More than 50 ACF members have tested the strength of their foundations

8 July 2021

More than 50 charitable foundations from across the UK have demonstrated their commitment to ambitious practice by completing ACF’s Stronger Foundations self-assessment tool, just six months since the tool was launched.

Measuring the strength  of your own foundations A  new report published today finds that foundations in the UK are most confident when it comes to funding practices and achieving impact, but feel they have further to travel on aspects of diversity and investment. The findings are drawn from data gathered by ACF’s Stronger Foundations self-assessment tool, which was launched in December 2020 to help foundations benchmark themselves against some or all of the initiative’s 40 ‘pillars of practice’.

The foundations that have used the tool so far completed more than 70 surveys across six themes, including diversity, investment, transparency and strategy. The report showcases the many contexts in which the tool has been used, from board meetings to team away days, including as a prompt for difficult discussions. It also includes quotes from foundation leaders across the UK describing the benefits of using the tool in their own words.

After using the tool, Danielle Walker Palmour, director of the Friends Provident Foundation told ACF:

“We have used the tool as a way of baselining our practice in areas where we are developing our thinking and practice. As we build our learning strategy, we took the survey to get a feel for where we might need to do more work, speak to Trustees and other stakeholders and, frankly, educate ourselves. It is a facilitative and supportive framework for improving practice and finding a way into the accumulated wisdom about what ‘good’ is in our sector.”


David Ireland, chief executive of World Habitat said:

“We used the tools as a way of posing questions to ourselves that pushed us a bit further than we would have gone otherwise and made us examine areas we might have otherwise overlooked.

We set up small staff groups to review each of the thematic areas. The scoring, reasons and recommendations were agreed on a consensus basis within each group before being reported to our trustees. The report promoted useful discussions at the board before the agreed actions were included within our next action plan.”

Carol Mack, ceo of ACF said: 

“The fact that more than 50 of our members have used the new self-assessment tool in its first six months to benchmark themselves against the pillars of stronger foundation practice is something to celebrate. That they have done so in the midst of a global pandemic really does demonstrate the enthusiasm and commitment of foundations in the UK to be ambitious and effective with all their resources. We’re delighted so many have benefitted from the tool, and that they found it easy to use in a wide variety of contexts.”

About the self-assessment tool

The tool is exclusively available to ACF members and can be accessed via the ACF website. It provides a mechanism through which foundations can:

  • Consider the example actions and behaviours for each pillar
  • Reflect on and score their own performance
  • Record examples of how and to what extent the foundation is meeting each pillar
  • Summarise planned future actions

Members have told ACF that the tool is quick and easy to use, and that the process and results are helpful in a variety of contexts, such as board-level discussions, staff away days, strategic reviews and team meetings. The results are anonymous by default, with users asked to give only basic information about the type of foundation they represent.

For more information please contact the ACF policy team at [email protected].