The Governance & Financial Management of Endowed Charitable Foundations

The Governance & Financial Management of Endowed Charitable Foundations is a report published by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), and is the first research of its kind into this sector. It examines the common principles for the management of charitable foundations and, through interviews and case studies, shows the ways different organisations have implemented them to get the best value for their charitable aims.

There are 900 endowed foundations (charities that fund their activities mostly from investments) in England and Wales with income over £500k. These foundations have collective assets of £48.5bn – nearly half the Voluntary Sector assets of the UK as a whole - and together spend £2.3bn on charitable activities each year.

The report concludes that foundations are thinking independently and creatively in today’s tough climate, but suggests that tackling common misconceptions could enable them to do even better. The report's author, Richard Jenkins, said: “Foundations already provide significant charitable funding and only trustees can decide what is the right way to achieve their aims. But dispelling false notions – for example that trustees have to defer to industry specialists, or that boards must in all circumstances preserve the endowment, or about what appropriate investment benchmarks might be - could lead trustees to use their asset more boldly.”

The research was funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Trinity College Cambridge, and Trust for London.