Working together to improve practice

From: Friends Provident Foundation
Published: Wed Jan 19 2022

Despite placing value on lived experience in the projects they fund, the boards of charity and community foundations are overwhelming made up of white and elderly men.

A working group established to increase accountability, transparency and diversity in foundations has established a new method of assessing the governance and reporting practices of private trusts and foundations in the UK. This project is led by, Friends Provident Foundation and 9 other charitable foundations.

Through public consultation, with over 150 responses and with support from the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), the working group produced the Foundation Practice Rating (FPR), a new method of assessing the governance and reporting practices of private trusts and foundations in the UK which will be made available publicly.

Danielle Walker Palmour, Director from Friends Provident Foundation stated:
"As a small trust with a big mission, we have always known that working in partnership with other foundations was the best way to maximise the chance of change. Working with peers to fund the Foundation Practice Rating also enables us to share knowledge and expertise and to learn together."

The FPR will assess Foundations in three areas:

- Accountability
- Transparency
- Diversity

Over 100 foundations, including all those who are in the working group, will be assessed against a standard list of criteria relating to these three areas. Each will be rated annually for several years, with the ratings published along with the underlying data.

FPR will only draw on publicly available materials (foundations' websites, annual reports, etc.), reflecting the experience of prospective grantees searching for information. The starting criteria has been published here and they have also published a how to do well guide.

Additionally, the FPR will create consistent standards addressing power imbalances between funders and grantees. Independent funders tend to be relatively powerful in the relationships in which they operate: those requiring funds have rarely been in the position to question the source of funds or the legitimacy of the funder. In the era of big data and shifting power balances, these traditional relationships are changing. Foundations recognise - as evidenced in the ACF Foundation Giving Trends 2019 report - that charity effectiveness and responsibility are based on transparency and accountability to those they support, and to society more widely.

Some foundations have already received their scores. Jane Ray from the Albert Hunt Trust stated:

"The Foundation Practice Rating has provided an opportunity for a ' conversation starter ' for us to undertake a review of our website with a view to becoming more accessible to applicants. This will be looked at during 2022 and beyond"

The FPR is intended to support foundations in highlighting where they can improve on being more accountable, transparent and diverse. Best practice resources will be shared and links to training will be made available.

They are aiming to launch the report in March 2021.
Company: Friends Provident Foundation
Contact Name: Jake Furby
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