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Foundation giving includes all the organisations in the grantmaker category. These are organisations which are commonly registered charities, although they don’t have to be, whose primary purpose is charitable grantmaking. They range from very small trusts, sometimes created in memory of someone, to some of the largest grantmakers in the country like Wellcome Trust.

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The grantmakers category represents the vast majority (93%) of known organisations in the overall profile of UK Grantmaking and 31% of the overall grant amounts distributed – but within this, there is a great deal of diversity in the size and types of organisations and the nature of grants made.

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Note that it may be difficult to directly read trends in these totals as some organisations may not have had data available for both years. Overall percentage change is calculated for organisations that have both current and previous year figures. Trends are explored in more detail below.

Family foundations

Family foundations have been funded principally by the personal gift of an individual donor, family members or a family business, whether they have a living family member on the Board or not. 273 family foundations were identified in the data – although there may be more as low levels of grantmaking could not be investigated individually and are recorded in the general grantmaker segment instead. We have focused on the 100 organisations with the largest amount of grantmaking, and where more information is available about the organisations.

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Total grantmaking of the 100 largest foundations decreased by less than 1% overall which is -9% in real terms (when adjusted for inflation) – but this decrease was not universal across organisations. 

30 funders decreased their funding – four of them by over £10 million each (Leverhulme Trust, Arcadia, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and The Rhodes Trust), and one, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK) decreased grantmaking by over £200m, with the majority of the decrease in a single programme.

69 funders increased their funding – eight of them by over £10m each: Betty Messenger Charitable Foundation, CH Foundation (UK), Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Law Family Charitable Foundation, Lempriere Pringle 2015, Michael Uren Foundation, This Day Foundation, Yusuf and Farida Hamied Foundation.

Excluding Children’s Investment Fund Foundation there was a 18% increase in grantmaking or 7% in real terms.

Income is no longer a useful metric for family foundations now that more have moved to total return investment approaches and there is a blurred line between income and endowments. As well as general increases in income, there were significant contributions in income to Gatsby Foundation (£75m gift from the settlor) and CH Foundation (additional donations of £59m above the previous year) which contributed to the higher overall increase.

Three organisations recorded decreases in net assets of over £100m, impacting the overall picture: Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Moondance Foundation.

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It should be noted that Wellcome Trust is technically a family foundation but has been recorded separately due to its large scale, with net assets worth more than the largest 100 family foundations put together distorting underlying trends. Wellcome Trust saw larger increases in grantmaking and income than the overall largest 100 family foundations.

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Corporate foundations

Corporate foundations are generally charitable foundations established and funded by the corporate sector, through company endowments, covenants or annual gifts. The structures and associations between corporate foundations and their parent company vary greatly. 

This section focuses on the largest 50 corporate foundations, but like the family foundations, there are likely to be others that are small or less identifiable in the data. An additional challenge is where the foundation is not independently registered and does not produce its own accounts. In these cases only the grantmaking figures have been recorded.

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While there were a number of increases, six foundations more than doubled their grantmaking expenditure during these periods with increases of over £10m. Quadrature Climate Foundation from £54m to £121m, Johnson and Johnson Foundation Scotland from £9m to £29m, Vodafone Foundation from £6m to £17m, Lloyds Register Foundation and Motability from £3m to £15m and Fondation Chanel from £0.8m to £11m.

The largest contributor to the growth in employees was Motability (increase of 44) reflecting their growth in grantmaking and operational support activities.

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Fundraising foundations

Fundraising foundations are grantmakers whose main income is derived from fundraising, generally from the public such as major appeals.

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Grantmaking was down by 1.4% or 10% in real terms. This partially reflected exceptional funds and grants in 2021-22 as part of the pandemic response such as DCMS match funds. Comic Relief grantmaking decreased by £40m while NHS Charities Together was down by £26m. BBC Children in Need increased grantmaking by £12m.

Income increases, where there were increases, were generally lower than inflation. In addition, Comic Relief income decreased by £24m, impacting the overall picture.

The largest 50 fundraising grantmakers includes 20 Postcode Lottery distributors. These organisations distributed £178m in 2022-23, a 35% increase on the previous year.

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Member/trade funded

Member and trade funded grantmakers are either currently funded by members/trade bodies or were historically endowed by them. This includes benevolent funds and livery companies. Over 1,000 organisations were identified, but the vast majority are very small organisations with limited information available. Again, we will focus on the 50 organisations with the largest grantmaking expenditure.

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Grantmaking increased by just 2% – a real terms decrease of 7%. The increase can be attributed to the Football Foundation which increased grantmaking by £26m in the period to £96m. Excluding the Football Foundation, there has been a decrease of 10% or 19% in real terms. The majority of funders in this segment saw decreases in grantmaking.

The majority of funders in the largest 50 saw increases in income of 25%, a real terms increase of 14% with the largest increases from The Clothworkers Foundation (increase of £68m), the Football Foundation (increase of £36m) and Gambleaware (increase of £13m). However net assets reduced by 5% (14% in real terms).

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General foundations

General foundations are the remaining foundations which don’t meet the criteria for the other groups. There are over 10,000 organisations, the majority of which are very small with limited information available on them. Even the 100 largest organisations are diverse in size and nature.

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There has been a substantial increase in grantmaking overall for this segment by over £300m- with the largest four grantmakers (by grantmaking spend) increasing grantmaking by over £25m each in the period: Henry Smith Charity (£25m), City Bridge Foundation (£30m), Sequoia Trust (£52m) and Surgo Foundation (£51m). Other large increases include The National Assistance Fund (£25m) and The Health Foundation (£20m). 

Four of the same organisations recorded substantial decreases in net assets such as Henry Smith Charity (£165m), City Bridge Foundation (£107m), Surgo Foundation (£65m) and the Health Foundation (£72m) – although Sequoia Trust recorded an increase in net assets of £161m and the National Assistance Fund of £4m. 

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Foundation giving largest 300

It is interesting to see these largest 300 foundation segments together. The largest 300 of these trusts and foundations provided grants of over £5 billion, which unadjusted for inflation is a 14% increase from 2021-22 and a real terms increase of 3%. Excluding Wellcome Trust, grants to the value of £4.2bn were distributed, with a similar percentage increase as reported above.

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Examining the ten largest grant spending organisations, it is interesting to note that six are family foundations.

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In the sections above we have looked at the trends in assets of these organisations over a one year period, however the nature of many of these foundations is the focus on the long-term view, with some having held and developed these assets for decades, if not centuries.

An endowment is a financial asset, typically in the form of an investment fund, which is established by a charitable foundation or organisation to provide a long-term, stable source of income for its activities and operations. The principal amount of the endowment is usually preserved, while the income generated from the investments is used to support the foundation’s objectives and grantmaking – although many foundations also have what is known as an expendable endowment which allows them to use the endowment more flexibly in furtherance of the charitable objectives without preserving it or focusing on the accumulation of assets to generate future income. This can include ‘spending down’ to close the organisation down rather than requiring it to exist in perpetuity, or making social investments where income returns may be lower or non-existent. 

To consider this longer-term picture, we have looked at the five-year trends of the 100 organisations with the largest endowments – noting that changes in endowment values are a reflection of the performance of the investment of the assets AND the strategy of the organisation which may include distributing the assets through grantmaking to communities and causes.

The total value of the largest 100 endowments in 2022-23 was £45.7bn excluding Wellcome Trust and £80.3bn including Wellcome.

As there were some newly created organisations, or newly donated endowment funds during the period, we have considered the trends of only the organisations with an endowment over the whole five-year period.


Endowment levels have remained relatively flat in recent years, representing a real-terms decline in value. For those with March financial year ends, there was a temporary dip at the end of 2019-20 reflecting the impact of the uncertainty of the pandemic on market values in March 2020, but this quickly returned in 2020-21. The change between the years is partially a consequence of the year end snapshot timing rather than a reflection of underlying performance. Nevertheless, the high inflation in recent years has had an impact, with growth in endowment values not sustained at these high rates, representing an erosion overall. 

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New foundations

Three new foundations entered the largest grantmakers list in 2022-23 in their first year of grantmaking.

Mission 44

Mission 44 was created by Sir Lewis Hamilton, whose upbringing and experience as the only
person of colour in his field has left him determined to build a fairer, more inclusive future for young people. The name is a reference to his racing car number.

£3.5m was distributed to support education, employment and empowerment of young people. They have already published their grants using the 360Giving Data Standard which can be viewed on GrantNav.

Aurum Kaleidoscope Foundation

Aurum is a hedge fund investment specialist and donates to the foundation from advisor fees. The foundation supports environmental and humanitarian charities, in line with the company’s ESG objectives.

£2.9m was distributed in 2022-23.

Squarepoint Foundation

The foundation receives donations from the Squarepoint Group, an international investment management firm and is particularly interested in advancing research and education in STEM fields.

£2.2m was distributed in 2022-23.


There were also a few newer foundations that were in their second year of grantmaking in 2022-23 and substantially increased their grantmaking

  • This Day Foundation (family foundation): £19m
  • Fondation Chanel (corporate foundation): £11m

Over 100 new foundations were registered in 2021 and 2022 and some may move into the largest foundations lists in future years.

ACF members

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) is the membership association for foundations and independent grantmakers in the UK. Their purpose is to strengthen trusts and foundations so they can rise to the challenges of our times and they do this through the provision of policy and advocacy, research and information, and a wide-ranging programme of events and learning. In 2022-23 the largest 200 members collectively held assets of around £75bn and distributed grants of £4.32bn. In addition, it supported 170 collaborative projects between funders on the Funders Collaborative Hub.

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The view from ACF

ACF Logo with their name over transparent teardrop shapes in muted colours

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) is the leading membership organisation for foundations and independent grant-makers in the UK. We believe that the foundation model of philanthropy is vital in addressing societal challenges and fostering positive change.

The challenges facing foundations in 2022-23 were significant. Emerging from the pandemic, they contended with the cost-of-living crisis and heightened inflation. Given the heightened spending levels from foundations during the pandemic, the increased grantmaking spend from the largest 300 grantmakers highlights the sector’s resilience and the foundations’ dedication to supporting the communities and causes they serve.

Grant spending varies between and within the different categories of foundation. The largest category on UKGrantmaking – general grantmakers – saw the largest 100 grantmakers provide a strong increase in grant spending (36%) compared to 2021-22, despite a slight decrease in income. This suggests a commitment to maintaining and increasing grant distributions, including drawing from reserves or other funding sources to cover shortfalls.

Though the family foundations category saw a decrease in spending despite overall increased income, income may not be the most relevant metric for family foundations. Many foundations in this category have adopted total return investment strategies, which blur the distinction between income and endowments.

ACF’s 450+ members account for over 70% of the total spent on grantmaking in 2022-23. Our new narrative report, Foundations in Focus, provides valuable qualitative insights from a diverse sample of our members to help contextualise the data provided on this platform. A theme throughout our member engagement for 2022-23 was that their grantmaking was affected by increased demand. Many noted a higher volume of requests, specifically for higher value grants, due to the significant financial challenges facing the organisations they support.

ACF members also talked about the innovative ways in which they responded to the rising need of their grantholders. These included making their grantmaking approach more flexible, such as pivoting to core grants and refining their funding focus to become more targeted in the work they fund. Many also provided cost-of-living uplifts for grantholders, despite challenging financial circumstances.

We are delighted to be a partner on the UKGrantmaking platform and strongly believe that more open, transparent data on grantmaking and the foundation sector can enhance trust, facilitate decision-making and ultimately drive more effective philanthropy. It is also an opportunity to highlight and showcase the vital contribution foundations make to wider society by addressing pressing issues and supporting communities in need.