Social Change

We fund work that contributes to a just and inclusive society at every level (individual, community and system). We believe that the best solutions are owned by and built for communities, so we fund them to thrive and deliver long term impact, whether by place or particular theme. We support work that removes barriers preventing marginalised and isolated people from participating and making a valuable contribution to society. Our funding also aims to protect and promote the rights of those who suffer the effects of systemic, cultural, and institutional injustice. 

Over the last five years, we have made £75.8 million of grants to work for social change, £15.7 million of which was in 2015.

Funding priorities:

  • Participation – marginalised and excluded individuals and groups

We believe that there are many people, including the increasing ageing population, with valuable contributions to make to their communities, workplaces and wider society. Often outside factors prevent them doing so - poor institutional practice, a lack of connections, taboos, isolation, prejudice or discrimination. We work with organisations that are led by these communities, overcoming the barriers to participation.

  • Place – revitalising community life

We fund independent organisations rooted in their community.  They are best placed to identify and channel the potential of an area. They can exploit opportunities for coordinated community action and make the best of their connections with other agencies.  These organisations are based in economically marginalised, isolated communities and/or work with a particular group of excluded or vulnerable people. They are the driving force or ‘anchor’ for that community, providing stability, identity and the potential for renewal. They create the conditions where people themselves generate ideas and activities. With their communities, they encourage active citizenship, ownership and participation to remove barriers to social exclusion and poverty. In particular, we look at less predictable and practical ways of anchoring communities such as village shops, arts, food, community transport and energy.

  • Injustice – systemic change around injustice and inequality

We aim to raise awareness of issues or uncomfortable viewpoints about unfairness for particular sectors of society. These issues are often complex, divisive, entrenched, unpopular and uncomfortable. They can be characterised by silence, social pressure and a lack of understanding. We support organisations that protect the rights of people who are more vulnerable to popular prejudice, harmful action or inaction by public authorities. They will routinely identify principles and practical measures that will guide and result in reform.

We look for work that strengthens democratic, representative and transparent institutions. We support programmes led by expert, tenacious and fearless people who can articulate what is needed. We are looking for a commitment to evidence and rational debate with realistic outcomes that are likely to make change a possibility.

As a result of funding, we hope to see:

  • Ownership and voice for those who are not heard in the process of change.
  • Greater understanding and momentum around an issue or a constituency group.
  • Greater opportunities and potential for those in the most neglected communities.
  • Change in culture and systems through engagement with decision makers, as well as change in broader attitudes and behaviours.
  • Ambitious, long term plans, underpinned by practical improvements and steps towards reform or renewal.