‘Orientation for foundations in a time of change’ was the title of the opening plenary of the ACF’s 2010 conference, held in London on 22 September. This could have been the title of the entire conference. For foundations in the UK, ‘a time of change’ comprises ongoing recession, expected massive cuts in public spending, and the amorphous ‘Big Society’ that is the watchword of the new coalition government.
Geoff Mulgan of the Young Foundation, one of the panellists, succinctly outlined four different ways foundations could respond. They could help to keep charities afloat as the state withdraws. They could be more ‘strategic’, for example reporting on unmet needs and shifting priorities. They could support research on how to reshape financial systems. Finally, he suggested making better use of the media, with the aim of ensuring the voices of different groups are heard.