Foundation Practice Rating will enable the foundation world, for the first time, to be publicly accountable for the disclosure of its activities and the diversity of its leaders.

A rating system is not a ranking, meaning foundations will not be compared with each other.

Because it uses criteria defined by a wide body of stakeholders, FPR reveals the aspects of transparency, accountability and diversity that others feel are most important, and thereby helps foundations to focus their efforts on improving these facets of their activities. It is also based on best practice from other areas, such as the public and business sectors.

One of the main aims of the FPR is to encourage foundations to investigate the many good practice materials and supports that exist which can improve their performance and accountability. It also encourages a new dialogue about foundation best practices and decision-making.

This work is intended to complement initiatives such as the DEI Coalition, Future Foundations, and Funders for Race Equality. 

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How the rating system worked

Only UK-registered grant-making foundations have been rated. Entities where the funds are replenished by the government (e.g. the research councils) will not be included.

The sample of foundations that have been assessed have been drawn from the top 300 as identified by the ACF, combined with UK community foundations. The data used for the rating was gathered independently of the foundations, from publicly available sources.

FPR comprises a set of criteria against which each foundation is assessed by an independent assessor. It sets out in detail how each of the criteria can be met. FPR assess the three aspects of transparency, accountability and diversity. The criteria was based on those already used in other sectors, and what this sector feels is appropriate, drawing on the views of grantees, grant seekers and other stakeholders.

To minimize bias, two analysts gathered the information about a foundation independently and ‘blind’ of one another, with the foundations to be assessed randomly assigned to each analyst.

This technique is used in many areas of funding and academia. The rating and the background data will be published annually.


The three stages to creating the rating

1. Gathering the data – Data was gathered on the foundations using only publicly available information, specifically the foundations’ websites or the information provided on the relevant charity regulators’ websites (including the Annual report). Each foundation was assessed twice by two independent researchers. If there were any discrepancies in the two scores these were resolved through discussion and searching for missed information. The data was then sent to the foundations to check to ensure that it was accurate.

2. Scoring the data: Not all questions are relevant to every foundation. For example, a foundation that only funds by invitation does not need to publish its eligibility criteria. When a criterion is not relevant to a foundation, they were not scored on that criterion. Allowing these ‘exemptions’ means that the maximum score within a pillar varies between foundations. A foundation’s score for each pillar is then divided by the maximum possible score for it on that pillar, giving a percentage, which is the foundation’s final score on that pillar. The full list of exemptions can be accessed here.

3. Determining the rating: The foundation’s scores are converted into a grade. There are four grades – from A (the top) to D. Using four grades is based on UK public sector rating / quality assessment systems which often have four (e.g, Ofsted’s ratings of schools, HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ system and the Care Quality Commission’s system). The FPR reports each foundation’s grade on each pillar but not the numerical scores. This is to prevent a ranking being constructed from the data. The foundations are also awarded an overall score, which is the average of the pillar scores.



Who will carry out the assessment?

The research consultancy and think-tank Giving Evidence will carry out the assessment under the direction of philanthropy expert Caroline Fiennes.