Trust fundraising is not rocket science, yet there is a certain degree of skill and knowledge involved, and certain tried and tested methods can be employed to enhance your chances of success. Although not an exhaustive list, here are some important tips to get you going, using the acronym TRUST to help you remember them easily!

T – Tell a story

Everyone likes a good yarn, not least trustees. Tug on those heartstrings and make the message you are trying to get across more personal. Case studies are vital in trust fundraising so keep a constantly updated supply to hand, with quotes if possible. Look at the rhythm of your proposal – does it come together well and flow as an entire document, or is it a bit disjointed? It should be easy to read, just like a story, with a beginning, middle and end. However, do make sure that there are some hard facts along with the emotional side of things (see the section on Specifics below).

R- Research and relationships

Always do your research. An enormous number of worthy bids end up in the trustees’ bins because the applicant has not done their research properly. Read the guidelines or giving criteria closely and do not apply to trusts that will not fund your particular type of project. Build relationships where possible with the administrators and trustees. If any of your major donors or Board members know the trustees, make contact and develop their interest in your organisation and project. Remember, relationships are not a short-term undertaking and take careful planning and cultivation.


What is your organisation’s (or project’s) Unique Selling Point? Are you the only one to do what you do in your local area/region/country? Do you do something differently to others? Can you offer better or wider-reaching services? What will be the consequences of not receiving a grant? Learn to really sell your organisation and its work.

S – Specifics

Trustees do not appreciate vague applications. Be specific with facts and figures when writing about why your project needs their money, and be specific again about exactly how much money you are asking for. Finally, be specific when you are telling them what you will do with their money, how many people/animals etc will benefit, what the intended aims and outcomes of your project are, how much have you already raised, and what is your timescale.

T – Timing

Linked in with undertaking proper research, find out wherever possible when the trustees’ next meeting is and when the cut off date is for you to send in your bid. Ensure you leave yourself plenty of time to write the bid, obtain any signatures or referees’ details required, and allow time for others to critique your bid and make amendments. Also under the heading Timing, thank any trust that gives you a grant immediately and do not forget to note the date by which you need to submit a grant report, allowing plenty of time for you to collate the relevant information from all parties.


  • Keep it short
  • Send all the information requested
  • Use supporting information such as clippings, endorsements, feedback and clear statistics to show your success.
  • Describe the problem and the solution – demonstrate the key problems faced, how you aim to address them, what difference the donation might make, how will you measure your success.
  • Be specific – funders like to give money to something tangible and are reluctant to fund ‘vague’ asks (e.g. Admin costs). Try to be specific about a project, put it in a time frame, set a deadline for your results.
  • Always use positive language and avoid jargon.
  • Be engaging – use photos or ‘real’ stories to demonstrate your work. Support any claims you make with evidence.
  • Ask for money – you can either ask for a specific donation for a set project, or request funding for a long term project (e.g. over 5 years), or part funding towards a target goal, or offer a shopping list of needs allowing the funder to pick what they would like to support.
  • Provide a budget – explain how the money will be spent, include all the relevant costs (it is also good practice to demonstrate how you determined these costs, such as including quotes or accounts)
  • Check your application before sending it!


10 Top Funding Application Errors

  1. Applying for grants you cant get – that don’t meet the criteria
  1. Asking for too much money or too little
  1. Providing too much information
  1. Avoid jargon and buzz words
  1. Stylistic problems – no paragraphs walls of text
  1. The budget doesn’t add up
  1. An invitation to talk to the funder isn’t taken up
  1. Forgetting to tailor the application to the funder
  1. Assuming the funder knows all about you
  1. What difference will you make

A-Z of fundraising ideas | Budgets | Corporate Donations and Sponsorship | Funding Sources – where to look for support | How to Fundraise in Tough Times | How to Write an Annual Report | How to Write an E-Newsletter | Individual and Small-scale Giving | Local Authority Funding | Local Community Foundations | Online Fundraising | Running Local Events | The Big Lottery Fund | Using Social Media | Using Volunteers | Writing and Application to a Charitable Trust | Writing Effective Fundraising Letters |

Font Resize