Woman looking for information on charitable trusts fundraising
  • Author:Katie Holmes
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Finding charitable trusts

There are around 8,000 charitable trusts in the United Kingdom that are active grant-makers. Between they make grants totalling £6.5bn each year. They range from small, local trusts to the largest trust: the Wellcome Trust which gives £712m to medical research and related causes. How do you get started finding the right trusts for your charity?

Start local

If your charity covers a community, city or county, start by finding out about the charitable trusts and foundations that give grants in your area. Local charitable trusts and foundations are some of your best prospects for support. The grant amounts tend to be smaller, sometimes a few hundred pounds, but some of these trusts may well fund your charity year on year. They are also more likely to give unrestricted grants.

How to find local charitable trusts

Good places to start are your local infrastructure organisation and the Community Foundation for your county. See my article on Local Fundraising Training and Support for more information.

Has your charity received grants from charitable trusts in the past? Find out as much as you can about these.

If there are charities similar to yours locally have a look at their websites and financial statements to see who has given them grants, and make a note of the names of any charitable trusts. You can view charities’ financial statements on the Charity Commission website.

You can also use online funding databases and search by geographical area. There are details of a couple that you may be able to access free of charge here.

Your local library’s reference section may have a copy of the Directory of Grant Making Trusts. This is published annually by the Directory of Social Change and contains details of 2,000 trusts that give £40,000 or more. You can use its index to look up trusts that give in your area.

The Directory of Social Change also provides trustfundraising.org.uk, generally recognised as the most comprehensive source of information on grant-making trusts. An annual subscription costs over £400. It is worth asking in your library whether they provide free access to it, however I think only a few round the country do this.

It’s all about the research

You now have a list of charitable trusts that make grants in your area. Should you apply to all of them?

No. First, you need to make sure that your charity is eligible to apply. It’s not uncommon for charitable trusts to turn down half of the applications they receive because they don’t meet the trusts’ grants policy. If a trust says that it gives to charities working with elderly people there’s no point applying to it if your charity works with children.

You can find out what a trust’s grants policy is by:

  • using online funding databases or directories
  • finding out if the trust has a website – this will answer most of your questions
  • looking at the trust’s entry on the Charity Commission website – its financial statements may include more detail on its giving policy and a list of grants

In some cases it’s possible to phone or email if you are still unclear whether your charity is eligible to apply.

Now that you have a shortlist of local trusts, make a note of the other important information you will need for your application: dates of meetings; deadlines for submission of applications; how to apply; the main contact and address.

Once you’ve applied to relevant local trusts you can use the same approach to finding trusts that give on a regional or national basis.


Don’t have time to research funders?
Do get in touch for a chat about how I can help you.



Sources for the statistics in this article:

Foundation Giving Trends 2017, Association of Charitable Foundations

UK Grant-making Trusts and Foundations 2015, Directory of Social Change

Inside the mind of a grant-maker, nfpSynergy, 2013

Photo (cropped) by Clay Banks on Unsplash