Grant making trusts are established to donate grants for charitable purposes – they can be extremely diverse in their visions, purposes, aims, activities,
assets, structures and procedures.
Grant-making trusts have a greater degree of independence than almost any other sector or funder. They are extremely diverse – not only in the scale and
number of grants made – but in their age, their style of grant-making and in the areas they support. They can be local or national and each trust will have
its own funding criteria. These may be geographic or cause specific e.g. one trust may only fund work in Bristol, whereas another may only fund work with
Most grant-making trusts and foundations get their income from an endowment, i.e. a capital sum given to them by an individual, family or company.
Consequently, the amount of money trusts may have to distribute will vary greatly. Some will have millions of pounds to allocate, others will only have a
few hundred. Because grantmaking trusts are often privately endowed they are able to be creative, flexible and sometimes unorthodox in the use of their
funds, and to take risks that other funders – in particular statutory bodies – are constrained from taking. Trusts like to concentrate their funding on:
• new methods of tackling problems
• disadvantaged and minority groups which have trouble using ordinary services or are inadequately served by them
• responses to new or newly discovered needs and problems
• work which is hard to finance through conventional fund-raising
• one-off purchases or projects, including research
• short and medium-term work which is likely to bring a long-term benefit and/or to attract long-term funding from elsewhere
Charitable trusts and foundations will often support capital projects (items like equipment), revenue (ongoing costs), core, as well as project costs. Some
will be willing to pay for funding over a long period (e.g. 3 years salary funding) while others will only support you with a one-off donation. Because
trusts vary enormously in their policies, styles of working, and administrative capacities, there are three golden rules about applying for funding:
• do your homework beforehand
• prepare your application carefully
• give yourself plenty of time
Researching Charitable Trusts
Identifying charitable trusts and foundations for funding can time-consuming, but it is worth putting in the extra effort before making an application to
ensure you are applying to the right fund and meet all their criteria.
· Directories – whether in print or electronic format, directories of grant givers are an essential starting place when trying to find an appropriate
funder. Some will be indexed by subject, or beneficiaries, or even by geographical area. You can access information on current programmes, previous
beneficiaries, donation amounts, eligibility, and exclusions. They should also provide contact details and sometimes even a web address – allowing you to
research the funder in greater detail. You can access information on charitable trusts and foundations through various published directories and online
resources. The Directory of Social Change website (www.dsc.org.uk) produces a useful publication called the Directory of Grantmaking Trusts (which is
available on loan from BAND or libraries). Similarly VOSCUR provide a detailed funding directory online, as do BAND. Alternatively the Charity Commission
website (www.charity-commission.gov.uk/) lists all trusts and includes basic information on contact details, what they will support and how much they
distribute each financial year.
· Finding Trusts – if Directories are not an option you can always look for trusts online. Sometimes researching who has funded organisations similar to
you can be a good starting point, or even asking other fundraisers for recommendations (e.g. joining online fundraising communities).
· Shortlisting – Once you have found funder’s who might support your project, it is important to research them in more detail to ensure they are a suitable
funder. Things to look for include:
– Giving interests – such as location, age range, cultural background, social background etc
– Exclusions – most trusts will give detailed information on what they will not fund e.g. capital costs or salaries
– The size of the grant – is this appropriate for the project you are seeking funding for. If a trust only gives small donations, see if they would
contribute towards the total cost of your work.
– Deadlines – some trusts will accept applications all year round, others will have specific times when they meet to discuss grants, so make sure your
project falls within these guidelines.
– Grant-giving history – Most trusts and foundations will publicise past grants. It is worth looking at these to see if there are any patterns, for
example, grants being given in a particular area or the amount of grants given.
Ineligible applications cost you time and money. If you are unsure about any of the criteria, contact them and ask.