Backbone Fund – Supporting a thriving voluntary sector

Paul Hamlyn Foundation announces grants totalling £1.2 million to support civil society.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) has made grants totalling £1.2 million to six organisations in the latest round of the Backbone Fund. The aim of the funding is to champion the vital role that these organisations play in building resilience within the sectors in which PHF has an interest. The Fund is unrestricted and makes a lasting commitment of up to £50,000 annually for five years to each organisation.

The following six organisations are vital connectors, collaborators and advocates that strengthen civil society through their efforts:

  • The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (CYPMH)
  • Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS)
  • Counterpoints Arts
  • Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR)
  • Museums Association
  • ShareAction

Part of a wider response to back civil society and its leaders, the Backbone Fund enables those involved to resource core activities, fund essential posts and to access reliable support for a significant period of time, free from political cycles. This is an approach that the Foundation has seen to be effective across wider funding portfolios.

We know that voluntary organisations frequently find it difficult to plan strategically for the long term, as available funding is often short term and project-based. Grants through the Backbone Fund are part of a broader commitment from PHF to fund in a way that allows organisations to reflect, learn, pursue change and focus on impact ambitions.

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said:

“Fundamental principles such as trust-based grant-making, long-term core support, and an acknowledgement that policy development and advocacy have value are at the heart of this portfolio. Since we started the Backbone Fund three years ago, these grants have helped to support a growing number of sector-critical organisations and, in doing so, the wider civil society eco-system.”

Sharon Heal, Director, Museums Association, said:

“This funding will enable the Museums Association to support transformational work in museums and galleries throughout the UK. Over the next five years, we will be working with our members to ensure that they can build strong and sustainable partnerships with their communities and use their collections to deliver maximum impact.”

Almir Koldzic and Aine O’Brien, Co-Directors, Counterpoints Arts, commented:

“This Backbone grant will provide our team and many partners with precious, long term support to build imaginative cross-sector collaborations in relation to migration and displacement. This unusual way of funding also demonstrates PHF’s commitment to listening and responding in innovative ways to the very real challenges facing the arts and voluntary sector today.”

Paul Glaze, Chief Executive, CWVYS, said:

“The grant acknowledges the important role that CWVYS plays in representing, supporting and giving voice to a membership of organisations working with young people across Wales. It will enable us to deliver critical infrastructure support, raising standards in youth work; training and supporting youth workers and youth work organisations and speaking up for young people and the services which support them.”

The Fund is by invitation only.

For more information on the Backbone Fund, please visit:

Backbone Fund