Collective Philanthropy


Historic Exeter Fire Appeal

Collective philanthropy provides donors with the opportunity to pool their resources under a common cause, theme or geographic area.

At the end of October 2016 a devastating fire destroyed the oldest hotel in the UK: the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. The largest fire seen in Exeter since the Second World War, it shocked and saddened local residents who began looking for a way to help support staff employed by affected businesses as well as the recovery and restoration of the historic area.

Exeter City Council and Exeter CVS knew they needed an organisation that could put a safe pair of hands around the local community’s generosity, and knowing Devon Community Foundation’s successful track record to emergency response after the 2014 Winter Floods, were quick to ask for DCF’s involvement.

The Foundation set up the Historic Exeter Fire Appeal immediately and were inundated with donations within a couple of hours. The fund, which raised over £25,000 in total, has already helped individuals and small businesses to the tune of around £22,000 thanks to support from Exeter CAB.

The Foundation consulted with the public and those who donated to decide what to do with the remaining funds. The overwhelming response was to fund a cultural tribute representing the historical significance of buildings involved, which will be progressed by the Foundation.

Inspired by local events, local sculptor Martin Staniforth, known as ‘Morth’, took over a tonne of burnt wood, salvaged from the Cathedral Green fire, to create the sculpture ‘Hope & Renewal #1’ as a metaphor for the bursting energy of the city.

“It’s been a real honour to work with burnt timbers, some of which are 500 years old, and to give new life to materials that would have been thrown away. I have contrasting feelings about this ‘Hope & Renewal’ project: sadness at the loss of a historic building, that survived World War 2 bombing, yet also great excitement to create something for the future.” Morth, Hope & Renewal Project

The ‘Hope & Renewal’ project began with a co-creation wellbeing workshop. This was facilitated at CoLab with local charities that resonated with the ‘Hope & Renewal’ theme: Stop Abuse For Everyone (against domestic violence) and Headway Devon (supporting those with brain injuries). These integrated activities were supported by a generous grant from the Devon Community Foundation Community Grants Fund which supports a variety of community projects across the county. 

“It’s been wonderful to help bring this community-inspired project to life in a way that clearly connects with so many people.” Scott Walker, Devon Community Foundation


One of the beneficiaries of the Historic Exeter Fire Appeal worked at the Royal Clarence. Losing her job, just as her husband was made redundant from his, hit the family hard. Although she was applying for jobs and in the process of claiming benefits, with an eight year old daughter and no money coming in at such short notice, the family desperately needed money to pay their rent. The Historic Exeter Fire Appeal awarded £1,700, a month’s salary, to help cover her rent and usual expenses until her husband’s new job started and she was able to find employment.

“The appeal award came at a time when my husband and I had been made redundant on the same day. With a family to support we rapidly became two months behind on our rent and car payments, leaving us in real danger of losing our home and car. This appeal has meant that we have been able to keep a roof over our head and our daughter safe and secure. We are so unbelievably grateful for the assistance. This appeal saved us, our home and kept our family together and the relief when the award was granted is immeasurable. You have given us an incredible gift, thank you.”