Great funding practice is an ongoing conversation between a foundation and the communities they wish to support. The issue many of us in the foundation sector are trying to resolve is how we can embed these experiences and perspectives meaningfully as a core part of our operations.
Much like the wider society we operate in, the foundation sector lacks diverse voices within positions of power. Recent data published from the Association of Charitable Foundations revealed that 60% of trustees on foundation boards over the age 65, 99% are white and most are recruited through close pre-existing networks. While many in our sector may be well versed in holding consultations and focus groups with the various community groups that we work with, it creates an uncomfortable divide between those within leadership and decision-making roles, from predominately white and middle class backgrounds, and those expert by experience who are sometimes mined for their knowledge or included when we need them. We need a far better integration of people with lived experiences working within our organisations in a more meaningful way.
This is why Esmée Fairbairn Foundation are thrilled to support the 2027 programme; a 12-month placement programme that places talented frontline workers with lived experience of social issues or injustice into funding roles within the foundation sector. Crucial within these roles, is the opportunity for each Associate on the programme to use both their skills and experiences to make strategic and meaningful decisions about where and how funding is allocated. More broadly, the programme will also give us an opportunity to learn and take a fresh look at expertise, diversity and equality in everything we do from recruitment practice to decision making. There is also a 2027 campaign for better governance which encourages foundations commit to ensuring that a minimum of 40% of their trustees identify as from the communities they most exist to serve by 2027.
Foundations are an integral part of the civil society and, as the world we operate in changes, then so must we. This is about building better funding practice and developing alongside colleagues that bring different expertise and experience.. As the programme launches in October, we look forward to hosting two Associates at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and we look forward very much to welcoming them.
For more information on the program see www.2027.org.uk
Interested in hosting an Associate? Please contact Jake Hayman ay Jake@tenyearstime.com