Chief Executive's Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 was a busy and productive year. We provided £40.5m (2017: £40.5m) in grant funding to 250 (2017: 271) remarkable organisations in the UK. We also supported 16 organisations (2017: 10) with £6.7m (2017: £3.3m) of social investments.

Our endowment has performed well in a difficult environment thanks to careful stewardship, our maturing early stage and venture allocation and good diversification into quality managers; and we ended the year with a return of 4.2%. We also marked the first year of our new approach to investing in strategies with enhanced environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact and we continue to improve how we integrate ESG considerations across our whole investment portfolio.

We believe how we fund is as important to us as what we fund.

Good foundation practice can help organisations be more effective and so this year we focused our efforts on improving what we offer and how we work. Our commitment to long term, flexible support continues so that 71% of new funding agreed in 2018 was for core or unrestricted costs and 34% was for longer than three years. The number of applications we receive has dropped for the third year running from 2,755 in 2016 to 2,023 in 2017 and to 1,341 in 2018, meaning fewer organisations are wasting precious resources in preparing unsuccessful applications. Our Grants Plus support awarded £452k to 170 organisations; a record year to date.

We also believe that strengthening the sector’s resilience and infrastructure as a whole is essential. Therefore, we are working more closely with other funders and colleagues and it has been a pleasure to learn and develop alongside them in initiatives such as Act for Change, Creative Civic Change, LocalMotion and the Listening Fund. We have put a great deal of funding, time and resources into helping to build the digital and data infrastructure that the sector lacks and so sorely needs through our work with CAST, 360Giving, DataKind and Shift Design. And we have been excited to lead the work with IVAR and others to agree a better approach to grant reporting to reduce the burden on the organisations we fund.

We celebrated our 10 year anniversary of social investment with a celebratory event which coincided with the launch of our Insight Report reflecting on all that we have learnt over the last decade. This together with our Environment Insight Report and the initial work of our Leaving Care learning programme is teaching us a great deal about the realities in the sector and the role that we play.

2019 marks the last year of our current five year strategic plan and we spent a lot of time in 2018 thinking about our future direction by listening to partners and stakeholders.

The very thoughtful Danielle Walker Palmour from the Friends Provident Foundation has often said that, as foundations, we should stop defining our impact by our marginal spend as grant-makers and recognise ourselves as asset-rich charities, judged by the overall use of all our resources. Through our consultations we have understood better the areas where we can truly add value across everything we do as an organisation. This has helped us ground our future strategy in knowing our place within the broader sector and learn how best we can contribute to it. A heartfelt thank you to all who are helping us on our journey.

Even if 2019 looks set to be a difficult and uncertain year, we will continue to support the magnificent organisations that work so hard to make the UK a more tolerant, prosperous and nature friendly place for all. We will also make sure all our resources are put to work to help them achieve this.

Caroline Mason

Chief Executive

May 2019