Foundations in the U.K. organizations and nations in a state of flux

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In the absence of a legal foundation form, and with differing national legal contexts, researching U.K. foundations presents major conceptual and practical challenges. This article maps and critically discusses the U.K. foundation landscape; it highlights the blurred boundaries of foundations as an organizational form and outlines the different expressions of charity laws that foundations face across the U.K.’s constituent parts. Examining data on foundation characteristics, the article shows that although data on foundations indicate that the organizational characteristics and activities of U.K. foundations resemble those in Germany and the United States, there remains an urgent need for more, and for more robust, data and insights on U.K. foundations to allow for meaningful comparison. Pointing to increased socio-economic challenges and changes in political perspectives on foundations, the article explores the shifting attitudes towards, and expectations and roles of, U.K. foundations and reflects on the issues ahead.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
VolumeOnline First
Early online date8 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2018


  • Philanthropy
  • Philanthropic foundations
  • Trusts
  • Public policy
  • Third sector
  • Nonprofit


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