Who are Foundations for Social Justice?

24 May 2022

Foundations for Social Justice (previously known as the Woburn Place Collaborative) is an established network of leaders of foundations working to promote social justice. 

The group meets four times a year. The meetings provide: 

• A thinking space to make sense of the changing context of work for social justice 
• A safe environment for peers to share their ways of working, leadership challenges and opportunities 
• Connection to a peer group of leaders 
• The opportunity to learn from national and international practitioners from across civil society 

Through these meetings, leaders identify, shape and participate in emerging collaborations.  

The network has been active and supported by ACF for more than 15 years. Throughout that time, its members have been at the forefront of responding to emerging social justice issues including the climate crisis, rising inequality and division in communities. The Collaborative has its roots in a residential conference held in the USA in 2005 between a small group of US and UK funders. On return to the UK the participants decided to continue to meet to discuss new ideas and opportunities for collaboration.  

As the network has evolved over the years it has welcomed new members and been responsible for creating and incubating numerous collaborations. Most recently this has included the Funder Commitment on Climate Change, which now has more than 90 foundations as signatories and which inspired similar initiatives in Canada, France, Italy and Spain, as well as a global funder commitment, launched at COP26. 

Over the past year the network has delivered a series of exploratory sessions focussed on taking action individually and collectively for racial justice, whether this be decolonising investments, reframing risk, supporting boards of trustees or connecting with existing initiatives. Previous sessions have focussed on the post-pandemic landscape, ‘left behind’ communities and the importance of relationships in building a better society.  

There is also a renewed focus on sharing what the network does and who its members are. At ACF we want to talk about the network more too and help it to share its learning more broadly.

Members vary greatly in size, location, and funding areas but all have a strong focus on advancing social justice issues. Current members include Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Carnegie UK and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. 

The network is currently extending a warm invitation for up to five new members to join them. Membership of Foundations for Social Justice is open to ACF members and there is an additional annual cost of £1450 to join.  

Members of the network play an active role in making it a success and are expected to serve a term on the planning group and chair and host one meeting every 2-3 years. 

If you are a foundation leader (chief executive or equivalent) whose organisation has a strong focus on social justice issues, possibly within a broader remit, and if you have a personal commitment to collaborative action, get in touch to express an interest.