Executive Summary

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Executive Summary

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter brought to the fore the inequity that blights our society. In this moment of reckoning, communities facing the harshest injustices took the lead. Their passion and protest forced us to sit up and listen. 

Funders promised to respond by diverting more and better money to the grassroots movements tackling the root causes of injustice. Historic and present evidence made it clear that this is the only route to win the deep, systemic change our current crises require.[1]

In commissioning Funding Justice 2, we were keen to understand whether this shift in funder discourse represented a shift in funder practice.

Funding Justice 2 repeats much of the analysis in Funding Justice 1, published last year, but we have looked at giving in 2021/2022 that took place immediately after this crucial moment. 

We have also looked at a much wider range of grants and funders and tried to bring greater depth to the question of where social justice grantmaking goes.  

Funder words and action are misaligned. 

Funding Justice 2 analysed over £950 million worth of grants. It found that just: 

  • 5.7% of UK foundation giving in 2021/22 went towards work to tackle injustice. 
  • 0.3% of UK foundation giving in 2021/22 went towards building people power through organising. 

This is despite growing recognition that “community organising and local power building is simultaneously one of the best and one of the most under-resourced mechanisms we have to shift power to and secure just outcomes for (and with) communities”.[2]

Social justice grants are heavily weighted towards ‘service delivery’ and ‘inside game’ initiatives.

When looking in detail at these grants, Funding Justice 2 found that the dominant share of social justice funding in 2021/22 was focused on “the final stages of social transformation… rather than the movements that make these changes possible to begin with”.[3]

Nearly a third of social justice grants in the UK went towards service delivery. This work delivers much needed care to communities, but it does not go further in agitating for systemic change. 

Another 37% went to ‘inside game’ work in elite settings. This is work aimed at decision-makers, but it often excludes the very communities both facing injustice and fighting to end it. 

By contrast, less than 10% of social justice funding is going towards ‘outside game’ activities that excluded communities rely on to be heard.[4]

Social justice funding is still not shifting power and resources to communities. 

Nearly two thirds of social justice grants in the UK are focused on work carried out at the national level. 

Of sub-national work, London receives by far the most funding on a per capita basis, with £407 of grants per 100 people. By contrast, five English regions are receiving less than £1 per person in social justice grant funding. 

Where do we go from here?

Globally, poverty, conflict, political unrest and the effects of climate change continue to intensify. Nationally, our communities are facing greater deprivation, inequality, democratic decline, and the increasing failure of public services.[5]

These entrenched crises are felt most keenly by marginalised and minoritised communities, and the people and organisations working on the frontline to help them.[6]

Against this backdrop, ameliorative action alone is simply not sufficient in supporting communities and tackling the injustices they face.

While vital and promising debates are happening in UK philanthropy, Funding Justice 2 shows that we still have a long way to go to ensure these debates translate into shifts felt by communities on the frontlines.

It suggests a framework for funders agitated by injustice to analyse their giving. And it provides both the evidence and impetus for funders to work together to direct their resources to transformative action they claim to seek.

Finally, while Funding Justice 2 looks at the quantity of funding, it doesn’t touch on the quality of this funding. 

Elsewhere, we have looked in detail at the structural barriers relating to length and flexibility of grant funding; application processes; and impact measurement that stand in the way of social justice action.[7]

Key questions for funders reading this report 
  • How does our grantmaking compare to nationwide trends? 
  • How can I use the framework provided by Funding Justice 2 to interrogate my foundation’s efforts to fund for social justice? 
  • How can I use the data behind Funding Justice 2 to work with other funders and be more intentional about allocating shared resources in the pursuit of social justice? 
  • Why do we find it easier to talk about shifting power and resources to communities than to do so in practice? How can Funding Justice 2 support my foundation’s efforts to change this? 
  • What further thoughts does Funding Justice 2 spark? What feedback do I have for the team behind it that will enable them to refine the data and analysis in future iterations?

  • [1] We have consolidated some of this evidence here and key sources are included in the bibliography section.

  • [2] Taken from Growing the grassroots, a report from Vic Langer in 2022 that explores the power of place-based organising in achieving systemic change.

  • [4] These terms ‘inside game’ and ‘outside game’ are borrowed directly from the Ayni Institute’s research - Funding Social Movements: How mass protest makes an impact, 2019.

  • [5] An ONS report on income inequality in the UK in 2022 showed income inequality going up, as the disposable income of the poorest households went down. Meanwhile, recent research from Unlock Democracy reveals a ‘marked decline in the quality of British democracy’ across five measures, as industrial action continues and public services are evermore over-stretched.

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