Funds and spending of foundations and trusts – “state of the field” in the current policy and economic environment
Pharoah, Cathy (2014)

Cathy Pharoah, Professor of Charity Funding, Cass Business School

UK grantmaking foundations and trusts own around two-fifths of all voluntary sector assets. (Pharoah, 201; NCVO Almanac, 2014) The history of foundations in the UK, as in other European countries and the US, reveals policy and decision-making evolving in response to the economic, institutional and political factors of the day. (Anheier, 2010; Waterson, 2013) This paper asks what the ‘state of field’ of UK foundation funding is today, and what are the implications in a context where policies and economics of government spending reduction have seen public and third sector expectations of foundations grow thick and fast. (See for example, EUFORI 2014; The Smith Institute/ Peabody/ New Philanthropy Capital 2013: Barclays/ NPC 2011)). Calls for philanthropy to address gaps in public welfare have come in an era where foundations’ role and use of resources have increasingly come under research and policy microscopes, with mounting and sometimes conflicting pressures on foundations to create more impact; to innovate to effect social change (eg Anheier and Leat, 2006; Anheier and Daly, 2007); to work more strategically through social prevention (eg Barclays Wealth/ New Philanthropy Capital, 2011), through diverting assets to social investment (eg Bishop, 2010; UK Cabinet Office, May 2013), through reforming social markets ( Fioramonti, 2012), through a focus on social justice or on so-called ‘grants-plus’ (Tomei, 2013; Cairns, 2012). While some foundations are partners in such initiatives, we know little about how far foundations generally embrace such advice and exhortation. This paper will explore recent evidence on foundation finances and decision-making (Pharoah 2013, 2014), and ask what its implications for the sector under the pressures of the current environment are.


Cathy Pharoah is Professor of Charity Funding and Co-Director of the ESRC Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy, Cass Business School (CGAP). She is an expert on funding for the third sector, specialising in philanthropy. She produces the annual Family Foundation Giving report, with the Pears Foundation, now into its sixth edition and is also currently working with Pears and the Association of Charitable Foundations on a new report on trends in foundation finance. Another current project is an EU-funded study of foundation support for research and innovation. She has carried out commissioned research for government and many charitable clients, works closely with the donor advisor community, and was Director of Research at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) for 11 years. She is a founder and Assistant Editor of Voluntary Sector Review, and presents widely on giving and philanthropy


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