6% of UK foundation grants awarded to tackle injustice in 2022, finds report

27 Oct 2023 News

Close-up protester with megaphone for demonstration


Less than 6% of all UK foundation giving went towards work tackling injustice last year, researchers have found.

The second edition of Funding Justice, released yesterday and carried out by the Civic Power Fund and The Hour is Late, looked at 18,816 grants from 60 known social justice funders totalling £952.4m, or 21% of UK foundation giving, in 2021-22. 

The researchers identified four categories of social justice work, namely organising at the core, justice and power, advocating for change, and justice but not change. 

They found that 27% of grants from known social justice funders went towards work addressing injustice, which represents 5.74% of all UK foundation giving.

Meanwhile, 1.6% of all the grants that were analysed, or 0.33% of all UK foundation giving, had “organising at their core”.

Social justice grants amounted to 6% of UK foundation giving

The researchers identified 2,773 social justice grants worth £256.1m and 16,043 other grants from the 60 foundations worth £696.3m.

Social justice grants made either in the calendar year 2021 or the 2021-22 tax year amounted to 5.74% of all UK foundation giving, while other grants totalled 15.61%.

When allocating the social justice grants into six theories of change (service delivery, personal transformation, alternatives, inside game, structure organising and mass protest) the researchers established that most were directed to either inside game work (37%) or service delivery (32.1%).

Inside game “is work aimed at decision-makers, but often excludes the very communities both facing injustice and fighting to end it” while service delivery “delivers much-needed care to communities, but does not go further in agitating for systemic change”. 

In comparison, less than 10% of social justice funding went towards mass protest and structure organising, which are known as “outside game” activities that communities rely on to be heard. 

“It appears that social justice grantmakers are primarily focused on working through established institutions and channels to achieve change on the ‘inside track’ or on delivering services, rather than on building power that can help to disrupt the status quo,” the researchers said.   

‘Long way to go’

The researchers concluded that “while vital and promising debates are happening in UK philanthropy”, “we still have a long way to go to ensure these debates translate into meaningful shifts felt by communities on the frontlines”.

Eliza Baring, project support officer at Civic Power Fund, said: “Our analysis shows that social justice grants are heavily weighted towards service delivery work, or work with decision-makers in elite settings.

“We found that very little funding went to activities challenging positional power – the kind of work that excluded communities rely on to be heard.”

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