ON May 22, a reception will take place at one of Yorkshire's greatest stately homes.

It's a gathering of the great and the good which organisers hope will kick start a new era of philanthropy to rival the great Victorian philanthropists of the past.

The guests will be hosted by the Hon Simon Howard of Castle Howard, in support of the Two Ridings Community Foundation. It is hoped they will help the little known grant giving organisation as it tries to plug the funding gaps caused by austerity measures with modern philanthropy.

Community Foundations like Two Ridings began in the USA more than 100 years ago, and in the UK have grown up to include 48 organisations which give out small grants to local charities. The funds come from various sources, including local authorities and big charities like Comic Relief and the People’s Health Trust.

But with ever tightening belts at local authorities, Two Ridings has seen its funding from public bodies falling, and is seeing it ability to meet all the needs fall with it.

Vice chairman of the trustees, Maureen Macleod, said: “If we have a grant programme of £20,000, we will get double that in applications for the programme. In the early days there was sufficient funding available to cover the need we saw. Now, we only get a minimal amount of funding, but the need is still out there.”

The foundation serves the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, as well as York and Hull, and in its 13 year history has given out almost £5.5 million in grants, including £1.3 million in the York area.

Most of its grants are small sums helping out community groups, like the £403 that helped Poppleton Road Memorial Hall buy new chairs, and the £800 that went to the Jack Raine Community Foundation to fund exercise and lifestyle classes for young adults.

Where the foundation used to rely on government funds and council grant programmes, it is now looking for local philanthropy - either individuals or businesses with a Corporate Social Responsibility target, to step into the breach, Maureen added.

Two Ridings is hoping to emulate the success of neighbouring Leeds Community Foundation, which received an anonymous donation of £10 million , which it later emerged came from Hesco Bastion millionaire Jimi Hesleden, who went on the donate a further £13 million.

“We think our version of Jimi Hesleden is out there, we are just waiting for them to come forward,” Maureen added.