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Social justice funding still failing to shift power & resources to communities: report

Melanie May | 30 October 2023 | News

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Just under 6% of all foundation giving in the UK went to work tackling injustice in 2021/22, research has found.

The Funding Justice 2 report, published last week, was researched and written by Jon Cracknell at the Hour is Late and Eliza Baring at the Civic Power Fund. It analyses 18,816 grants from 60 known social justice funders, totalling £952.4 million and accounting for around 21% of UK foundation giving in 2021/22. The report’s aim is to increase understanding of where social justice funding is going and whether the balance is right.

The researchers allocated each of the social justice grants to one of four categories: organising at the core, justice and power, advocating for change, and justice rather than social change.


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Where the grants went

When analysing the grants, they found that in 2021/22:

Looking in more detail at these grants, the researchers 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”.

Nearly a third of social justice grants went towards service delivery, while another 37% went to what it calls ‘inside game’ work in elite settings – work aimed at decision-makers, but often excluding the communities both facing injustice and fighting to end it. In fact, the research found that less than 10% of social justice funding is going towards ‘outside game’ activities that excluded communities rely on to be heard.

In addition, nearly two thirds of social justice grants in the UK (63.4%) are focused on work carried out at the national level. 

London receives the most funding on a per capita basis, with £407 of grants per 100 people, with the five English regions at the bottom receiving less than £1 per person in social justice grant funding. 

Grants spread ‘wide and thin’

Grants are also spread ‘wide and thin’ with the 2,773 grants awarded to 1,707 different groups. On average, each organisation secured 1.6 grants. The median grant size was £48,923, and 360 of the grantees (21.1%) received £10,000 or less.

‘Still a long way to go’

As a result, the report says, social justice funding is still failing to shift power and resources to communities, and while ‘vital and promising debates are happening in UK philanthropy,’ there is still ‘a long way to go to ensure these debates translate into shifts felt by communities on the frontlines’.

To help funders, it suggests a framework to use to analyse their giving, with key questions to ask themselves including how they can use this framework to interrogate their efforts to fund for social justice, and how they can 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.