ACF publishes 10 Pillars of Stronger Practice for Chairs of foundations

ACF has today published a new report highlighting ten recommendations for ambitious practice that are of particular relevance to Chairs of foundation boards. 10 Pillars of Stronger Practice for Chairs of Foundations builds on the six thematic reports which emerged from ACF’s Stronger Foundations initiative, and marks the occasion of ACF’s annual event for foundation Chairs of trustees.

The pillars set a high bar for ambitious practice, but can be pursued by all foundations, whatever their remit, size or area of focus. While examples of every pillar can be found somewhere in the UK foundation sector, every foundation will find room for improvement, and in some areas a foundation will be at an early stage of its journey.

The recommendations to chairs include making the foundation accountable to those it serves, designing funding processes in accordance with its values, seeking to understand the foundation’s impact on others and avoiding harm, and having a diverse trustee board and staff team.

As the report notes:

“The challenges we all face are immediate an existential. The climate crisis and Covid-19 are having an unprecedented short and long-term impact on society – locally, nationally and globally; on institutions, communities and individuals. Civil society is looking to foundations to help ameliorate the damage and enable the recovery, as well as address the challenges that Covid-19 has laid bare. Now is a time for foundations to be more ambitious and more effective than ever before in how they use their individual and collective resources for public good”

A Chair has a key leadership role in any charity, from ensuring that all of the charity’s resources are deployed in pursuit of its objectives and its mission, to overseeing the charity’s finances, governance and accountability. By selecting ten pillars from across the six different Stronger Foundations reports which are particularly relevant for Chairs of foundations, ACF hopes to create a useful entry point into the more detailed reports and to support foundations to implement the pillars in practice.

Over a two-year period, more than 100 foundations have taken part in ACF’s Stronger Foundation initiative, which aims to help grant-making charitable foundations identify and pursue excellent practice. The culmination of this member-led effort, the largest foundation

engagement programme of its kind in the world to date, was the production of six thematic reports. The initiative identified a total of 40 pillars across the six different thematic areas, on issues ranging from diversity to transparency, from funding practices to investment


Max Rutherford
Head of Policy, Association of Charitable Foundations

Twitter: @ACFoundations

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