We have undertaken a review of the most significant literature in the field over the last 15 years. Although inevitably we will have missed some important material.

We have presented a summary of the findings, somewhat clumsily, under six areas. Given time and resource constraints and our own relatively broad and shallow understanding of the sector, these findings are simply presented as we have found them.

What we haven’t done is get behind these headline findings to draw out previously unidentified patterns, to understand why the literature tells us what it does, or to seriously consider what should happen next.

Finally we have been struck by a nagging suspicion that this picture of grant making practice painted by experts in the field is only one window into a complex landscape. Our research says little from the perspective of foundation trustees, for example, regulators, financial directors, beneficiary organisations or perhaps most importantly communities themselves.

Dan Gregory and David Floyd.