Stronger Foundations

Stronger Foundations is a flagship ACF project that aims to help grant-making charitable foundations identify and pursue ambitious practice.

Pursuit of its 40 'pillars of stronger foundation practice' will enable foundations to be ambitious, effective and expert in using all their resources for public good.

Self-assessment tool

Members can now assess themselves against the pillars of stronger foundation practice using a self-assessment tool. Find out how ACF members are using the tool in our latest report, Measuring the strength of your own foundations.

Access the self-assessment tool


Final reports

Impact and learning





Impact and learning
(pdf 1.0MB)






(pdf 764MB)

Five cross-cutting themes





Five cross-cutting themes (pdf 371KB)

Strategy and governance





Strategy and governance
(pdf 1.0MB)

Funding practices





Funding practices
(pdf 818KB)

Report launch webinar recordings


Member involvement

Stronger Foundations is the largest foundation engagement initiative globally to date, and ACF members have been involved throughout.

More than 100 foundation representatives were directly involved through one of six working groups between May 2018 and May 2020, each of which focussed on a different thematic area (see below), with many more involved through regular communications, regional events across the nations of the UK (in collaboration with existing funder networks), and member surveys on particular issues. The working groups' main task was to examine, discuss and debate a series of challenging questions about foundation practice related to its theme. They were comprised of senior foundation representatives drawn from across ACF's membership, including a member of ACF’s board.

Each group met 7 times over an 18 month period. Meetings varied in format depending on the topic and desired content, including more than 50 presentations of evidence (by internal and external experts), small group discussions, whole group exercises and visits.

You can find out more about each of the working groups by clicking on the thematic areas below.

View the working groups' terms of reference (pdf 283KB).

After all six working groups concluded their work, ACF published a series of reports on the 'pillars of stronger foundation practice' for each thematic area. These are available at the top of this page.
ACF is now supporting its members and the wider foundation sector to implement the recommendations and pursue stronger practice.


Thematic areas

Central to the initiative are six thematic areas, which were identified through consultation with ACF members and others.
To read about the progress of the six Stronger Foundation working groups, please click on the links below:


External engagement

Charitable foundations are an integral part of civil society, and major supporters of it.

Stronger Foundations provided ACF with an opportunity to engage members and enable conversations across the foundation sector, but it was essential that the initiative enabled contributions from those beyond the foundation community. External contributors were involved throughout, including critical friends, sector colleagues, funding recipients, academics and policy-makers.

You can read snapshots of all 42 working group meetings on the relevant thematic pages.


Blogs and social media

ACF published a range of materials throughout, including articles and blogs, webinars and via social media using the hashtag #StrongerFoundations. You can find many of these on the individual Working Group pages, including a snapshot of every working group session.

Below is a list of blogs on the initiatives' themes:


How to get involved

To speak to ACF about how your foundation can be involved in Stronger Foundations, or find out more about the progress to date of the initiative, please contact our head of policy, Max Rutherford, at: [email protected].

You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #StrongerFoundations