Meeting 12 – 23/7/21


  1. Introductions and Updates
  2. Feedback on and discussion about meetings with ACF and ACO
  3. Thinking on accountability and apology (see attachments)
  4. Wrap up and next meetings

1. Introductions and Updates

We welcomed Nick Crofts, CEO of The Co-op Foundation, to our group and his first meeting.

We introduced ourselves with Joe and Celia giving a more in-depth update.

Joe – Buttle UK:

Buttle provides grants to individuals (up to £2,000), directed specifically at children and families in crisis. This provides significant, valuable data. Buttle then works with other partners using this data to fuel evidence, learning and influence.

EDI strategy has a primary focus on anti-racism. Training for staff and Trustees is starting in Sept. All bar one are attending the first session – which is excellent take up. The content will initially include anti-racism, inclusive recruitment, equality assessment training.

This represents an important focus on the basics. It cannot just be for this year – it will continue into the future, eg, how does Joe weave this into Buttle’s new staff/trustee induction programme.

Buttle is recruiting five new Trustees (out of 11) over the next two years – two in October 2021 and then the rest the year after that. The process will include shadowing opportunities and Getting On Board inclusive recruitment training.

Historically, Buttle’s data collection on ethnicity had been on the parent/carer rather than the child – so, as Buttle is a children’s charity, this needed to change. Buttle’s working group has looked at the application process from an anti-racism and then broader EDI lens. It also involves assessing partners’ processes and activities.

Joe now wants to go further on use of data. Celia had shared the taxonomy of the racial equity group of 360 Giving (focused on grants to organisations), which provided useful learning for grant making but highlighted there is a challenge for individual grantmakers to collectively pool our data to understand how to improve our support for under-supported groups.

Buttle has done run an equity audit internally which will usefully inform the externally-run equity audit that they are now considering to build on work to date.

Joe is now reflecting on how he can challenge externally on anti-racism more and feels this will focus on working alongside other individual grantmaking organisations.

Celia – Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT):

Much has happened since JRCT’s statement on Rowntree origins of wealth in April 2021. This was an important acknowledgement, apology and offered a programme of reparation. For JRCT this has meant a restorative justice programme.

Celia has since had six rounds of meetings with 150 grantees (two exclusively for people of colour). This was the first space JRCT had opened up for proper accountability – it was important and hard. It generated significant learning and fairly fundamental, existential challenges around design, governance, delivery – particularly with an almost exclusively white Quaker board.

JRCT has now had two board meetings to reflect on the feedback and learning. As a result it is now putting the equity infrastructure in place to manage what it now needs to do.

The Board has just agreed to a four part infrastructure paper covering:

  • A public commitment to existing 10 year programme (to 2028), which will not preclude consideration of how the rest of the endowment is used during this time;
  • Trustees and staff commitment that anyone with decision making power on the use of endowment will commit to a personal anti-racism development programme;
  • A substantial package of wellbeing and support for everyone, particularly colleagues of colour, recognising the emotional labour and importance of safety and protection s;
  • Establishing an interim working group of Trustees, staff, grant advisors and independent experts, to create the framework for the Trust’s restorative justice work, including the staffing, external advisory group, process design and  accountability mechanisms.

Together these elements should mean JRCT has built a solid work plan for the rest of the year in response to the learning from the six grantee accountability sessions.

Nick – Co-op Foundation:

Nick took up the Chief Executive role at Co-op at the beginning of the year. He is new to grant making, having had a career in politics and business before this. He has been an elected Co-op member for decades and was President of the Co-operative Members’ Group for five years.

There is a desire for the charitable arm to leverage the relationship with the business better. It was important for the new CEO to be someone who ‘spoke fluent Co-op’.

Nick’s emerging priorities are:

  • Offering a more co-operative approach to grant making – so a ‘hand up’ not ‘hand out’ approach (co-operation being different to philanthropy)
  • Aligning thematically with The Co-op’s broader ambitions to change the world. It has a real pedigree in social justice issues:
    • eg, Rochdale giving democratic rights to women from the beginning in mid C19.
    • eg, despite strong trading links to southern states, refusing to buy cotton during American Civil War – even knowing it would cause real financial harm to the mill towns of its members the North West.
  • Specifically focusing on racial justice. After murder of George Floyd, Steve Murrells (CEO, The Co-op Group) was the first business CEO to take a public stand. An expert panel of people of colour defined the anti-racism charter businesses should adopt.
  • The Foundation gives away c.£6 million p.a. and is now working out how to advance anti-racism through its strategy and programmes.

2. Feedback on Discussions with ACF and ACO

Mark reported that the meeting with Carol Mack, CEO of the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) went well. It covered three elements:

  • Conference: we have focused on proposing a session which brings together anti-racism and place-based grant making to fit with ACF’s inclusive communities theme
  • Membership: Carol was interested in the idea of catalysing other groups of foundation CEOs to come together based on what has been established through the Just Foundations Initiative. This would involve capturing our methodology and the culture/ethos/values of the group (Celia noted how important it is to capture the latter in any codification). Nick suggested one of the JFI group hiving off to join a newly forming group to offer the replicability. This would mean the spin off group would imbibe the culture of the original.
  • Communications: we would look to produce articles and thought pieces on our anti-racism efforts (including mistakes/learning) in Trust and Foundation News, also blogs for ACF’s website. Mark has offered to kick this off with a blog on accountability.

Joe and Paul met Donal Watkins, CEO of the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO). ACO’s membership is organisations making grants to individuals (benevolent organisations). It was a very positive discussion, covering:

  • ACO CEO groups forming around anti-racism
  • Proposing a session to the membership with Joe and Paul sharing their experience.
  • Confirming the importance of separating out anti-racism from broader EDI efforts.
  • Stressing the importance of this being a peer-peer led group, not a centrally driven process from ACO.
  • Penny of Getting on Board is running an ACO session in early Oct – this will enable Joe and Paul to briefly introduce their idea for a follow up session a month later (early Nov).
  • Underling the importance of CEO peer groups having a monthly, not quarterly, cadence for a sense of dynamism (momentum) and accountability.
  • Taxonomy of data for ACO members:
  • Buttle has done a lot of work around data capture and management for anti-racism. Buttle would like to see a push for change across all ACO organisations. Joe could present this work to CEOs, but it would be difficult to get the traction and manage the follow up because there is no equivalent organisation to 360 Giving.
  • ACO members hand out £460 million each year to individuals, which is really significant. Individually Buttle cannot do it and collectively there aren’t the resources. 360 Giving is also separate, focused on grants to organisations.
  • Despite these challenges, Joe is committed to try to make something happen. To kick this off, it would make sense for him to speak to 360 Giving about what might be needed. Joe will connect to Fran Perrin and Tania Cohen directly on this.

Barnwood has just joined ACO and Sally will also be supportive of Joe and Paul’s efforts.

3. Accountability on Anti-Racism: what does this mean for JFI?

The group recognises that accountability is fundamental for our anti-racism efforts to work. It has to be substantive and drive sector and organisational change. We need to do more than offer a series of confessionals from nine foundation CEOs.

The Mia Mingus framework for accountability provides an excellent model for how we can collectively and individually be accountable in our anti-racism efforts

  • Sally recognised the significance of starting with self-reflection and to focus this on the culture and essence of the organisation and of each person, rather than the transactional and procedural elements. In Barnwood, this has led to everyone doing their MBTI profiles and this is developing a shared language for self-reflection. This underlines the importance of being able to talk about self, and of the approach being relational.
  • Joe recognised that he can jump from self-reflection to change behaviour without going through apology and repair. The model enables him to explore that with his Chair and Trustees – and for that to be a challenging conversation.
  • Celia had seen the model before and used it to guide the JRCT statement on origins of wealth. One important lesson she has learnt is to work through what the likely obstacles to change are going to be before jumping to action – so that these can be anticipated and addressed.
  • James recognised the importance of accountability being generative, not punitive – and that one goes through the whole process, not rushing to the last step. Building on this, it would be good to expand our accountability as a group.
  • James is in touch with Ciorsdan of the Grant Givers Movement on them joining a JFI session and being encouraged to hold us to account. Similarly, Mark offered approach Emeka Forbes of CharitySoWhite whom he had met in July.
  • We agreed James will approach Ciorsdan for next session.
  • We agreed that we should find a way of paying for the costs of the time they spend in conversation with us.

4. Next Meetings:

  • 1pm on 3rd Sept: James chairing; Joe note taking (assuming Grant Givers Movement can join).
  • 1pm at 1st Oct: Mark chairing; James note taking (assuming Emeka can join)
  • Sally will set up Zooms and James will let everyone know (done).

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