The Data

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The data tables and charts below draw on 18,816 grants from 60 social justice funders, with the grants being made either in calendar year 2021 or the 2021/22 tax year.  

Together, these grants were worth £952.4 million. This is equivalent to c. 21% of UK foundation giving in 2021/22.[16]

Table 1 shows how the £952.4 million breaks down between the four categories of social justice work described in the Methodology

Grants going to different categories of social justice work
Value of grants (£)
Number of grants
As a % of UK foundation giving
Organising at the core
Justice and power
Advocating for change
Justice but not change
Table 1

We calculated that 27% of grants from known social justice funders went towards work addressing injustice. This is just 5.7% of all UK foundation giving.

Although we expanded Category 1 to include a wider range of organising grants compared to Funding Justice 1, we can see that organising continues to receive much less funding than work falling into the other three categories. 

Just 1.6% of all the grants analysed in the report, amounting to 0.33% of all UK foundation giving, had organising at their core. 

It is also important to note that even within this wider organising category, the majority of grants are supporting organising work focused on a specific social issue, rather than shifting power to a specific community. This means that funders are still by and large setting the terms of the work. 

In total, we identified c. £250 million worth of grants that could be described as ‘social justice grants’ and applied additional, detailed analysis to these grants. 

The regional distribution of social justice grants

As in Funding Justice 1, we categorised each grant geographically, either as a grant that supported work at the national level across the UK, or work taking place in one of the devolved nations or UK regions. 

Charts 1 and 2 below show how social justice grants are distributed to each region, with Chart 1 showing the number of grants per region, and Chart 2 showing the value of the grants expressed in relation to the population of each region.

Chart 1

Chart 2

A little under two thirds of the social justice grants we identified (63.4%) are focused on work carried out at the national level.

When we look at the distribution of the grants directed to sub-national work, London receives the most funding on a per capita basis (as was the case in Funding Justice 1), with £407 of grants per 100 people.  

The devolved nations fare reasonably well on this per capita measure, ranging from £311 per 100 people in Northern Ireland to £140 in Wales. By contrast the five regions at the bottom of Chart 2 are receiving less than £1 per person in social justice grant funding.[17]

We have like-for-like grants data for 43 foundations for 2018/19 and 2021/22, and this allows us to identify grantees that received funding in 2021/22 but not in 2018/19. 

If we look at the regional distribution of the grants to just this set of 783 ‘new’ grantees then we see that grants supporting national work are down to 57.9% (as compared to 63.4% for all of the 2021/22 grantees). 

The proportion of grants directed to work in London also falls a little for these new grantees, with Scotland and the North West the regions receiving the biggest percentage increases in funding.  

This data hints at an exciting change in the way grants are being distributed, but it would be a mistake to read too much into this initial analysis.

Foundational theories of change

In addition to allocating social justice grants to one of the four categories of social justice work, we used a framework for analysing movement ecologies developed by the Ayni Institute in the United States, adding a sixth foundational theory of change. This is explained in more detail in the Methodology.  

When we allocate the 2,773 grants in categories 1-4 across these six theories of change we arrive at the breakdowns shown in Charts 3 and 4. 

Chart 3

Chart 4

Charts 3 and 4 show very clearly that most social justice grants are directed to either ‘inside game’ work or to ‘service delivery.’   

Other elements of the movement ecology set out in the Ayni Institute analysis receive significantly less funding, with the ‘structure organising’ element receiving just 9.4%. 

Taken together ‘structure organising’ and ‘mass protest’ represent what is commonly described as ‘outside track’ work. We can see from Chart 4 that these two theories of change together receive less than 10% of the social justice funding in categories 1-4. 

It appears that social justice grantmakers are primarily focused on working through established institutions and channels to achieve change on the ‘inside track’ or on delivering services, rather than on building power that can help to disrupt the status quo.   

Thematic issues

As in Funding Justice 1, each grant was allocated to one of sixteen thematic issue categories, which are listed in the Annex. Chart 5 below shows how the grants were distributed across these categories.

Chart 5

As can be seen from the chart, the ‘economic justice’ category receives the largest share of the funding by value, with ‘immigration/migration’ having the largest number of grants.  

We would caution readers against relying too much on this thematic breakdown (for reasons set out above in the Methodology section), and remind them that this is a breakdown of the social justice grants from the 60 funders in the dataset, and not an estimate of the funding available to civil society organisations working across all these different issues. 

Foundation grants will vary in importance as a source of funding within the 16 thematic issue categories. For example, recent research commissioned by Migration Exchange suggests that foundation grants represent around 29% of the income of ‘core’ refugee and migration organisations.[18] For the UK environment sector, trust and foundation funding is estimated to provide 13% of income on average.[19] The question of which sectors are most in need of philanthropic funding from social justice funders is one that we are keen to discuss with partners and grantmakers.

We were interested to see whether grants from funders on different thematic issues were distributed in the same way across the six foundational theories of change, or whether there were variations. The figures shown here are initial estimates. With more grants added to the dataset we will be able to have more confidence about the allocation of funding across the different theories of change.

Chart 6

Chart 7

It is immediately clear from Chart 6 that grants to work on climate mitigation are distributed in a different way to those on immigration/migration, with a much stronger emphasis on ‘inside game’ work for the climate grants, whereas the immigration/migration grants lean heavily towards ‘service delivery’.  

It is notable that in many of the thematic issues to the fore in discussions about moving philanthropy towards justice (e.g. ‘racial justice’, ‘gender justice’, ‘immigration/migration’, ‘LGBTQ+ rights’ and ‘disability rights’) it is ‘service delivery’ that is receiving the largest proportion of funding from social justice grantmakers. 

Less funding seems to be directed towards work that actually challenges the underlying systems causing injustice.

This emphasis on ‘service delivery’ comes across clearly in the Migration Exchange research cited above, with many organisations in the refugee and migration sector working tirelessly to cope with the consequences of ‘hostile environment’ policies and how to ensure basic dignity for people in need arriving on our shores.  

Survey respondents in the Migration Exchange report highlighted the need for increased policy-focused work in the future. This is also the case in Environmental Funders Network research into the priorities of UK environmental organisations cited above, despite the fact that for the climate mitigation grants tracked here we see a strong focus on ‘inside game’ policy work, and campaigning oriented towards changes in corporate practice.

We are keen to discuss with readers the extent to which the differing politics of each issue require a different blend of movement capacities, and the extent to which the optimal balance changes as issues make a journey from obscurity to resolution.  

Both the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s Social Power research and the ‘Movement Action Plan’ developed by Bill Moyer are useful in this regard.[20]

We would encourage funders to think about where philanthropic capital is most needed across the different theories of change for the issues on which they focus, keeping in mind the importance of ‘outside track’ power-building work (whether through ‘structure organising’ or ‘mass protest’) in creating demand for change in other arenas.

Grants are spread wide and thin

As in Funding Justice 1, we have looked at the way in which the grants in the four categories of social justice are distributed across different grantees.  

The ‘wide and thin’ distribution that we saw in the first edition is very evident with the new data, with the 2,773 grants being awarded to 1,707 different groups.  

On average, each organisation secured just 1.6 grants. The median grant size was £48,923, and 737 organisations (43.2%) secured less than £50,000 in grant funding, with 360 (21.1%) receiving £10,000 or less.

Chart 8

With data for 43 foundations for both 2018/19 and 2021/22 we were able to explore whether grantees had received funding in both years, or just one of the two years.  

There appears to be considerable ‘churn’ in social justice grantmaking. 

In 2021/22 there were 1,993 social justice grants made by the group of 43 foundations, to 1,217 distinct grantee organisations. It appears that 783 of these grantees (64.3%) didn’t receive a grant from the 43 foundations in 2018/19.[21] They appear to be new/changed grantees since 2018/19.  

Does this represent an optimal distribution of philanthropic capital? On the one hand, foundation grants are essential when it comes to supporting innovation, and getting new organisations up and running. Foundations also have the ability to respond quickly to changing circumstances, Covid-19 being a case in point.  

We also know that small, grassroots organisations struggle to access funding. These are the groups on the frontlines of our current crises, who are patching up gaps in service provision and have the capacity to build the long-term people power vital to systemic change. It should be easier for them to get money, not harder.  

On the other hand, it is hard to avoid the feeling that funders are contributing to the fragmentation of civil society, and perhaps not providing enough sustained support to a core group of partners. By working more closely together, funders might be able to target resources more intentionally. 

We don’t want to overclaim in terms of what the data shows us so far, but we are keen to discuss these findings, and to develop this analysis going forwards. The movement ecology framework should help us situate this conversation. 

The ten foundations granting the most money in categories 1-4

As in Funding Justice 1, we have included a table showing which of the 60 foundations in the dataset provided the largest amount of funding to grantees in categories 1-4.

The ten foundations granting the most money in categories 1-4
Value of category
1-4 grants (£)
No. of category 1-4 grants (£)
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
National Lottery Community Fund
Oak Foundation
Comic Relief UK
Trust for London
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
Legal Education Foundation
Nuffield Foundation
Guy's and St Thomas' Foundation
Table 2


The ten foundations in the table together accounted for 56.9% of the social justice funding by value, and for 38.3% of the total number of grants.  

The 56.9% is somewhat lower than the percentage of funding accounted for by the ten largest funders in other similar grants mapping research, suggesting that the ten largest funders are somewhat less ‘dominant’ than is often the case.[22]

  • [16] It is hard to determine an accurate denominator for total UK foundation giving. The Association for Charitable Foundation’s Foundation Giving Trends 2022 estimates the grant-making of the top 300 foundations to be £3.7 billion, and that this represents 90% of giving in the sector. ACF’s data does not include The National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF), and it relates to the 2020/21 financial year, one year earlier than our dataset. We adjusted the £3.7 billion figure so that it would cover 100% of giving rather than 90%, and added the grants made by TNLCF in 2020/21. We also compared the total 2020/21 and 2021/22 grantmaking of 28 foundations in our dataset who feature in the ACF Top 300 foundations. To our surprise, the value of the grants made by these foundations fell by 17.8% between 2020/21 and 2021/22, and we therefore decided not to adjust the combined “100% plus TNLCF” figure for inflation. Figures expressed as a percentage of total foundation giving should be seen as estimates.

  • [17] There are parallels here with the distribution of grants identified in the Patchwork Philanthropy report published by the Young Foundation in 2018, particularly when it comes to the heavy concentration of philanthropic funding in London relative to other parts of the UK.

  • [18] This is taken from Ruth Grove-White and Mike Kaye, People, power and priorities: Insights into the UK refugee and migration sector, published by Migration Exchange in July 2023. Total trust and foundation grants are estimated at £52 million, and income of the ‘core’ refugee and migration sector at £176 million. This £52 million is higher than the £37.5 million of Category 1-4 grants that we calculate are directed to migration/immigration work in our 2021/22 data, but the grantmaking to the migration and refugee sector from the 20 foundations interviewed for the Migration Exchange research is estimated to be £38 million, almost an exact match. The 20 foundations overlap strongly with foundations in our dataset. Furthermore, of the 175 civil society groups that responded to the survey for the Migration Exchange a total of 117 feature in the grantee lists for Funding Justice 1 or Funding Justice 2. Many of the organisations in the Migration Exchange set of survey respondents that are not in the grantee lists are local support groups. We think this is encouraging in terms of validation of the Funding Justice methodology when compared to sector-specific ‘deep-dive’ research.

  • [21] It is difficult to give a completely accurate figure for the number of different grantees (particularly in our 2018/19 dataset) due to organisations re-branding themselves, and different foundations referring to the same organisation with different names. We are steadily cleaning up the dataset to eliminate double-counting (e.g. CAB Barking & Dagenham, Citizens Advice Barking & Dagenham, Barking & Dagenham Citizens’ Advice…) and 64.3% is our current best estimate for the proportion of new grantees.

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