Who? The Directors and other senior staff of the charitable trusts and foundations funding Civil Society Futures (Baring Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, City Bridge Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Lloyds Bank Foundation)
What? To consider the future role of charitable trusts and foundations.
Where? Barrow Cadbury Trust
When? June 9th 2017
Why? To brief the charitable trusts and foundations supporting the Inquiry on progress so far and to engage them in the conversation given they are part of civil society.
Insights: (what stood out for you)
What stood out for me was the identification of the issues that charitable trusts and foundations need to grapple with in order to ensure that they are fully engaged, responsible and accountable members of civil society in the future. One of these issues was diversity and the need to ensure that the leadership and staff of trusts and foundations reflect the communities they serve. Another issue was power relationships. Funders are regarded as having the power because they have the money. Questions raised by the discussion included – how can trust and foundation staff best use the power they have responsibly and does it make sense to share or transfer power in order to secure the best decisions? A third issue was collaboration. The questions suggested here included – can funders collaborate on the bigger issues and on a larger scale?
The discussion underlined that charitable trusts and foundations are a very important part of the jigsaw of civil society. They provide a source of support independent from politics and public popularity. However, they are not subject to the same pressures as other civil society organisations to change and evolve for example, funding and accountability pressures. Their pressure to change will be based purely on a commitment to serve wider civil society responsibly.