Keiran Goddard, Deputy Director of The Alex Ferry Foundation:

Foundations in the UK give £3 billion a year in grants, making a vital and varied contribution to civil society. In the face of ongoing government cuts, this money is essential in sustaining a diverse and thriving charitable ecosystem. But beyond their grant making, foundations also have other leavers they can pull in the service of their charitable mission; convening, advocacy, and perhaps most crucially of all, how they utilise their assets. At over £67 billion, the foundation sector’s collective asset base is significant, meaning that how, where and in what way they invest has the potential to be as socially influential as the grants that they make. Awareness of this has grown over the past decade or so, and practice has shifted accordingly.

We have seen the sector increasingly embrace divestment of various types, alongside shareholder activism and demands for more robust ESG-led policies and products. But while progress has undoubtedly been made in some areas, this report will hopefully begin the conversation on an issue that we fear might be something of a lacuna at the heart of foundation investment practice – namely, labour and labour rights.

As a starter for ten, we hope that this paper might mark the starting point for a wider discussion about how the foundation sector can work generatively with the contradictions inherent in its dual roles as institutional investors at scale and as agents of progressive social change.

Click the image below to read the full report.