Trusts and Foundations

Trust Fundraising costs are low and the return on investment can be as high as 20 or 40 to 1. Charitable Trusts contribute a significant portion of charity income, particularly for smaller organisations lacking the resources to fund and administer mass-market donor recruitment drives.
To secure trust income for your organisation one needs to research trusts, write excellent applications, manage relationships brilliantly and keep information well organised.

Writing excellent, targeted applications

Once this background research has been completed the fundraising can begin. A list can be compiled of Trusts who may feel a sense of common cause with your organisation. It is worth erring on the side of optimism at this stage as trusts may have broader interests than their directory entry, or other sources of information may suggest. On the other hand it is important not to waste time with those funders whose priorities are clearly of a different nature.
At this stage, close consultation with project staff and managers within your organisation is very worthwhile. There may be scope for applying for an embryonic project that has not reached the stage of being incorporated into the organisational budget, but which everybody would like to see run. Even with existing projects, it is important to have project staff on-board from the outset. Their collaboration will make all the difference when it comes to writing up the application and, of course, in the matter of evaluation and reporting at the end of the grant period.
Although all good proposals set out clearly the need for your project, along with aims, methodology, expected outcomes and costs, the format of the application must conform to the rules of the individual Trust, and reflect the interests of the Trustees. Careful study of the Guidelines for Applicants and the application form are indispensable where these are employed. In freeform applications the priorities of the Trust should be to your case for support as the key of D Major is to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. In all cases, the funder should reach the bottom line of your proposal with a clear sense of how the objectives of the Trust are going to be met.

Keeping information well organised

With individual Trust Officers taking responsibility for portfolios of several hundred Trusts, good administration is absolutely essential. On the level of the Trust Officers desk, logical method of central record keeping is a must to ensure that the various cycles of trust-charity relationships can be monitored. On the organisational level it is important that all members of the charity are aware of the Trust Fundraiser’s role and that all Trust-related business is channeled through the post holder. Disasters occur in larger organisations when internal miscommunication results in Trusts receiving inappropriate correspondence from unauthorised sources, or when correspondence from a trust is misdirected and never reached the Trust Fundraiser’s desk.

Grant Making Agencies

Grant making agencies (charitable trusts, foundations, [the lottery]], quasi-governmental grant makers etc) and governments are the formal part of the appeal. In the feasibility study they will have been sorted into groups of those who may fund bricks and motor and those who will not do this, but may fund other parts of the appeal such as additional revenue needs.
Now boomers run the grant-making institutions they are demanding a very professional level of monitoring and evaluation. You will need to be certain of your indices of change (how you measure the effectiveness of the way you meet the needs of your clients) and that you really use them to evaluate your work properly. Have you undertaken a rigorous baseline survey of the needs you are meeting? If you don’t measure your success how do you know you are doing work worth funding? If this makes no sense to you, then your appeal is in serious trouble and your organisation should pause to develop these tools before proceeding. Do become familiar with log-frames short for logical frameworks as used by the UN and EU.
If it has not been done before, timetabling the necessary applications is key to organising staff and not missing out on any deadlines. It is a smart move to set application completion deadlines at least a week or two ahead of the real ones, as it can sometimes be impossible to come up with building information or new policy agreements at the last minute. Lottery and other large applications are particularly prone to miss their deadlines as the information required is very detailed. Applications are also required at a very high level and are extremely competitive. It is not good enough to tick the right boxes, your applications needs to shine much brighter than all the others. If you are fortunate to come through to a second round do not assume that it is all over. Give the team that submitted the initial application time to compose another winner as the second round is far more demanding and competitive than the first round. You are now competing with the highly skilled professionals.
Grant making organisations and government agencies are staffed by people with whom you are well advised to create a warm relationship. It is not all about the form, at capital appeal level where you are asking for large sums, your whole organisation is on display and a physical visit is more than likely. This requires differing skill sets to be deployed; both meticulous form filling and judicious use of English, and the emotional intelligence and charm of the natural ‘people person’ and good communicator.
If you have built and cherished these relationships over the years they will serve you well in a capital appeal, if not you are really entering a cultivation period for those involved.

Grant Making Agencies

There are a limited number who support capital appeals and your research should unearth those relevant to your appeal without too much trouble. As these tend to be the larger grant makers they usually have their procedures and application forms or advice clearly set out on-line.
Look also at those organisations offering loans on easy terms or with a grant element. This may provide a useful fall-back provision provided your organisation can really repay the loan on the terms they set. Do not forget that if you currently rent any buildings then by moving to a building you own you will save the rent, which may be used to build up the repayments if you are moving to a new building.
Apply to all the available grant-makers as soon as you can, listing the others you are asking and noting any grants already received. Don’t forget to look overseas. The Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture received a grant from a Swiss Foundation to purchase the land for its new building. Note that this came after they made an initial grant several years before and the director had followed this up by visiting them each year. It is that kind of relationship building which often plays a key role in securing the pivotal grants. Today there are many useful reference works for overseas grant makers and complete guides including on-line resources covering US foundations.
In a capital appeal, where you are engaging many more high level actors than usual do not forget to trawl them for contacts in grant making organisations, governments or companies. You may need to engage in several rounds of this going to see them and looking through the lists with them. Do not post or email these lists as people rarely respond to that. A face to face meeting is imperative to get real results and this is the only way to make capital appeals work. They are labour intensive and relationship based. Elsewhere it is advised to run a connections check on your key players, board members etc and this is where that can be invaluable; because you then know who they know and can bring up those connections in the discussions.
It is one thing to make that connection, another to have it put into play. Again letter or email writing is just not good enough and you will need to persuade your contact to meet and talk to their contact. This is not a hard sell meeting, but a discussion which allows the contact to understand the organisation and its aims from their friend or colleague’s perspective.
Some trustees do not welcome lobbying and in these cases you should not proceed after the first hint that it might be unwelcome. Others rarely give unless they know someone well within the organisation. Grant making charities in particular are idiosyncratic and perverse organisations; which will sometimes give completely outside their stated objectives, and at others refuse applications on the grounds they are outside their aims when they are clearly within.
As ever the organisation’s profile helps and building this before the appeal will give potential grant makers a view on your activities before they receive your application. This is not the same as publicising the appeal. It is the brilliance of your work you wish people to appreciate, not the fact you think you need a new building.
In many countries the national or regional lottery is a good source of capital appeal funds, and indeed a great many would stand no chance of success without a grant from a lottery. Lotteries are highly regulated and the grant-making process is usually very transparent, well set out and the procedures easy to access. Winning a lottery bid is, however, often as hard as winning the lottery itself. The applications are highly professional, very competitive and thorough. It is best to hire a professional who has a track record of successful applications to work with you to create a winning entry. They will, however, not do all the work and you will need to put in the same amount of time as if you were creating the application itself, if not more. Understanding the way the lottery, or indeed ay major grant maker, uses language is the key to success.


Though governments are not among the most obvious choices as capital appeal grant givers for certain organisations they are key. Again building your relationship over the years will stand you in good stead for the kind of helpful, friendly advice which can make all the difference to pitching your application correctly. Research is, as always, the starting point. Government’s priorities and organisation changes all the time. There may well be a new department or a new grant from an old department or an old grant may have shifted to a new department – be rigorous and take the time to check carefully as the work you now intend to do may have opened up new possibilities for you.
For example, in the UK, the Learning and Skills Council may fund the refurbishment and new build for a college taking on in some cases 90% of the cost. This is much more likely if you have built a good relationship over the years and they know and understand the value of the service your college provides. You will, however, have to find both that 10% and the funds for any services you wish to provide beyond their strict and fairly utilitarian limits e.g. restoring or conserving the historic building in which you might be delivering your service.
Governments in other countries may be able to help if your work has an international relevance, content or context and the EU may also be appropriate. Do not take applications to these organisations lightly the EU, UN and World Bank etc demand high level professional applications. If you are not up to speed on these internally do not learn during a capital appeal, but ask a fundraising consultancy to advise you.
With government it helps to know which way the wind is blowing, and your appeal advisory board should have at least one person on it who is well connected to the government. Of course, your organisation’s board of trustees and other advisors should have these connections, but if they are absent then this is then time to make belated amends for the oversight.


Capital appeal fundraising from companies is little different from ordinary fundraising, though it naturally tends to involve larger sums. The construction industry itself undertakes various charitable activities which it is worth considering especially if you have a relationship to one of the larger companies.
Often major donors will mention a donation from their company, and indeed this may be where their donation will come from. If it does it is then much harder to lead them to give personally, than if they had given first and then you had encouraged them to ask or order their company to give.
Companies can help you throughout a capital appeal in many ways and each way requires a different approach. If your charity is non-controversial and obviously a good cause, you stand a chance of receiving company funds. UK companies are not, however, major sources of income for most charities and give far below the level of American companies. In the US it is part of the corporate ethic to put money back into the community from which your profits derive, or at least in which your workers live. This is not necessarily the case in the UK where profits are seen as more properly going to shareholders, reinvestment or wages.
Companies are, however, a lot more organised and less secretive than they were a few years ago. Business in the Community, the Per Cent Club (embarrassingly unable to call itself the One Per Cent Club), the Action Resource Centre and the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, have all played their part. The Directory of Social Change publications have also helped strip away the mysteries about who has given to whom.
Business in the Community aims to ensure that businesses are socially responsible and also practically involved with their local communities. Education and Training, Urban Regeneration, Employee Volunteering, Women’s Economic Development, Local Economic Programmes and many others are all excellent examples of the programmes that Business in the Community fosters.
Enterprise Agencies are also a feature of its work, providing varied assistance to small businesses to develop. Other partnership programmes include the Action Resource Centre that provides secondments and gifts in kind for community purposes. A good secondment of skilled personnel can be of incalculable benefit to a capital appeal, though the cultural differences may take some getting used to on both sides. REACH, the Retired Executive Action Clearing House, can be of similar benefit, though after a lifetime of commuting, their executives often prefer to work outside major cities where capital appeals often take place.

Company Trusts

Many major companies have set up charitable foundations and they are approached in the same way as trusts. Indeed they should turn up when appropriate in your ordinary trust and grant-making agency research. Some have highly developed aims and objectives while others appear to give almost at random. There is a pattern to the development of these trusts. At first, the trust exists as little more than a bank account for the company’s charitable giving – often decided by the Chairperson or CEO. Then the trust acquires a committee and a more settled donations policy. Later on, it may acquire its own capital and begin to move away from a donations policy that, in any way, reflects company objectives e.g. the Ford Foundation. These trusts may be named after the company, the original owner, or may just have an insignificant name to put would-be applicants off the scent. One major company is famous for always giving anonymously.
Many companies, and individuals, sometimes use the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) in preference to setting up their own trust. They give their donations, or covenant a sum, to CAF and then tell CAF how to distribute this money. Alternatively, they use the CAF voucher system to direct money to appropriate charitable causes. The charity receives a CAF Voucher which it cashes in like a cheque with CAF. A small fee is charged for this service, which incidentally goes to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) which created CAF.


The first step towards raising significant sums from trusts is research. If your organisation has a history of making applications, successful or otherwise, the most obvious place to start is your own filing cabinet. Hopefully all previous correspondence with trusts will have been kept in good order in separate files, one per trust. Careful perusal of this correspondence, along with any notes that may have been taken during meetings, conversations or from previous research will be invaluable as you begin to understand the animals you are dealing with. Asking other members of your organisation for information can also yield important information.
Where no previous relationships with Trusts have been developed, other avenues of research must be used. The first task will be to ascertain which of the many thousands of Charitable Trusts in the UK and overseas are your potential funders, a job which is made easier by a wide range of publications, hard and electronic. Good directories and periodicals are a good investment, providing the Trust Fundraiser with information regarding background, general and philanthropic history, grantmaking potential, geographical scope and aims – along with guidance as to preferred methods of approach. Charity Commission files can be consulted for information regarding UK registered grantmakers.
Training workshops, special interest groups, seminars and speaker meetings are also useful ports of call for the Trust Fundraiser and should be seen as part of the ongoing process of developing understanding and keeping abreast.

Managing relationships brilliantly

It is essential to manage your relationships with the trust staff and trustees well. Remember that institutions are staffed and run by humans. Engaging with these people, developing a relationship and moving them just as you would rich individuals is a powerful tool to helping them understand your work and desire to help if it is humanly possible.
Always read through trust guidelines and advice about how the trust wishes to be contacted by the charity. You will find that some trusts do not like to be phoned, others welcome phone calls. Nearly all trusts are annoyed if they are asked questions about information that is available on their website or in guidelines they have already sent you. For an example of trust guidelines, here are the funding guidelines for City Parochial Foundation.
Particular attention should be paid to requests that the Trust may have made of your organisation in the past, for example, that a gap of two years should be left between applications or that it is not necessary to send a general Annual Review with reports. Honouring such requests will set you apart from less careful operators who make extra work for the Trust Administrator- and your chances of success will increase. You must be conscious of any contributions the Trust has made in the past, and acknowledge this when contact is renewed.
Some trusts won’t give you information about how they wish to be contacted or how often. In that case it is a good rule of thumb to apply for new funding 10 or 11 months after you received first donation (or just before their trustee meeting if you know when that is) and to send a report six months after receiving the donation. One should also offer the trustees and trust staff the opportunity to see the work in action and invite them to events and fundraisers. Create introductory or other events just for people like them although bear in mind that many trusts will not appreciate being invited to costly events.Where trusts are run by families or the settlor is still alive it can be appropriate to treat the trustees as Major Donors.
Reports on the work will need to be well written. Now boomers run the grant-making institutions they are demanding a very professional level of monitoring and evaluation. You will need to be certain of your indices of change (how you measure the effectiveness of the way you meet the needs of your clients) and that you really use them to evaluate your work properly. Have you undertaken a rigorous baseline survey of the needs you are meeting? If you don’t measure your success how do you know you are doing work worth funding? If this makes no sense to you, then your appeal is in serious trouble and your organisation should pause to develop these tools before proceeding. Do become familiar with log-frames short for logical frameworks as used by the UN and EU.

The marketing budget

Cause related marketing (CRM) is the phrase often used to induce companies to take up a relationship with a charity. It is based on research which has shown that companies that have an ethical component to their work would attract and retain customers better than those without if they use that relationship in their marketing. At worst this is simplistic. If you ask people would they rather buy an ethical product they will say ‘Yes’ but if you ask them would they buy an ethical product from an unknown company you might find that brand loyalty and awareness is a living concept. All that is just to say, that you must tailor your approach carefully. Is your proposal really going to help the company market its products or develop its brand values? As ever research carefully and fit your approach to the prospect.
Companies’ advertising budgets are, however, usually where the money comes from when you ask a company to take an advertisement in your concert programme. The trick here is to imagine how you can help the marketing managers reach their goals. Does the company sell to children or to pensioners or to anyone else you might help them reach? Do you have a schools’ programme where, with some lateral thinking, the school, your organisation and the company can all benefit? Do you have a large donor-base that matches the characteristics of a company’s target audience? What are your members buying anyway, and would they like to see part of the price they pay coming back to their favourite charity? For once, look for solutions to company problems rather than solutions for your problems.
If you have a large membership of professional people a company may be interested in selling those people a range of financial services through advertising in your newsletter, or by paying to mail to your members,(ensure you are registered for trading in the Data Protection Register and your members have agreed to this use of their personal details). If you have the sort of organisation where people enjoy the outdoors, many companies will want to reach your members to sell them boots, rucksacks, sleeping bags, etc.
If the company is looking to market its product with a new socially responsible image, then they may wish to sponsor activities that will help with this marketing concept. For example, Reebok sponsored a world tour by internationally known rock stars for Amnesty International, which went to several countries around the world, and was a massive sell-out gaining huge publicity; but the cost was even larger (dwarfing the income so Reebok had to dig deep into its pockets). This level of generous sponsorship is unfortunately very rare.
In the public phase of your appeal, companies may be willing to support events or give you the publicity you seek through partnering in other ventures, such as newspapers producing special editions or additional inserted material, or book-shops adding charity Christmas editions to their counters e.g. the Declaration of Human Rights illustrated by Ralf Steadman produced for the Medical Foundation by Waterstones.
Beware, however, if companies just want to put your logo on T-shirts or other goods, without any money coming directly to you. Buyers will expect you to benefit (which is why they bought the goods), and if your logo is worthwhile using it is worthwhile paying for. The publicity you achieve will be negligible but the income could really help. Once you have given away your logo you will find it hard to sell it to another company. Do also think twice about having just your phone number on products. Is this your target audience? Do you really want all these people phoning you to express support or ask for information?


You will usually find that most of your money from the companies’ marketing budget will be given in the form of sponsorship. This is assumed to be another distinct area and if you are in the arts, music, or sports fields, then you stand more chance than most, (though sponsorship of major sporting events is really just advertising by another name). Sponsorship is rarely wholly and exclusively a business expense, much of it is considered to be pure philanthropy and the charity may have to produce two invoices to separate out the elements.

The social responsibility fund

Another company budget is that for social responsibility. To tap this budget you need to be able to command a high profile and to be the kind of organisation that the company’s customers love to support. Do not feel you are doing the company too many favours. Interestingly, a survey of European youth has shown that for those under 25, it is the major companies’ brand names that have integrity and charisma not charities; though the charity connection does sometimes add a competitive edge to a popular brand name. Again, imaginative schemes with a high profile get the best results. Think out how the company can obtain something special for key customers, suppliers or other significant people they do business with. Celebrities are an obvious link.
Cultivate your celebrities carefully, so that they understand how important it is for you if they can act as your ambassadors at company related events. Think beyond a celebrity performing for you for free. All that often happens is that you save their fee for the night and have the headache of putting on an event you know very little about running. Many charities would be better off paying the celebrity, which would allow them to hold the event at the best time of year and actually pack the most appropriate venue, rather than have it two thirds or half full.
Think about secondment of staff to your charity. Could you use a first rate accountant for your capital appeal period? What would they get out of working for you? Sometimes this arrangement can be mutually beneficial, as companies restructure or individuals need to broaden their horizons and experiences. Often the association persists long after the official period is over. In many cases, however, companies simply wish to be associated with a good cause and to be thought altruistic rather than just profit-oriented. In these cases, your charity will need to have a high profile and be safely non-controversial. It should deal with subjects that the public at large have a great deal of sympathy with, such as medical charities, pets, and children, all in the UK.
One of the most helpful types of assistance from companies is the use of the company’s Communications or PR company. Any capital appeal can benefit from professional communications to the wider word, and it is a rare charity that has the scope and reach of a top PR company. Do put aside any reservations you have about such companies and work hand-in-glove with their staff to put your appeal and / or organisation into the public’s conscience.

The Chairman’s fund

Though an endangered species, the chairman’s fund lingers on in some companies. Of course, you can go straight for a company donation from the Chairperson or CEO if they are supporters or become sympathetic, though it is still best to do your homework and look at the previous pattern of their company’s giving first. For many small companies asking the owner is the only route. As always, do not assume the person you talk to has any knowledge of your charity, and be very specific in stating what the problem is and how the money will be spent to alleviate it. Ask for specific amounts. If successful, ask again the following year, after having reported back on how the money was used and what it achieved.
Companies want to create goodwill in their locality and a great deal of company giving is done locally. Your local group may have more success than you would from the centre. They also like to be responsive to their workforce. Many company schemes are dependent on ideas that must originate from within their workforce, so look to see who on your donor-base is linked to a potentially useful company.
As you engage with companies think through which part of your involvement is best undertaken for the capital appeal and which for revenue needs. Capital appeals can leech money from revenue whilst they run and this is sometimes a way of compensating for that.
The cultivation programme applies to companies as well as individuals, albeit that they are represented in this programme by their Chairperson, CEO or other top executives. Do meet them if at all possible and if not treat the company rather as you would a large grant making agency with whom you can make a series of bids.
As ever, apply and even if you do not succeed apply again unless you receive a refusal which makes it clear they are unlikely to ever fund your organisation.

The key to successful fundraising from institutions

Institutions have their procedures and these must be followed rigorously. Do exactly as the forms ask, read and follow the guidelines ensuring you are meeting the institution’s objectives not just your own.
Though that is obvious and essential it can be greatly enhanced by remembering that institutions are staffed and run by humans. Engaging with these people, developing a relationship and moving them just as you would rich individuals is a powerful tool to helping them understand your work and desire to help if it is humanly possible.
Invite them to your events, to see the work and to meet key players. Create introductory or other events just for people like them e.g. trustees, local business, government officials etc. and you may see your ability to reach that target sum grow stronger and stronger.

Grant-makers Online

It’s hugely time consuming for a charity or NGO to search the web for organizations that might support it financially. Databases are well beyond the means of smaller charities and most organizations in the developing world, and with a few exceptions databases offer a limited analysis of what grant makers actually support, and the best source of information is therefore grant maker’s website.
Grantmakers Online is more than a database. It’s a philanthropic community, powered by its users who can share what they know and benefit from other people’s sharing. If Charities won’t share for the common good, who will?
Grantmakers Online is still evolving and currently contains almost 6,000 entries. If a Grantmaker isn’t included tell us straight away (or add it yourself). If a link doesn’t work, report it immediately. It only takes a second and can benefit thousands of people.
Log on to today – it’s free and will remain free if you participate.
“We are very excited about Grantmakers Online. The site is still in early stages of development, its growth and evolution will depend on its users. We have many plans for its advancement and think it has a good deal of potential,” says David Wickert, Chapel & York’s Chief Executive.
Since 1997, Chapel & York’s clients have raised over $616 million for organizations and projects around the world. See or call +44 1342 871910 for more information.