Time to focus on wellbeing

At Carnegie UK we’re all about wellbeing. We have been ever since we were set up over 100 years ago.  Wellbeing has meant different things to different generations. Right now, the world around us is changing in ways that mean it is time to rethink how we help people to live well together.
This is what ‘wellbeing’ means to us today. It is about everyone having what they need to live well now and in the future.
Looking after the wellbeing of all citizens – our collective wellbeing – is a powerful way of creating a society where everyone can live well together.

Collective wellbeing

At Carnegie UK we believe that collective wellbeing happens when social, economic, environmental and democratic wellbeing outcomes are seen as being equally important and are given equal weight.

  • Social wellbeing: We all have our basic needs met.
  • Economic wellbeing: We all have a decent minimum living standard.
  • Environmental wellbeing: We all live within the planet’s natural resources.
  • Democratic wellbeing: We all have a voice in decisions that affect us.

We experience each of these domains of collective wellbeing in different aspects of our lives: our own personal wellbeing – our quality of life and our general happiness; the wellbeing of the community we are part of – where we have the assets and relationships in place to live well locally; and as a society – where we all have what we need to live well together and flourish.

There is a growing body of research and evidence which demonstrates that improving collective wellbeing is an effective route to a good and sustainable quality of life for all citizens.

Our role as a wellbeing organisation

Our purpose is better wellbeing for people in the UK and Ireland. Our experience tells us that we can have the biggest impact on people’s lives when we influence decision-makers, whether these are businesses, politicians, civil or public services, or non-governmental organisations.

We work with partners to contribute to what is known about wellbeing, testing and studying what works in practice. We then use evidence to make the case for which approaches and systems need to change, and recommend how to make that happen.

It is an exciting, multi-disciplinary field of research to be contributing to. We are privileged to be able to use our endowment to do this work.

Over the coming years, we intend to:

Tackle issues that threaten aspects of wellbeing

Focusing our efforts on things that get in the way of wellbeing, where we have something distinctive to contribute.

Put wellbeing at the heart of decision-making

Growing support for a wellbeing approach to public policy by working with governments and policymakers at all levels in the UK and Ireland to think differently about how we understand society and contribute to social progress.

We will do this through a rolling portfolio of programmes, making sure that we pay attention to the most important issues affecting wellbeing at any time, as informed by the best evidence.

We know that our contribution is only one part of a wider ecosystem for social change. We are most effective when we work in collaboration, understanding our place in the system and bringing together ‘unusual friends’ with different perspectives. We will therefore create and contribute to partnerships with individuals and organisations to advance the ideas, evidence, actions and practice that will make a difference to the collective wellbeing of citizens in the UK and Ireland.

Our values

It is important to us to be:

Motivated by change

We are galvanised by wellbeing approaches that change people’s lives for the better; we commit to assessing and understanding our impact.


We recognise that social progress requires asking hard questions of ourselves and others; we commit to using research and evidence to speak truth to power.


We are invested in the collective impact of alliances; we commit to building coalitions to tackle wellbeing injustices and change systems.


We believe in radical kindness as the connection we have to each other and to wider society; we commit to putting strong relationships at the heart of everything we do.

Our wellbeing tests

We know that better collective wellbeing requires solid foundations and that there are certain conditions and practices which advance wellbeing when they are in place. Therefore, we will promote and facilitate solutions which:

Give people voice and choice

Recognising that wellbeing cannot be 'done to’ people, it has to be done by and with them.

Recognise relationships

Understanding the importance of human relationships and social connectedness.

Promote dialogue

Encouraging conversations and interactions between diverse communities, sectors and professions.

Support subsidiarity

Advocating local decision-making which reflects the needs and priorities of people living in that place.

Enhance transparency

Opening up access to knowledge, data and evidence to support people themselves taking action on wellbeing.

Tackle poverty

Knowing that people need to have their basic needs met before they can improve other aspects of their wellbeing.

Further equality

Knowing that wellbeing cannot flourish when there is inequality between people and communities.

Focus on long-termism

Safeguarding the collective wellbeing of future generations.

What we are curious about

We have always changed with the times, learning from the evidence and evolving our approaches as we go. We want to go on learning about collective wellbeing and the things you can do to improve it. From now on, we are going to do this learning in a more purposeful and transparent way, continuously asking ourselves:

  • What are we learning about wellbeing?
  • What are we learning about how change comes about?

Because we work in lots of different places and have a unique remit that extends to the whole of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, we will draw our evidence base from a broad field and share the learnings widely and openly, nationally and internationally.