How we work

We aim to be more than a grant-maker in that, as well as providing funding, we endeavour to develop excellent relationships to work with and alongside those we support.

Our guiding principles are to:

Support innovation

We are interested in finding innovative ways to address long standing and emerging social issues and to create new opportunities. We recognise the need to take risks to achieve results and the possibility that not all innovations will succeed.

Give people a voice

We want to give people greater control over the decisions that shape their lives. We want to help people and groups, especially those experiencing disadvantage, to speak out and be heard, including by those who make policy or provide services.

Work with others

We believe that it is often more effective to work with others, as well as those we fund. Accordingly, we welcome partnerships – with other funders, government and business, as well as our grantees – and aim to build communities of interest around the activities we support. We look to exploit the synergies between the different areas of our grant-making and expect to make much more of our ability to convene.

Make lasting commitments

We believe that we can best achieve lasting change by committing for extended periods to issues and causes. We also recognise the value of long-term relationships as one way of providing support to organisations to consolidate and develop their work.

Be open

We strive to be open in our grant-making and relationships. We endeavour to operate a straightforward, transparent process for those seeking grants from us. To make our funding approaches easier to understand and better suited to what applicants are seeking, our funding will fall into four simple categories: ‘Ideas’ and ‘Explore and test’ are relatively light-touch and quick; ‘More and better’ and ‘Growth’ are usually for larger amounts, requiring a longer-term commitment and a more engaged relationship. We welcome feedback and will respond if our approaches to funding are undermining the quality of the relationships we wish to create.

Have impact

We seek to achieve the greatest possible impact with our resources. We recognise the importance of learning from actions that have evidence of success, and of gathering data about untested approaches. We seek to do this in a systematic and proportionate way, and to use what we learn to improve the way we work. We believe that we can add value by building and sharing our knowledge and experience with others and we aim to support this approach across the sectors in which we operate.

Work across the UK

We want to make sure our work benefits communities throughout the country and in areas that are least well connected or least able to access resources. Because of this, we actively seek to support work outside London, as well as recognising the role that London-based organisations play nationally and locally.

Be an effective organisation and a fair employer

We set ourselves high standards for how we operate. We aim to ensure the responsible investment and effective deployment of our endowment. We strive for fairness, efficiency and effectiveness in our internal processes and we seek to support and develop our staff so they can play a variety of creative roles, as well as managing grants and our resources efficiently.

Our investment and management approach

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is a registered charity that has substantial investment assets that finance our grantmaking activities. The financial objective of the Foundation is to maintain the real value of those assets after inflation, whilst generating a stable and sustained return to fund grant-making of, on average, 4 per cent per annum. We understand that many of the areas in which we work as a grant funder are complex and require a long-term approach. Equally, in managing our assets, the Foundation is a long-term investor, expecting to exist in perpetuity.

We aim to distribute grants of about £25 million per annum, but this can vary from year to year depending on grantmaking opportunities and investment returns. We seek to produce the best financial return within an acceptable level of risk.

We are interested in the best way of supporting organisations we work with, and recognise that although this will usually be through grant funding, at times support through other methods such as loans may be helpful. However, the Foundation is not currently seeking to build a social investment portfolio.

We own our building in King’s Cross, London, and make it available free of charge to past and present grantees when we can. We believe it provides an important safe space to reflect and share learning openly for us and our partners.