Funders’ Collaborative Hub

What is the Funders’ Collaborative Hub?

The ‘Hub’ is an initiative to enable increased understanding, closer alignment, and opportunities for foundation 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, focusing beyond the immediate emergency on recovery and renewal over the next 12-18 months, in order to maximise the potential of their resources to benefit civil society organisations and the communities they serve.

Purpose: The Hub is an opportunity to bring together the knowledge, skills, expertise and resources of foundations, in partnership with wider civil society, 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 and contributes to a VCS that is resilient, inclusive, informed and effective.

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 promote activity and learning developed in collaboration clusters known as ‘spokes’ - existing and developing collaborations of foundations funding together with a focus on particular issues or 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 foundations answer four primary questions:

  • “What is happening already?”
  • “Who else is involved or is interested in this?”
  • “How can we best help?”
  • “What and where are the gaps?”

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

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 meeting weekly to establish a concept and strategic vision.

This group will take forward the initial design and implementation, and report to the strategy group, which will have oversight of the Hub. This 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). It has since met again to agree future developments and a workplan for the project group.

Regular update bulletins are produced for the Hub's stakeholders:

June 2020 update

August 2020 update

Development of a Funder Hub micro-site

In order to understand the emerging and dynamic needs of the sector, the project group has created an interim platform on which to collect live enquiries, questions and activities from funders and others.

Funders can view the site and add your details here

This agile micro-site will help us understand where to go to find information and resources for the Hub platform. It will also assess the appetite of the sector for engagement in this way – a proof of concept for the Hub platform. To be effective we need to build a critical mass of data about Covid-related funder collaborations on this siFollowing user testing workshops and wider engagement, an initial Microsite has been set up to gather intel about existing funder collaborations responding to Covid-19. 

What’s next?

The next phase involved engagement with foundations and wider civil society to develop the design and user journey over the next few weeks, and building and testing an initial online platform that we hope to launch in late summer. A series of user design workshops have taken place, with more planned, to explore the various ways that foundations might use the hub, what its functions will be and how the platform will look and operate. 

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 ( if you would like to provide input, and email if you’d like to join the stakeholder list to be kept up to date with developments.

A note on Diversity, equity and inclusion

The Hub will apply a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lens to its work as 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.

Further reading


Page last updated 22 July 2020

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