What are Trusts and Foundations?
One of our most frequently requested services is Trust and Foundation Fundraising – and for good reason! There are currently in excess of 8,800 grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK, providing around £1.7 billion in grants to charitable causes each year.

Most foundations have been funded by an endowment (land or capital) which is then invested and the income is used to support their charitable giving. Not all foundations make grants but over half (56%) of the total value of all UK grant-making comes from personal or family foundations. ‘Trust’ is another name for a charity and in fact many grant giving bodies are both a foundation and a trust.

What can we get funding for?
Trusts and Foundations are (usually) independent thinkers and will have their own ideas of what they want their funding to achieve and the benefit they wish to focus on. Some will have preferences for geographical areas, or specific community groups – others will focus on a theme or issue. Some will only give for capital, others project, others revenue or a mixture. A few trusts focus on long term partnerships and new ways of doing things.
The value of grants given varies hugely – there are many more funders who will fund £500 – £10,000 but fewer who will fund over £100k in any single application.

How do we know who will fund us?
We subscribe to a number of databases which are regularly updated (Trustfunding and GrantFinder) but this can be an expensive option for an individual charity. Probably the best place to look (for free) is Funding Central.

Once you have undertaken initial research and identified potential funders it’s important to look into each funder in depth to ensure that they are a good fit. If your funding needs don’t match their charitable objectives or their track record then they aren’t a good match.

Are they the right funder?
We can’t underestimate the importance of background research. Every application you submit needs to be tailored for that particular trust so it takes time to put an application together. Make sure you use your time wisely by thoroughly researching and ensuring a good fit. Not only do you need to be sure that your project is a match but you also need to check that you have met their eligibility criteria – you may be the perfect fit but if your income is £600K and they only fund charities with an income of less that £250k then your application will fail at the first hurdle.

Completing the application
• All funders have different application processes so take the time to ensure that you understand what is required
• If there is an application form, read the guidelines and work on a draft – don’t submit responses straight into a form
• Ensure that you have all of the supporting information required
• Don’t go over on word count (in many cases you will be restricted)
• Ensure you have given the correct contact details
• Always ask someone to review the application before you submit

What next?
The wait begins!
In many cases you will be informed of the outcome of your application, but for smaller Trusts and Foundations it would be impractical and they will often state that they will not respond to unsuccessful applications. As a rule of thumb if you haven’t heard anything within 3 months it is unlikely that you have been successful. However, some Trusts and Foundations will publish the dates that trustees meet so you are able to get a rough idea of when you might expect a response. Larger organisations may have administrative staff and be able to offer a reply and feedback on an unsuccessful bid.

Receiving Funding
If you are successful and are awarded a grant then please remember to SAY THANKYOU!! We’re surprised at how many times we hear that this hasn’t happened. Apart from being good manners, it’s also important as the first step in building a relationship with a funder.
Funders will specify their reporting requirements (if they have any) so it’s important to be aware of these and send reports in on time. Even when they don’t ask for a report we would recommend sending an update (if the project is over a year) or a summary at the end of the funding period. If appropriate, you could invite them along to an event or to meet staff or beneficiaries. It’s simple – if a funder knows that their support is valued, appreciated and has made a difference then they are more likely to respond positively to future applications.

Don’t give up! It’s competitive out there but that doesn’t mean there isn’t funding out there for you. If you don’t succeed then seek feedback, not all funders give this but where they do, it’s always helpful to know where you went wrong or might improve so you can you apply this in the future. If you have researched thoroughly, ensured you meet the criteria and put in a strong application then it may simply be the case that there were many applications – it has been known for the same application to be successful at a later date!

How we can help
At Fundraising Central we have many years’ experience of successful Trusts and Foundation fundraising. We submit many applications every month we are aware of all the trends and can advise on the most appropriate funders to apply to.

We offer a range of services, from scoping potential funders to writing applications and offering a ‘critical friend’ service. We also offer bespoke training to staff to give them the best chance of Trust and Foundation fundraising success. Get in touch to find out how we can help: hello@fundraisingcentral.co.uk