Civil Society Futures: Final findings published

The inquiry into the future of civil society led by Julia Unwin CBE has published its final report. The Story of Our Times: shifting power, bridging divides transforming society is the result of two years of conversations with a broad range of individuals, communities and organisations, and outlines areas in which civil society can improve to face the challenges that were identified.

It proposes that civil society commits to a shared ‘PACT’– power, accountability, connection, trust – and calls on a range of actors including foundations to take action under these headings.

Ideas for funders of civil society include: supporting the people-power grid; helping to build local endowments; measuring and assessing depth and breadth of connections; shifting power around funding decisions; covering the costs of time taken to build connections and trust; co-designing accountability mechanisms; and taking risks.

In her response to the findings, ACF Chief Executive Carol Mack said:

“The PACT framework speaks directly to some of the most important challenges we are faced with, both as a sector, and, more broadly, as a society. These challenges could be analysed, weighed and deconstructed in any number of ways, but reflecting on their specific relevance to foundations, one thing in particular occurs to me. As funders, foundations are operating in a social, political and psychological climate that might reasonably be characterised as a profound crisis of listening.

Acknowledging this has implications across the four pillars of the PACT framework, and foundations of all shapes and sizes are rightly reflecting on their practices and processes in the light of it. On the one hand, they are considering their ‘responsibility’, asking to whom are they obliged and in what ways? But on the other, they are also considering their response-ability, asking in what ways they are practically enabled to meet emerging need and imagine new possibilities.”

Read Carol’s full response here. 

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