A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth

By W. David McIntyre | Go to book overview

16
The Commonwealth Foundation

Housed within the Secretariat complex, in the west wing of Marlborough House, is the Commonwealth Foundation. With a staff of scarcely more than a dozen and an income of only £2,600,000, the Foundation is on an altogether smaller scale than its co-tenant. But the Foundation, an autonomous inter-governmental body, funded by voluntary subscriptions and answering to a Board of Trustees, has been the catalyst for an astonishing growth and increasing involvement of the voluntary and non-governmental organisations of the Commonwealth. Its origins preceded the Secretariat, since the idea of a foundation to foster professional linkages had been mooted in the early 1960s and was part of the Way Ahead package presented to the 1964 PMMs. Although ‘overtaken’ by the Secretariat, the Foundation was considered and approved by exactly the same procedures, which brought forth the Secretariat during 1964 and 1965. After Arnold Smith commenced work as Secretary-General in August 1965, the Foundation’s first Director, John Chadwick, followed on 1 March 1966.

The Foundation’s mandate was, at first, clear and simple. The agreed memorandum approved in July 1965 established the Foundation to ‘administer a fund for increasing interchanges between Commonwealth organisations in professional fields’. The initial goal for the fund was £250,000 for which Britain agreed to pay half. After the first decade, the total was raised to £450,000 and Britain’s contribution became 30 per cent. The fund did not top £1,000,000 until the 1980s, after the mandate had been considerably widened. It passed the £2,000,000 mark in 1991–2, fluctuated through the 1990s and did not go beyond £2,500,000 until 1998–9. Thus, beside the great international foundations and even the CFTC, the Commonwealth Foundation is minuscule. But John Chadwick, Director from 1966 to

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