We build long-term relationships based on trust, mutual respect and our values of passion, professionalism and integrity.  Often this is expressed through core funding and unrestricted grants.

How we work

We use research, reports, and specialist expertise to build and enhance our understanding of specific issues and challenges and enable us to direct funding most effectively. We have built a sizeable and diverse network of individuals and organisations who provide knowledge and expertise including existing grantees, other funders and community stakeholders.

Once we have developed an understanding of the context and identified a potential opportunity, we then develop a funding approach which may be unrestricted or capacity-building funding or a more focused area of work. We then go through a due diligence process to get to know the organisation and assess its capacity. The purpose is for us to gain a better understanding of the organisation, the context in which it operates, and the main risks and challenges. We respect organisations’ time and we do not ask for information that is already publicly available.

Our staff participate in wider networks enabling them to build relationships across the sector and share learning and best practice. We were one of the first foundations to sign up to the Institute for Voluntary Action’s eight commitments to open and trusting grant-making and participated in one of the working groups for the Association of Charitable Foundations Stronger Foundations initiative. We are committed to transparency and publish details of our grant-making on 360Giving.

Relational funding

When we make a grant, we are committing to more than funding; we are starting a relationship.

We build long-term relationships based on a clear understanding of our grantees’ needs.

  • 70% of our grantees have received consistent Pears Foundation funding for 5 years or more.
  • 40% of our grantees have received consistent Pears Foundation funding for 10 years or more.

We work closely with our grantees to understand the contexts in which they work and their needs and challenges. We do not measure our grantees against tick box standards, and we are flexible and responsive to their needs and changing circumstances

We do not expect our grants to be risk-free or for everything to go to plan. What we do ask for is a frank and honest dialogue so that both partners can understand the challenges and maximise the opportunities for learning. All organisations go through challenging periods and by providing unrestricted funds over long periods of time we demonstrate trust in our grantees, an acceptance of risk and a willingness to be with them on their journey. When we understand the challenges, we can work with our grantees to address them through our grants and also through our non-grant support, which includes our in-house professional development programme, organisational development consultancy and physical space at the Pears Hub.

Our hope is that relational grant-making should add value and not feel burdensome for grantees. We believe we are better able to support organisations if we understand the challenges they face and the contexts in which they are operating, and when a grantee shares challenges or mistakes with us our role is to help them adapt and learn.

When a grant closes, we give as much notice as possible so that the organisation can plan for the future.

You can read more about our approach to relationships and learning here and here.


We allow our grantees to report to us in whatever style works best for them and we are happy to accept joint reporting with other funders. Written reports are one element of a wider process. They are the trigger for a broader  conversation (ideally a face-to-face one)  including about renewing the funding. They provide a check-in point for our grantees to reflect and to share their achievements and challenges, and for us to listen and learn so that we can understand the context in which they are working, support them better and be a more effective funder. We have a flexible approach and are committed to ensuring that the process is not unnecessarily bureaucratic or onerous.

Beyond grants

We are committed to learning from our grants and grant programmes and to supporting our partners to reflect on their work, learn and develop. In addition to financial support and the grant manager relationship, we offer a professional development programme for all our Pears partners, working closely with our partners to identify the issues they would like to explore. The programme is a mixture of reflective workshops that focus on skills for teamwork, problem-solving and leadership and ‘lunch and learns’ with guest speakers.

We also offer tailored training and, where appropriate, organisational development consultancy to individual organisations.

The other way we provide support beyond grants is the Pears Hub, an open-plan office space available free of charge to all Pears grantees for meetings, co-working and hot desking.

We also create opportunities, and provide additional funding when appropriate, for our grantees to collaborate and share learning and best practice.

The Foundation’s complaints and whistleblowing policies may be viewed on request.