We reviewed 58 papers and articles in an attempt to find a comprehensive view across efforts to improve the practice of trusts and foundations. Each article is listed here, and includes a brief summary from our review.

While we have attempted to provide a coherent narrative across efforts to improve practice, which are summarised in these findings, linked to below, what is striking is how problematic, perhaps impossible, it is to identify such a coherence.

Even if based on surveys and primary research, papers often take a position that echoes the authors’ opinion, or interests, in the subject, creating dynamics that set actors apart from each other. Individually, and even as a whole (including our review), the view of the field is incomplete. Much of the literature can be viewed as reductionist, in that its focus precludes, or excludes, a whole systems view in favour of attempting to identify or propose a single, or set of, solutions to the challenges faced by trusts and foundations.

Our literature review befell the fate of many, if not all, efforts to make sense of the field. In an attempt to establish a comprehensive view of the issues an adequate expression of the complexity of the field eluded us.

The challenge for us, ahead of the Foundational Thinking Hack, is to together shine more light on the issue at hand. In so doing we may create the conditions where we can change the ‘register’ of the debate and so foster momentum and collaboration towards effecting real change in the world of trusts and foundations.

A Note on Approach


Communication and Transparency

Trust and Understanding

Conditions and Costs

Innovation and Risk

Co-operating and the Wider Interest

Capacity and Capability