Power and Accountability

Power and Accountability


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.  

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.

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.