Staff and Trustee Diversity Data of UK Grant-Making Foundations, Foundation Practice Rating Year Two Report

Very few UK charitable foundations disclose the diversity of either their staff or their boards, according to research by Giving Evidence the research partner for the Foundation Practice Rating (FPR). Of the 100 foundations included in the FPR in 2022-23, only six disclose the diversity of their staff, and only six disclose the diversity of their trustees. In total, nine of the 100 foundations disclose data on either staff or trustees.

Why does Foundation Practice Rating research this?

The FPR researches 100 foundations each year. The process for selecting those 100 foundations is discussed here. The research covers three pillars: diversity, accountability and transparency. In diversity, FPR (currently) looks at whether foundations disclose the diversity of their staff and, separately, their trustees, on various dimensions. FPR does not currently look at what that diversity is.

Nonetheless, during the FPR research, the FPR team notes which of those 100 foundations make those disclosures. It is only a small step for us to then log and collate their actual data on what the diversity is, and so – despite this being outside FPR’s scope – we have done this.

To our knowledge, these are the first data about diversity of UK foundations to be published, so we share them here in the hope that it is a useful contribution to the discussion. We intend to track these data over time, in order to show whether and how the diversity of UK foundations’ teams is changing.

The data about diversity of UK foundations’ personnel were gathered in autumn 2022 using the most recent materials published by the foundations at that time.

The foundations which disclose diversity of their personnel

The foundations that disclose these diversity data are:

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation*
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation*
Walcot Educational Foundation
Walcot Educational Foundation
Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust*
Barrow Cadbury Trust*
Blagrave Trust*
 Garfield Weston Foundation 
John Ellerman Foundation*
Power to Change*
The Wellcome Trust

*Members of the funders group

We believe that there is a pressing need for more UK foundations to publish data about the diversity of their staff and boards, in order to support steps towards greater progress and diversity.

We noted where a foundation disclosed diversity of its staff and/or trustees on the following four dimensions. Note that: (a) we used the foundation’s own wording and categorisations; and (b) to make the graphs legible, the graphs show only one data-point on each category:

  • Ethnicity (the graph shows people whom the foundation reported identify as something ‘other than white’)
  • Gender (‘other than male/man’)
  • Sexual orientation (‘other than straight sexual orientation’)
  • Disability (self-declared as having a disability)

Not all foundations reported their data in all four of these categories.

We excluded (from the numerator of the figures in the graphs) responses such as “prefer not to say” and show only data provided by individuals who disclosed their characteristics.

We are aware of the limitations of this approach – simply collating foundations’ disclosures in the way that they are reported – but hope that these data are useful nonetheless.

Some Key Findings

Race: Racial diversity exhibited significant variation among the foundations that shared data in this category. The percentage of individuals identifying as a race other than white varied greatly: from zero to above 60%. For instance, on trustees, Blagrave Trust reported that over 60% of its trustees identify as non-white, whereas the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust reported 0% in this category. On staff, there was also variation, but a noticeable concentration around the range of 30% to 40%.

Gender Diversity: The information on gender diversity highlights the proportion of individuals who do not identify as male within the foundations that provided data in this regard. This category includes individuals who identify as women, non-binary, or another gender. Among the foundations that reported this data, there was a significant representation in the “other than male” category.

Sexual Orientation: Sexual orientation was the characteristic on which fewest foundations reported: only three foundations disclose information about this for trustees, and only one foundation disclosed this data for staff. It is worth noting that there is an ongoing debate within the sector regarding whether or not sexual orientation should be disclosed. This debate primarily concerns protecting individuals from potential harm that may arise from such disclosure versus liberation and challenging heteronormative practices.

Disability: Disability disclosure was also quite surprisingly low, considering 17% of the UK population is disabled (Census, 2023).

Staff diversity: one foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, splits its staff diversity data by type of staff. This allows for a more granular understanding of diversity within the foundations. The graphs show the split reported by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Conclusion: The data presented provides a snapshot of:

  • The amount of diversity reporting by UK grant-making foundations, which is disappointingly little, and
  • The reported diversity of staff and trustees in those foundations who do disclose it.

We hope that these findings contribute to the ongoing conversation around diversity and inclusion within the grant-making sector, and help to promote more disclosure and encouraging further exploration of diversity-related initiatives.

“While limited to a subset of 9, this report serves as a starting point, shedding light on the representation of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. By embracing transparency and sharing this information, we spark a conversation that paves the way for inclusion. Let these findings be the catalyst that inspires exploration and fuels the drive towards a more diverse and equitable grant-making sector.”

Jake Furby, Communications Manager, Friends Provident Foundation.

You can access this paper as a PDF or Word document.

Notes for editors:

The Foundation Practice Rating is an independent assessment of UK grant-making charitable foundations. It assesses foundations’ practices on diversity, accountability and transparency, and does so using only their public materials. It is funded by 10 UK foundations, and is repeated annually. The sample of 100 foundations comprises: the 10 foundations who fund it, the UK’s five largest foundations, and the rest are selected randomly. Foundations have no choice of whether they are included. The criteria are based on precedent elsewhere, and a public consultation. They do not assess what a foundation funds, nor its effectiveness as such. Each foundation is rated A (top), B, C, or D on each of the three domains, and is also given an overall rating. More information is at


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