What is the Funders’ Collaborative Hub?

The ‘Hub’ is an initiative for foundations to enable increased understanding, closer alignment, and opportunities for collaboration in the post-emergency phase of Covid-19. It aims to enhance the effectiveness and impact of individual and collective responses by foundations to Covid-19, in order to maximise the potential of their resources to benefit civil society organisations and the communities they serve.

The Hub is designed to support charities and civil society beyond the immediate emergency, focusing on recovery and renewal over the next 12-18 months.

Purpose: The Hub is an opportunity to bring together the knowledge, skills, expertise and resources of foundations, in partnership with the sector, to create a time-limited, collective, evidence-based and effective contribution to the recovery and renewal required as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Vision: The Hub will inform and amplify the contribution that individual foundations can make to recovery and renewal. The impact of the hub will be more than the sum of its parts. The vision is that the recovery and renewal contribute to a VCS that is resilient, inclusive, informed and effective in what will be very different circumstances.

Principles: Drawing on those developed by the Covid-19 Funder pledge, the Hub will work to the following guiding principles: Intelligent, complementary, easy, trusting, flexible, reflective, equitable, straightforward, quick, transparent, and co-created.

The Hub will be a central focus for activity and intelligence related to recovery and renewal. It will bring together the activity and intelligence developed in specialist ‘spokes’ – which are existing (and developing) collaborations of organisations in the field working on the funding of particular areas.

The Hub will ultimately have a UK wide remit, with an England focus initially, but aiming to work with networks in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. It sits within the governance and organisational framework of ACF. Organisations involved in the Hub do not need to be members of ACF but should be committed to sharing data, including through 360Giving, and insights/learning via the Hub.


What we hope the Hub will achieve

We hope the Hub will help answer four primary questions:

  • “What is happening already?” – By collating data/insights and collaborating on intelligence the Hub can help foundations and others be more informed in their decision-making and resource allocation.
  • “Who else is involved or is interested in this?” – The Hub will enable foundations and others find out about existing collaborations (‘spokes’) that they can engage and access.
  • “How can we best help?” – The Hub will support foundations to align funding, practices and processes to help fund seekers access support more efficiently
  • “What and where are the gaps?” – The Hub will identify gaps in the response, and draw funders together in an attempt to fill them

In due course, the Hub may also be able to help wider civil society with an answer to this question:

  • “Who can help me?” – The Hub may, in the future, be able to signpost fund seekers towards funders that can help with specific issues, and facilitate access to collaborations that are seeking to distribute funding

To achieve these outcomes the Hub will aim to:

  • Encourage funders to connect with the Hub to achieve a critical mass of engagement and data that is accessible, open and helpful for all kinds of foundations
  • Ensure that the Hub is up-to-date, comprehensive and easy to engage with
  • Offer a range of ways that foundations can collaborate that goes beyond either pooled funds or information sharing, including linking to existing or emerging networks and groups of funders in a “hub and spoke” model


A note on Diversity, equity and inclusion

The Hub will apply a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lens to its work. This will be both an ongoing consideration and a work in progress. The initial strategy group draws on expertise from across foundations and civil society. Activity and deliverables will need to be co-designed and co-produced so that they take account of the needs of protected characteristics (including race, gender, disability), and also to recognise the circumstances of different places in terms of location. ACF will also seek to embed the ‘pillars of stronger foundation practice’ developed through its Stronger Foundations initiative.


Progress to date

Following two ACF sessions in March and April about the foundation sector’s response to Covid-19, the Hub was instigated by a group of charitable foundations, including Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales. A small project group, involving foundation representatives and ACF staff, has been working for the last two months to establish a concept and strategic vision. This group will take forward the initial design and implementation, and report to the strategy group (detailed below).

An initial strategy group, which will have oversight of the Hub, was convened by ACF and met for the first time on the 28th May, comprised of representatives from the foundation sector and civil society organisations (for a full list of members click here). This group agreed a terms of reference, and a set of guiding principles and questions to focus on (as outlined above).

An update for June 2020 is here


What’s next?

The next phase will include engagement with foundations and wider civil society to develop the design and user journey, as well as building and testing an initial online platform that we hope to launch in late June.


How to get involved

Critical to the effectiveness of the Hub is involvement of a wide and diverse range of organisations. We welcome contributions and thoughts now. Please contact Max Rutherford, Head of Policy (max@acf.org.uk) if you would like to provide input, and email Policy@acf.org.uk if you’d like to join the stakeholder list to be kept up to date with developments.


Further reading


Page last updated 5 June 2020

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