Power and Accountability

Power and Accountability

Vision

Quakers have a strong commitment to equality. This leads us to reject some conventional forms of hierarchy (such as the use of titles), to share power widely within our own church structures and to be willing to speak the truth to powerful bodies and individuals.

 

In wider society, the way that power is concentrated, shared and used is changing as a result of globalisation, new technology, new channels of communication, extreme inequality and other factors. These changes bring increased risks of unaccountable power, but also new opportunities for interconnected, engaged and flourishing democracy.

We want to support people to create a world in which power is more equally shared, and in which powerful institutions are responsive and accountable to wider society and aligned with the long-term public interest.  

At this time of crisis, JRCT is also keen to support work that responds to the dual harms of the Covid-19 pandemic and systemic racism. We have amended our funding policy below to reflect this.

Funding priorities

1. Strengthening corporate accountability

Large corporations have significant power, and checks and balances are inadequately developed, particularly for trans-national corporations, including the largest digital platforms and intermediaries. We are interested in funding work which:

  • develops and promotes mechanisms which increase the accountability and responsiveness of companies to shareholders, stakeholders, regulators and the long-term public interest, for example through improvements to corporate governance, corporate structures (including alternative corporate forms), company reporting or regulation
  • develops and promotes mechanisms whereby those who suffer severely as a result of company actions, particularly marginalised groups, can gain access to justice
  • promotes the application of the same standards of accountability to large digital companies as other commercial organisations, for example with respect to taxation, consumer protection, treatment of minorities and the protection of rights
  • encourages a constructive dialogue across private, public and civil society sectors to define and develop values and norms of corporate accountability and transparency in relation to new digital technologies.
2. Strengthening democratic accountability

In a healthy democracy, government should be representative of the wider public and in touch with a wide range of groups, but not disproportionately influenced by any single interest. We are interested in funding work which:

  • develops and promotes mechanisms which ensure an accountable, transparent and proportionate relationship between the private sector and government
  • develops and promotes mechanisms which enable civil society and the general public, including marginalised groups, to engage appropriately and effectively with government policy making at all levels
  • encourages government, parliament and other statutory agencies to be more representative of the wider public they serve, in terms of gender, ethnicity and other factors 
  • supports the modernisation of the democratic infrastructure to increase its accessibility, relevance and resilience in a digital age
  • promotes greater transparency by digital intermediaries in relation to their impact on democracy and elections.
3. Encouraging responsible media

All forms of media play important roles in a healthy democracy, but media companies and platforms can themselves be powerful and unaccountable. We are interested in funding work which:

  • encourages accurate and responsible media, with appropriate safeguards
  • helps to develop a relevant and proportionate response to the risks of misinformation and disinformation in commercial media  
  • explores and promotes ways for all forms of media to play a constructive role in holding government, companies and other powerful actors to account
  • helps to develop and strengthen infrastructure to support new forms of community journalism for the public benefit.
4. Responding to the dual harms of Covid-19 and systemic racism

At this time of crisis, JRCT is keen to support work that responds to the dual harms of the Covid-19 pandemic and systemic racism. Specifically, we wish to encourage work that scrutinises the responses and policies of powerful institutions and actors, and which envisions and builds support for transformative social change based on justice, peace and sustainability, including work which:

  • Scrutinises and holds the government and/or corporations to account for systemic inequalities, injustices or abuses of power arising from their responses to Covid-19, including in relation to corporate bailouts, public procurement or worker support schemes
  • Examines how the media (including social media) landscape has been affected by Covid-19 and its effectiveness in holding government and key actors to account during the pandemic
  • Envisages how corporations could transform their purpose and practices to better address stakeholder concerns, sustainability imperatives and the long term public interest as part of recovery from the pandemic and seeks changes to support this

  • Identifies ways in which to build upon the widespread community activism arising during the pandemic to reinvigorate our democratic governance and institutions.

Other information

Under this programme, JRCT will consider applications for national work in the UK, or elsewhere in Europe for work at a pan-European level.

Specific exclusions

In addition to the Trust’s general exclusions, we will not fund work under this programme which:

  • is about democratic participation or user advocacy in relation to service provision, e.g. education and health
  • focuses on international development issues
  • is limited to corporate accountability in relation to a particular business sector, e.g. tourism or supermarkets
  • is general campaigning that is not concerned with the themes given above
  • supports individual journalists or news organisations to undertake investigations or create content.

Application deadlines

For further information see When to apply.