Firm Foundations: A snapshot of how trusts and foundations are responding to the economic downturn in 2009
This report offers a ‘snap-shot’ of the impact of the current recession on UK charitable trusts and foundations. It is based on in-depth interviews conducted in April 2009 with 19 of the largest grant-makers, whose spending makes up the majority of the total contribution (in terms of grant expenditure) of the trust and foundation sector. The key finding is that, despite the current economic difficulties, these organisations are taking a ‘calm, measured approach’ and levels of grant-making are being sustained. It finds there is some change in the way grants are made, with closer scrutiny of grant applicants and a desire to ‘spend to succeed’ with implications for recipients’ ability to prove their effectiveness. One section of the report likely to attract interest examines the potential ‘silver lining’ of the downturn. It argues that these might include ‘deeper thinking and greater vigilance’ on the part of trustees and staff, more collaboration between foundations, an increase in spending-out and being part of wider debates around values. The report concludes by identifying a number of issues that merit further discussion and debate, and the Charity Commission is planning a seminar to explore these in the autumn.