Towards an agenda for action on racial justice for foundation chief executives:
Black people and people of colour have been clear about the changes they wish to see from funders and the wider voluntary sector, as set out in the following documents:
Fozia Irfan: Neo-colonial philanthropy in the UK
As a group of foundation chief executives, our understanding of these calls for urgent change within charities – including trusts and foundations – is summarised as follows:
- Reflection and learning: Have candid and open conversations on race and anti-racism, and how it manifests within your organisation. This could also be framed within a wider consideration of questions of power and privilege.
- Acknowledgement: Publicly acknowledge racism and the impacts of colonialism in your organisation and within the wider sector and your responsibility for tackling it.
- Change: Commit to tackling racism and supporting anti-racism across the following dimensions:
- Within your organisation structures – shift who holds power in your organisation, increase the agency of people with lived experience in relation to key decisions, and improve the ways in which people of colour are supported in your organisation. Consider what work you would need to do to become an anti-racist organisation and then take that work forward.
- In your grant-making – increase the amounts of money given to organisations led by people of colour, and the amounts of money committed for work that supports racial justice. Consider how a commitment to racial justice could be integrated into all grant-making programmes in whatever form your grant giving takes.
- In your investments – understand how current investment strategies and practices reinforce systemic racialised injustice. Increase opportunities for people of colour and racialised communities to be part of the overhauling of these strategies, with the goals of investing in companies with strong commitments to environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, and ultimately more equitable distribution of wealth.
- In the sector – consider how you can use your organisational influence to encourage action by others.
- Accountability – build relationships with racialised communities, being explicit about your commitments to change and creating opportunities to hear and take action on their feedback.
The purpose of the Just Foundations Initiative is to deeply understand and engage with this Agenda for Action and to respond to it as ambitiously, collaboratively and accountably as we can.
The Just Foundations Initiative is a small group of Chief Executives working in charitable foundations in the UK. We have come together in a personal capacity to exchange practical experience, ideas and challenges with regard to our role as leaders in promoting racial justice within our foundations and the foundation sector more broadly.
We recognise the responsibility that white people, and particularly white people in leadership positions, have for taking overdue action on these issues.
We are meeting on a regular basis to discuss how we can use the positions we hold and the power we have to help to create positive change.