Monthly Archives

July 2018

2027 – A Look To The Future On Expertise in Grant Making

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The Big Lottery Fund, the UK’s largest funder of community activity across the UK, has today announced a grant of more than £500k of National Lottery funding to support 2027’s work to bring new experts into the grant making sector.



The Big Lottery Fund’s grant to 2027 will last over ten years and seeks to achieve long-term lasting change by diversifying the voices, expertise and experience in a field that was last week revealed to be 99% white, 68% male and 74% above median income at trustee level.

The Big Lottery Fund’s ambition is to support people to have the confidence and power to influence decisions that affect their life and their community. What better place to start than ensuring those involved in funding decisions are reflective of the communities funders seek to support.

Most people know little about the world of grant making and wouldn’t see themselves as working for a trust or foundation. People who are frontline workers themselves from working class communities are likely to feel that such careers simply ‘aren’t for them’ even though the value they can bring to us as grant makers is vast.

This is exactly the challenge that the 2027 coalition is helping us and other funders to overcome – they are running a leadership programme for brilliant frontline workers from diverse, working class communities to help them take placements (and later careers) in the world of grant-making.

This is a really exciting opportunity for the foundation and grant-making sector to reap the benefits of having diversity in our staff teams. We can become more knowledgeable, innovative and well-rounded – making better decisions about the issues impacting on communities. Momentum is building and 2027 provide reason for optimism!

Bringing lived experiences into grant making

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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

Interested in hosting an Associate? Please contact Jake Hayman ay

Million Pound Project Launched to Bring New Expertise to Grant-Making

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A £500k National Lottery grant has been awarded to a coalition of partners acting together to bring frontline workers from working class communities into the trust and foundation sector.



Ten Years’ Time, Charityworks, Ruth Ibegbuna and Baljeet Sandhu, have come together to form a coalition, 2027, which has been launched to support brilliant frontline workers from working class communities into decision-making roles in trusts and foundations.

The funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity across the UK, will help finance a 12-month placement programme designed to help grant funders to access deep community expertise in their teams. It will run for each of the next ten years, recruiting and training 150 individuals from working class backgrounds with professional experience that has ingrained them in communities.  The remaining income will be made up from contributions from participating foundations as well as a £150k donation from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The programme launches in October 2018 and has received an incredibly diverse range of applications from frontline workers wanting to take part in the 12-place inaugural cohort. Trusts and foundations are currently signing up to take part with most places already allocated.

The announcement comes just two weeks after the release of data from CASS Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness, that shows foundation trustees to be 99% white, more than two-thirds male, 58% over 64 years old and 74% above the median income.


Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said:


This National Lottery funding will support 2027 to broaden the range of expertise sitting at the decision-making table within trusts and foundations. People within a community should be at the heart of every decision affecting that community, and this is why it is so important to bring greater diversity to the fore.”


Caroline Mason, CEO of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said:


“As a foundation, we want the work of the organisations we fund to be ‘done with, not done to’ the communities they support, so we need ask the same of ourselves. As well as funding this programme and we will be hosting two placements and can’t wait for them to start.”


Fozia Irfan, CEO of Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation said:


“‘The 2027 project is a much-needed initiative to focus foundations’ minds on the importance of reflecting the communities we serve.  Creating inclusive and more representative boards and teams, can only make our work more impactful and effective.”


2027 Partner, Baljeet Sandhu, said:


Despite there being many lived-experience leaders working across our communities, as a whole our social sector fails to equitably and meaningfully value lived expertise in our work – expertise earned from first-hand experience of social issues or injustices and activated through work embedded in communities. Instead, people are too often hired through well-established networks far removed from the communities they serve. 2027 isn’t about helping people from working class communities take part in the programme or improve their CVs, it’s about helping trusts and foundations improve their decision-making through the inclusion of diverse perspectives gained from lived, as well as learnt, experience – so that together, we can all inform efforts to support communities we are committed to serve and help thrive.”


2027 Partner Ned Younger of Charityworks, said:


“The research we undertook in advance of this programme showed that not only was there an appetite for more inclusive routes into the grant-making sector from frontline workers, but also that many foundations and trusts shared an ambition to recruit and develop staff teams that had deeper expertise working within the communities they seek to serve.


The CASS CCE research shows how far the sector has to go to achieve that ambition, but in the 2027 programme foundations and trusts will find a practical mechanism to help them move towards it. The diversity of candidates applying to the programme in its first year and the positive response we’ve had from potential host organisations so far has shown the potential of 2027, and we are excited to deliver on that potential over the next 10 years.”


Beyond the Placement Programme

To meet the wide interest from trust and foundations for the initiative, the 2027 Coalition have also developed additional elements to the programme including supporting boards looking to examine their own approach to expertise, diversity & inclusion and a campaign where foundations commit to ensuring that a minimum of 40% of their trustees identify as from the communities they most exist to serve, by 2027.




For further quotes please contact 2027 partner Ned Younger on or 07984 820 652.

  • For more on 2027, see
  • The four partners in the 2027 coalition are Charityworks, Baljeet Sandhu, Ruth Ibegbuna and Ten Years’ Time.
  • Alongside Big Lottery’s contribution, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust have also supported this work.
  • The 2027 Campaign asks foundations to address lack of diversity through a pledge to recruit trustees from the communities they most exist to serve.
  • For cited data on foundation diversity see

About the Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, our funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 we have awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.