Although there is nothing new about policy oriented work by foundations, relatively few UK foundations explicitly aim to have an impact on policy and practice beyond their immediate grantees. However, there is growing interest in social change and policy oriented approaches, and many foundations are re-considering both their role and influence, and their relationship with government. The report considers the advantages of foundations' contributions to policy debate in terms of impact and sustainability, goes through the arguments for and against policy involvement and outlines the policy process. Drawing on previous studies of policy oriented foundations, the key characteristics of such foundations and their practices are discussed. These characteristics are illustrated and expanded in a more detailed exploration of the approaches of the Rowntree trusts. This comparison highlights the variety of approaches to stimulating policy debate, as well as the ways in which these approaches differ from 'mainstream' foundation practices. The report provides discussion and practical illustration of policy engagement in action.
Published at a time when many foundations are re-considering both their role and influence, and their relationship with government, it will be of interest to all foundations considering ways in which they can achieve sustainable impact beyond their immediate grantees.
Diana Leat, PhD, is an independent consultant and a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, Cass Business School. Diana has held research and teaching posts in a number of universities and research centres in the UK, the US and Australia. She is the author of over 90 articles and books on the non-profit sector and social policy. One of her most recent publications is an analysis of risk in grant making, commissioned by the Big Lottery Fund in the UK. Her forthcoming publications include a study of creative philanthropy in action to be published by Routledge, and a study of UK foundations' roles and visions as part of the LSE Centre for Civil Society study of Roles and Visions of Foundations in Europe. Diana is a trustee of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund in the UK.