Each year, the FPR randomly selects the 100 largest UK foundations, based on their giving-budgets. The project outsources the evaluation to Giving Evidence — an independent research organisation, who have defined the criteria and created the system.
Data collection and analysis, for the assessment, is entirely through publicly accessible information present in their annual reports and websites.
- No Opt-out Option: Chosen foundations can neither opt out nor influence the outcome.
- Non-comparative Ratings: All foundations are assigned a separate grade (A – the best, through to D) based on the performance in each domain, and are given an overall grade.
The results are published annually.
All partners are assessed independently.
Why we do what we do?
The inception of the FPR stemmed from a specific intention in mind, initiated by Danielle Walker Palmour (Friends Provident Foundation), who recognised the need for improvement in three critical domains: Diversity, Accountability, and Transparency. The FPR initiative aims to foster positive change and enhance practices within the foundation sector.
The UK philanthropic sector, despite displaying strengths in funding adaptability, responsiveness, risk-taking and boldness, remains imbalanced. Predominantly the control of foundations lies with older, white men, appointed through informal networks. The value of lived experience isn’t consistently extended to foundation boards.
The emphasis is not on the funded projects but how funding is distributed.
The FPR aims for impartiality, using existing standards instead of making subjective value judgments.
Our methodology assesses participants:
- All funders of this initiative are evaluated.
- Approximately 300 UK foundations from the UK’s Association of Charitable Foundations Giving Trends report are included in the sample.
- UK community foundations are part of the assessment.
- 100 are selected randomly
Our approach is carefully designed:
- The benchmarks we’ve designed see the potential for improvement in every organisation.
- We focus on driving change, not inducing guilt or shame.
- Reliance on data minimises bias.
- We highlight examples of good practice to illustrate attainable standards.
We keep the assessment realistic and fair:
- If a researcher can’t find the data within 90 minutes, it’s treated as non-existent.
- We understand, “one size doesn’t fit all”. Not all criteria apply to every foundation, and we adjust accordingly.
Through these principles, we hope to stimulate new discussions about diversity, accountability, and transparency within UK philanthropy.
The Foundation Practice Rating is not:
- a ranking. In a ranking foundations are ranked from best to worst. In our rating, we report the results by letter grade, A, B, C or D and as such all foundations could be in the A category or all could be in the D category. We do not differentiate between different As, an A is an A in our rating;
- an attempt to name and shame trusts;
- designed to “catch out” foundations with poor practice. You can refer to our how to do well document to help improve your practice.