Stronger Foundations case studies

ACF’s Stronger Foundations reports help grant-making charitable foundations identify and pursue ambitious practice, with 40 pillars of stronger foundation practice set out under six thematic areas.  

ACF has developed a series of case studies to provide examples of how and when members are putting the pillars of Stronger Foundations into practice. We intend that by bringing the pillars to life, members are interested and inspired to consider what Stronger Foundations practice means for their organisation.  

We are grateful to all members who have shared their practice with us and trust these case studies demonstrate the range of ways that the pillars of Stronger Foundations can be applied by foundations.  

We are taking each Stronger Foundations thematic area at a time, and case studies will be published on a regular basis.  


Our case studies are a member-only benefit. Members can access them by clicking on the drop-down menu below and logging into their ACF account. Information about becoming a member is available here.


Impact and Learning case studies 

Barnwood Trust - “A rigid approach isn’t always right, especially in a disability and mental health space.” 

Following research into the challenges of offering meaningful short breaks to young people, Barnwood Trust co-designed a test-and-learn funding round with people with lived experience. Read the case study here.

Carnegie UK - “Working with an external partner helped us see the benefit of learning from both success and failure.”  

Carnegie UK wanted to improve how they made change happen. They started with learning more about their impact: how they knew their work makes a difference. Read the case study here.

Masonic Charitable Foundation - "Effective project management emerged as a critical skill."

Masonic Charitable Foundation produced the first in a series of animations about their new impact and evaluation approach. It focused on linking their vision with their intended impact. Read the case study here.

Sir Ernest Cassel Educational Trust - “Spending out may be the best way to maximise your impact. It frees you up to be honest and open as you have nothing to lose.” 

Sir Ernest Cassel Educational Trust decided to spend out their trust, offering larger grants to fewer partners. Read the case study here.

Spirit of 2012 - “Learning doesn’t happen by magic: people need support to learn about learning.”  

Spirit of 2012 support a learning culture in the organisations they fund, allowing grantees to spend up to 10% of their grant on learning and impact measurement. Read the case study here.

The Health Foundation - “Our work is better when it builds on what’s gone before, which needs a commitment to learning.”  

The Health Foundation developed an organisational impact strategy – shared priorities for their approach to impact – as well as achievable steps to improve our practices. Read the case study here.

Investment case studies

Access - The Foundation for Social Investment "You can make a difference while still achieving a financial return.”

Access - The Foundation for Social Investment developed a set of priorities for how their endowment should be invested that align closely with their mission of increasing the flow of capital to charities and social enterprises. These priorities informed their ‘bull’s eye model’. Read the case study here.

The Albert Hunt Trust - "At any strategy review, question the purpose and existence of your foundation."

The Albert Hunt Trust decided to spend their entire resources by 2029. Read the case study here.

Barrow Cadbury Trust - "Doing something, however small, is better than doing nothing."  

Barrow Cadbury Trust reflected on how their power and privilege led them to consider the source of their wealth – both its origins and how it has been built up in the investment market. Read the case study here.

The Bell Foundation - "Taking a step back and considering how your charity’s investments are managed can be daunting, but it doesn’t need to be.”

The Bell Foundation wanted to explore whether their investment policy could and should go further when it came to environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, and whether they should involve social investment. Read the case study here. 

Friends Provident Foundation - “Stewarding assets is a bit like parenting: it is never done!”

Friends Provident Foundation slowed down their grant spending to ensure they didn’t spend their capital before achieving their goals. Read the case study here. 

World Habitat - “You shouldn’t make this change quickly, or you could end up with an investment fund that’s not what you think it is.”

World Habitat reviewed their funds and moved any investments that conflicted with their aims and values to more ethical funds. Read the case study here.

Funding practices case studies

Barking and Dagenham Giving - “We listen. When residents say they need to slow down, we hit the brakes.” 

Barking and Dagenham Giving set up the UK's first community-led investment fund, known locally as the GROW Fund, to enable local business owners and entrepreneurs to make a commercial and social impact in the borough. Read the case study here.

Corra Foundation - “Take a risk. Try a new process, method, or whatever it is you want to change.”  

Corra Foundation implemented a number of adaptations to their micro grants process to make their funding more accessible, straightforward and suitable for small groups. Read the case study here.

Cripplegate Foundation - "When we treat people like they matter, amazing things can happen"

Cripplegate Foundation and Islington Giving are co-funding a five-year project to explore how a ‘people first’ approach can improve the experience of survivors of domestic abuse and those working with them. Read the case study here.

Pears Foundation - “Don't assume if you build it, they will come. They may not.” 

Pears Foundation created two free resources to offer a space, both physical and figurative, for their grantees to learn and develop. Read the case study here.

William Grant Foundation - “Be open to criticism, and the space this opens up for us all to change and improve.”  

William Grant Foundation developed a continuous anonymous feedback system to allow organisations to share their recent experiences across all stages of their funding journey. Read the case study here.

Transparency and Engagement case studies

Buttle UK - “We see transparency as being authentic – we don’t have things to hide.” 

Buttle UK are using 360 Giving to publish their data on grants for individuals, which previously only published grants for organisations. Read the case study here.

John Ellerman Foundation - “Transparency and engagement aren’t something you have to start from scratch: they’re something you’re already doing and can build on further.” 

John Ellerman Foundation created a perception audit with their grant holders and applicants, and recently began publishing their Investment Policy online. Read the case study here.

Rosa - “Transparency is worth the risk to ensure your funding reflects the true needs of the people you exist to serve.” 

Rosa's Stand With Us fund supports organisations addressing violence against women and girls (VAWG). Read the case study here.