Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.
The resources of Oak Foundation originated from an interest in the Duty Free Shoppers business which Alan Parker helped to build. Today, the Foundation comprises a group of philanthropic organisations based in various countries around the world.
Oak Foundation was formally established in 1983. Early grants were made in Denmark to organisations supporting single mothers and torture victims (1983) and in Zimbabwe to groups supporting vulnerable children and families, primarily at a community level (1984). Grants continued to be made annually in several countries until a new phase for Oak Foundation began in the early 1990s, when annual grant-making began to increase and staff were hired to run substantive programmes.
The first two programmes to get underway were Environment and Child Abuse, followed by four other programmes – Housing and Homelessness, International Human Rights, Issues Affecting Women and Learning Differences. There is also a Special Interest Programme, which funds medical research and other efforts identified by the Trustees that do not fall into the other programme areas, and two national programmes in Denmark and Zimbabwe. Five of Oak’s programmes also fund initiatives in India, and in 2013, Oak Foundation joined this work under the banner of the Joint India Programme.
Since its establishment, Oak Foundation has made over 3,000 grants to not-for-profit organisations across the globe. Oak has its main administrative office in Geneva, Switzerland and a presence in eight other countries: Belize, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, the UK, the US and Zimbabwe.
We value partnerships, both as a funder and as a grant-maker. As a foundation, we participate in the US-based Council of Foundations, the European Foundations Centre and selected groups of donors in areas related to our six programmes. (Visit our Memberships and Associations page for a complete list.) As a grant-maker, we encourage our partners to work together to leverage programme strengths and resources.
The following principles apply to the whole portfolio of our grants. While each programme has its own areas of focus, as a whole, we adhere to six funding principles. These include funding initiatives that:
- Target root causes of problems
- Are replicable either within a sector or across geographical locations
- Include plans for long-term sustainability
- Have secured co-funding
- Strive to collaborate with like-minded organisations
- Value the participation of people (including children) and communities