Criteria

 

As this project is partly about promoting transparency, we feel it is important to be open about the types of criteria that we will use to rate foundations.

The rest of this page sets out criteria we used during the first year.

It explains what criteria we used, how the criteria was chosen, other options considered and what exclusions were included.

The criteria were selected through a process which ran from 30th March to 29th June that involved: discussions with the Funders Group; researching criteria used in other self-assessment, rating and ranking projects (UK and international); seeking public feedback on a sub-set of these criteria through an open consultation online process; soliciting suggestions from the general public via Friends Provident Foundation’s (FPF) website, Giving Evidence’s (GE) website and wider social media; and interviews with sector and rating experts. 

 

In scope:

The criteria corresponds with the agreed three ‘pillars’: these are diversity, accountability and transparency.

Any criteria that did not relate to these are out of scope. For example, criteria only about sustainability or relating to an assessment of a foundation’s impact or its strategy are out of scope.

 

Observable:

The rating process only uses data in the public domain (via a foundation’s website or the relevant regulator’s website). Therefore, we can only include criteria for which the data could be in the public domain: the evidence of whether a foundation meets a criterion must be observable from the outside, and not require (for instance) interviews with staff or insider knowledge. This requirement means that we can include a criterion of whether the foundation has a diversity policy; but excludes (a suggested criterion of) “whether BME organisations are used as bid candy” (another suggestion made via the consultation process). It also excludes measuring foundations on criteria which only very few are likely to formally report, such as the specific age of trustees.

Transparency

QuestionUsed in other ratings/rankings/self-assessment tools/guidance?Other comments
The foundation has a website.GlassPocketsWe will only rate foundations using publicly available data.
The foundation publishes any information about its funding priorities.GlassPockets & ACF Transparency & Engagement95% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that the second part of this criterion should be included.
Does the foundation state how to apply for funding?GlassPockets & ACF Transparency & Engagement95% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
The foundation publishes any eligibility criteria for what it funds.GlassPockets & ACF Transparency & Engagement95% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
The foundation publishes any information about a time frame for funding decisions. This must be explicit dates, not statements like ‘twice a year’.No87% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
The foundation cites a time frame in which it will disburse funds.NoSuggestion via consultation.
The foundation publishes any information on who or what it funded.GlassPockets89% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
The foundation provides its data on awarded grants in a download-able (open) format that doesn’t require payment to access? (.xlsx, .csv. .jstor, or .txt)NoSuggestion via consultation.
The foundation says it has made data available for download at 360Giving.No
The foundation publishes success rates for its funding.NoSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this. (It is also common practice for science funders to publish this information).
The foundation publishes any information about the results of any research that it funds.No
The foundation publishes information about any grant reporting requirements for its grantees.NoSuggestion via consultation.

Accountability

QuestionUsed in other ratings/rankings/ self-assessment tools/guidance?Other comments
The foundation publishes information on who its staff are on its website (this can be senior staff only or all staff).GlassPockets87.5% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
The foundation publishes information on who its trustees/board members are on its website.GlassPockets
The foundation cites any criteria on which its funding decisions are made.No87% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
If any funding decisions were made by an external panel, the foundation publishes the names of people sitting on the panel.No Suggested via consultation.
The foundation provides a mechanism to ask questions about funding.GlassPockets & ACF Transparency & EngagementSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.
The foundation offers accessible ways to get in contact (e.g., text relay, BSL or other).NoSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.
The foundation provides a mechanism for comments, complaints (feedback).BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Standards for Charity AccountabilitySeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.
The foundation publishes any feedback it receives from grant seekers and/or grantees.GlassPocketsSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.
The foundation publishes any actions it will take to address this feedback.NoWe decided to include so as to assess whether a foundation is holding itself accountable when it comes to acting on what feedback it receives.
The foundation provides a mechanism to report malpractice concerns (whistleblowing).GlassPocketsSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.
The foundation publishes any analysis of its own effectiveness. GlassPockets / BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Standards for Charity Accountability71% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
The foundation publishes some information of what they are doing differently as a consequence of this analysis.NoWe decided to include so as to assess whether a foundation is holding itself accountable when it comes to acting on what it learns about its own effectiveness.
The foundation cites any evidence that it has consulted the communities it seeks to support in determining its funding priorities.NoSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.

Diversity

QuestionUsed in other ratings/rankings/self-assessment tools/guidance?Other comments
The foundation publishes a breakdown of the diversity of its staff. (with respect to gender, ethnicity and disability only). GlassPockets / Racial Equality IndexSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this. N.B. We will measure diversity inclusive of: gender, ethnicity and disability, bearing in mind ACF’s Transparency and Engagement report and the type of criteria this project can reasonably measure.
The foundation publishes a plan with targets improve the diversity of its staff.Racial Equality Index
The foundation publishes information on any pay gaps (gender, ethnicity, disability).Racial Equality Index We will measure diversity inclusive of: gender, ethnicity and disability, as per the three areas of diversity that the EHRC provides pay gap guidance on.
The foundation publishes its pay policy.NoSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.
The foundation makes it possible to submit funding proposals in a range of different formats.NoSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.
The foundation has made a public commitment to be a Living Wage Employer.NoSuggestion via consultation.
The foundation states a policy of publishing salaries for any job advertisement.NoSuggestion via consultation.
The foundation publishes a breakdown of the diversity of its trustees/board members (with respect to gender, ethnicity and disability only).GlassPockets / Racial Equality Index74% of consultation respondents strongly agreed that it should be included.
The foundation publishes a plan with targets to improve the diversity of its board and/or trustees.Racial Equality Index
The foundation publishes its recruitment policy for board members.NoSeveral consultation respondents asked us to include this.

Eliminated criteria

We also omitted during the scoring process some criteria which proved unworkable, as described above. The table below shows these eliminated questions, the reason, and the stage at which they were eliminated.
QuestionReason for eliminationStage of elimination
Does the foundation fund any research (stand-alone research, not monitoring and evaluation of grantees that deliver services for other funding)?Very few foundations did ‘research’ and research was difficult to defineAfter benchmarking, before main data collection
If yes, write a brief description of the research they fund (e.g. ‘health’, ‘medical’, ‘environmental’ or other) or write ‘N/A’ if the foundation doesn’t fund research.Same as aboveSame as above
Does the foundation explicitly ask potential grantees not to contact them (e.g. statements such as ‘Please read the FAQs, we are too busy to answer the phone’)?This was a ‘negative’ question (this would have taken away points). Too subjective for accuracy in the data collectionScoring stage
If the foundation publishes a breakdown of the diversity of their staff, what is that breakdown?The original intention was to compare the reported diversity of staff to national or regional demographics of the foundation. This proved too difficult because of the wide range of communities served. Also very few reported the staff breakdownScoring stage. Eliminated from scoring, but data still collected
If the foundation publishes a breakdown of the diversity of their board/trustees, what is that breakdown?Same as aboveScoring stage. Eliminated from scoring, but data still collected
Does the foundation publish its pay policy (such as tax, sickness, holiday entitlement, maternity, paternity, shared parental leave or other)? ‘N/A’ if there are no staff.Could not reliably collect data on this, as it was only clear for foundations that had a live job advertisement during the assessment periodScoring stage