Results Analysed


The following graphs show a breakdown of the scores for the assessed foundations.

Number of foundations achieving each rating –
both overall, and within each pillar.

Overall Rating


This graph illustrates a breakdown of how the assessed foundations faired overall.

  • 3 foundations got an A.
  • 41 foundations got a B.
  • 28 foundations got a C.
  • 28 foundations got a D.

This graph illustrates a breakdown of how the assessed foundations faired on the transparency pillar.

  • 51 foundations got an A.
  • 15 foundations got a B.
  • 9 foundations got a C.
  • 26 foundations got a D.



This graph illustrates a breakdown of how the assessed foundations faired on the diversity pillar.

  • No foundation got an A.
  • 3 foundations got a B.
  • 52 foundations got a C.
  • 45 foundations got a D.

This graph illustrates a breakdown of how the assessed foundations faired on the accountability pillar.

  • 18 foundations got an A.
  • 17 foundations got a B.
  • 31 foundations got a C.
  • 34 foundations got a D.

Foundations which scored A’s overall

Only three foundations achieved an overall rating of A: the Wellcome Trust, the Blagrave Trust, and the County Durham Community Foundation. A first observation is how varied those three are: one is the largest foundation in Europe, with assets of £24 billion; one has assets of around £42 million; and one is a fundraising community foundation, which is around the middle of the sample by giving budget size. This suggests that good practice is not dependent on any one structure or size.




Foundations which scored B’s overall

41 foundations got a B overall. All those who got a B overall only achieved a C grade in the Diversity pillar. The other two pillars were different. For accountability: 37% of the foundations scored A, 34% scored B and 29% scored C. For transparency: 95% of foundations scored an A and 5% scored a B – this illustrates that foundations are generally good at being transparent.




Foundations which scored C’s overall

28 foundations scored a C overall. Most foundations in this bracket scored a D in diversity, again illustrating the work the sector has to do to improve on diversity. Accountability and transparency had a mixture of different scores. For accountability, the most common grade is C, and for transparency, the most common grade was a B.




Foundations which scored D’s overall

The last graph shows those who scored a D and its breakdown.  28 foundations overall got a D grade. All foundations in this group got a D on diversity. Additionally, most of the foundations got a D in accountability and transparency.




These graphs illustrate that most foundations are pretty consistent in their practice: few are great at some things and very poor at others. Similiarly, those foundations that achieved A overall scored B on diveristy; and that those that scored D overall did marginally better on accessibility and transparency than they did on diversity.

A main finding is that practice on diversity is weaker than practice on the other pillars. No foundation scored A on diversity, whereas many of the foundations were rated A on the other two pillars: 51 for transparency and 18 for accountability. This can also be seen by looking at the average scores across all 100 foundations on each pillar (Figure 6): the average grade for transparency is B, for accountability C, but for diversity it is a D.



Foundations scoring zero in each pillar

Some foundations scored 0. Unsurprisingly, diversity had the highest amount of 0 scores (16). 4 foundations scored 0 on transparency.

Questions on which the foundations collectively scored highest

Does the foundation have an investment policy?


As mentioned earlier, this is a legal requirement for some foundations, although not all.

Does the foundation publish who its staff are on its website (this can be senior staff only or all staff, either is a ‘yes’)? N/A if they have no staff, this can usually be verified on the relevant charity regulator’s website.
Is there contact information provided on the foundation’s website? If the foundation has no website the answer is ‘no’.
Does the foundation give any information on who or what it funded?
The number of items of information provided about the awarded grants? a) name of grantee, b) award date, c) description/title, d) amount awarded and/or e) duration.
Does the foundation have a website?
Can you navigate the foundation’s website using only the keyboard (without a mouse)? If the foundation doesn’t have a website, enter ‘no’.

The number of items stated in a foundation’s investment policy (maximum of eight).


Section 4.3 of the Charity Commission’s guidance about investment policies cites eight elements that an investment policy should cover:

Does the foundation publish on its website any information about its funding priorities?

Does the foundation state how to apply for funding? 

Questions on which the foundations collectively scored lowest

Does the foundation publish a breakdown of the diversity of its trustees/board members? (with respect to gender, ethnicity and disability only).


We used those three dimensions because those are the three on which the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission provides advice on how employers can measure and report on pay gaps (

The number of ways given for contacting the foundation concerning malpractice. e.g. email, phone number, on-line form, mailing address web-chat, BSL, text relay, or any others.
The items included in the foundation’s plan to improve the diversity of its trustees/board members, e.g. targets for women, BAME staff, LGBTQIA+ and/or disabled trustees.

If the foundation funds recipients in Wales, is a Welsh language format provided? ‘N/A’ if the foundation does not have a presence in Wales.

Does the foundation’s plan to improve the diversity of its staff include specific, numerical targets?

Does the foundation’s plan to improve the diversity of its trustees/board members include specific, numerical targets?

The items included in the foundation’s plan to improve the diversity of its staff, e.g., targets for women, BAME staff, LGBTQIA+ and/or disabled staff?
The number of ways that the foundation gives to contact it if you are disabled? (text relay, BSL or other)
Is there a mechanism to report malpractice concerns? (whistleblowing)?

Examples of particularly good practice 

An appeals process for rejected applicants. (The research team had never even heard of a foundation having this!)County Durham Community Foundation
Easy to expand the font on the whole website. There are easy-to-find buttons atop the website that expand the font on all of its pages.Cumbria Community Foundation
Website contains accessibility tools, equipped with ReciteMe plug-in.[i]Lankelly Chase Foundation
Extensive information on contact for disabled users, with assistive technology, and including a £500 bursary for those needing help with applications.Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Good, clear presentation of funding priorities in various formats – PDF, video and slideshow.Lloyd’s Register Foundation
Complaint policy includes introduction; definition of a complaint; acknowledgement of complaint receipt; investigation; second stage investigation; and final stage investigation.Berkshire Community Foundation
Feedback/complaints form includes who to contact and how; how it will respond; timing; and a confidentiality statement.Islamic Aid
Each fund has a pdf of applicant guidelines that covers funding priorities.Drapers’ Charitable Fund
Impact Report 2020 and Gardens and Coronavirus 2020 report contain good analysis of effectiveness.National Gardens Scheme Charitable Trust
Contact details provided for all the grant team members in all regions of operation.Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales
Pay gap data provided by a relatively small foundation (it was exempted from this criterion in the scoring).Barrow Cadbury Trust
Provides very clear evidence about how it increased the type and range of grants in order to address the concerns that arose from its own impact analysis.Clergy Support Trust