Stronger Foundations is a flagship ACF project that aims to help grant-making charitable foundations identify and pursue excellent practice.
Through this process, ACF will support its members to be ambitious, effective and expert, so that foundation resources are allocated for social good in a way that maximises the potential benefit to the individuals, communities and societies they support.
Report launch webinar recordings
Stronger Foundations is the largest foundation engagement initiative globally to date. ACF members have been involved through six working groups, 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.
More than 100 foundation representatives are 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). 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.
Now that all six working groups have concluded their work, ACF is publishing a series of reports on the 'pillars of stronger foundation practice' for each thematic area. These are available at the top of this page.
During the second half of 2020 and beyond, ACF will support its members and the wider foundation sector to implement the recommendations and pursue stronger practice.
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:
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Impact and Learning
- Transparency and engagement
- Strategy and governance
- Funding practices
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.
ACF has 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 initative's themes:
- Why we need to stop talking about equality! from Fozia Irfan, member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group
- Trusts and foundations have a diversity deficit from James Fitzpatrick, member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group
- Charities and public benefit: the ends reall don't justify the means from Jonathan Freeman, member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group
- Choosing the right funding tool from Anthony Tomei, member of the Funding Practices working group
- Strategic litigation - a risk worth taking? from Max Rutherford, ACF's Head of Policy
- Transparency, the feedback loop, and user research and design from Anna de Pulford, member of Transparency and Engagement working group
- Is intentional investing beyond returns becoming a moral, social and financial imperative? from Max Rutherford, ACF's Head of Policy
- Thinking big, acting small from Rhiannon Bearne, member of the Funding Practices working group
- Foundations and the art of the soluble from Anthony Tomei, member of the Funding Practices working group
All of these activities will contribute significantly to the raw material gathered through the initiative as a whole, from which ACF will create a variety of products. These will include:
- In 2019 and 2020, a series of reports based on the breadth of discussions and evidence gathered by each working group, which will present ACF's view on the 'pillars of stronger foundation practice' in each theme
- In autumn 2020, a toolkit for foundations to consider their own practice and steps they could take to become stronger across a range of domains
- From the second half of 2020, a learning series to support foundations to implement the ideas presented in the reports
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 Stronger Foundations programme manager, Sally Boylan, on Sally@acf.org.uk
You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #StrongerFoundations
Page last updated August 2020