Foundations urged to be 'more ambitious than ever'

Charitable foundations are being urged to be “more ambitious than ever” in using their resources to help communities through the coronavirus pandemic. 

A report from the umbrella body the Association of Charitable Foundations says the outbreak and the climate crisis are having an “unprecedented short- and long-term impact on society”. 

The report, Ten Pillars of Stronger Practice, is aimed at foundation chairs. It is drawn from six publications produced by the ACF as part of its Stronger Foundations initiative, which was set up in 2017 to help foundations identify and pursue excellent practice. 

Each of the six individual reports focused on developing best-practice recommendations for foundations in areas including diversity, funding, investment and strategy and governance. 

The latest publication draws out 10 main areas of what the ACF calls “ambitious practice” that chairs should aim for in their organisations. 

These include that foundations should make themselves accountable to those they support and serve; that they proactively seek to understand how their work affects others and works to avoid and redress harm; and understand the importance of transparency. 

The report says the challenges faced by society are “immediate and existential”, which means it is right that foundations should be asked questions about whether they are making the most of their potential. 

“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,” it says. 

“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.”

The Stronger Foundations initiative involved more than 100 foundation representatives and 50 external experts and critics, who took part in more than 40 inquiry sessions on the six core themes that were reported on. 

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