanthropy

The Rank Foundation operates a model of engaged philanthropy, combining intellectual, social and financial capital in order to maximise impact, whilst leveraging additional funding and support:

  • Financial Capital: flexible funding, long term support
  • Intellectual Capital: sharing good practice, bursaries, education & training
  • Social Capital: networking through RankNet and our Fellowship

Reducing inequalities, building community capacity and improving connectivity by promoting leadership at all levels, encouraging enterprise and caring for the marginalised.


Unlock Opportunities



The Rank Foundation’s approach to place-based programmes is not unique but we have a decade’s experience of working with and in local communities, across the statutory, faith and social sectors. Rank’s starting point is not looking at what is wrong with the community, but building on its assets and investing in its potential. We know from experience that the independent funder cannot transform deeply embedded social problems but it has a powerful role as convenor and connector. This in itself has the potential to unlock opportunities for people in local communities to collaborate for a greater benefit to all.

Our experience suggests that by concentrating funding, knowledge and expertise in a very focused way, promoting stronger partnerships and increased collaboration, helps to ‘add value’ where the outcome is greater than the sum of each part. Our recent evaluation of the Hull Community Development Programme endorses this practice, whilst looking to identify the key characteristics of success:

Placed Based Projects in Numbers


Projects in Hull


Projects in Dundee


Delivery Partners

Key characteristics of success

  • Field Experience. The Rank Foudation employ a field executive on the ground who spend time committed to understanding local issues, identifying opportunities and developing programmes based on local need.
  • Reconnaissance. Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted. Office based, reactive practice is less effective, less efficient.
  • Back Good People – Good Organisations. The very essence of our work, identifying and supporting strong leaders.
  • Local Presence. The local ‘co-ordinator’ or Associate role has proved pivotal. Identifying someone with a passion and commitment to the host City, capable of acting as the point of contact for all issues but, most importantly, seeking out new opportunities and developments. A key post.


  • Encourage Connectivity, Develop Relationships. From the local co-ordinator to quarterly steering groups, external speakers, sharing good practice, access to bursaries, charities evening: encouraging and developing stronger partnerships plays a key part.
  • Lessons Learned. A willingness to look at what works, what doesn’t and why? Future evaluation will focus on the methodology, the process that underpins this way of working, and the added value this brings.
  • Culture and Ethos. This place-based approach is not unique, nor is it the only way of doing business. But where other grant makers lack local knowledge or ability to ‘reach out’ in this direct way, The Rank Foundation offer an opportunity for collaborative programmes, as we look to achieve greater social impact.


Hull – A Community Development Programme

Building on our proactive, research driven, place based funding programmes in Burnley, Corby and Blackpool, we spent the best part of 12 months, visiting Hull on reconnaissance, helping to establish a better understanding of local community need and, most importantly, of how we might help. This resulted in the launch of an integrated, community development initiative, funding 21 programmes, with an initial £1.5M investment. This is a partnership programme in conjunction with the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, where we look to share responsibility for the funding, delivery, management and evaluation of the overall programme.

More on Hull


A Place-Based Approach to Dundee.

In June 2015, we funded 21 programmes in the City of Dundee, the start of the £2M investment over three years, built around our strategy of developing leadership, encouraging enterprise whilst caring for the marginalised and the needy.  Following a period of 12 months reconnaissance, we identified a cluster of community focused organisations, big and small, and asked them to join us in what we hope will be a journey of transformation.  Inspired by our experiences in Hull, we found many similarities between the two cities. Irrespective of the social challenges, we found a city with a proud heritage, with a strong track record in enterprise and design, with outstanding universities within the city and close by, and with a significant programme of investment, including the creation of a Scottish V&A, as part of an exciting plan that looks to transform the waterfront.

More on Dundee