Private foundations and international development funding

25 October 2011

In september 2011, we submitted evidence to the International Development Committee Inquiry on Private Foundations

Following submission, Sarah Lock, Head of our Africa Programme, was invited to give evidence at the Committee's meeting on 25 October 2011. 

Our full submission is available to download, but in summary:

  • The submission describes the international work of the Nuffield Foundation as an example of a private foundation’s policy and practice in international work. The Foundation, together with its subsidiary Trust, the Commonwealth Relations Trust, has provided £5.5 million over the past ten years to build professional and academic capacity in Eastern and Southern Africa.
  • The Nuffield Foundation is one of a group of around 50 mid-sized UK foundations supporting international work, with spending in the range between £50K and £10M per annum. The focus of support for most of this group is on NGOs and the voluntary sector. The Foundation’s support of professional and/or academic capacity building projects is unusual.
  • The members of this group have accumulated considerable experience and expertise in defined areas. The Nuffield Foundation, with other UK foundations, has commissioned studies to map UK private foundations’ support for international funding. The latest study, due for completion in October, has been summarised in a separate submission to the Select Committee from its author Professor Cathy Pharoah of Cass Business School.
  • UK foundations are a very diverse group with different interests and objectives. This, coupled with their independence, results in them being able to fund in ways not open to public funders in terms of style and topic. They tend to support international work that complements work supported by DFID and multilateral organisations – by focussing on smaller scale initiatives or issues not addressed by these larger funders.
  • Increased dialogue between foundations and DFID could benefit both parties’ knowledge and understanding of each others’ funded work and modus operandi. There is also potential for collaboration.