99 per cent of trustees at charity foundations are white

28 Jun 2018 News

Trustee boards of foundation are 99 per cent white, 66 per cent male, and nearly 60 per cent over 64 – a situation described as “not pretty” by the sector’s representative body. 

The Association of Charitable Foundations asked Cass Business School to look at the make-up of trustee boards in the foundation sector, drawing on the wider sector research that it carried out for the Charity Commission last year.  

The broad conclusion from the research is that “trustees within grant-making foundations are more narrowly drawn from society than their counterparts in the charitable sector as a whole”.

It found that 99 per cent of foundation trustees are white, compared to 92 per cent in the wider charity sector. Male trustees outnumber women by 2:1. 58 per cent of trustees are over 64 – 10 per cent higher than the rest of the sector and only 3 per cent are under 45. 

Three-quarters of foundation trustees are recruited informally. 

Some 92 per cent of trustees said their role was rewarding, with 40 per cent describing it as very rewarding. 

‘Not a pretty picture’ 

The report calls on the Charity Commission, the Office for Civil Society, the Association of Charitable Foundations and others to improve their advice. 

Writing on ACF’s website, Keiran Goddard, director of external affairs at ACF, said: “The picture painted by the data is not pretty.

"Bluntly put, it shows a part of the sector that it is disproportionately homogenous in terms of race, gender and age, and arguably non-optimal in terms of structure and recruitment practices.

“We can and must do better.”

The research forms part of ACF’s Stronger Foundations initiative, which Goddard said would  “provide a sector-led framework for working and thinking through these and many other issues.”

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