A Guide to Trust Fundraising

A Guide to Trust Fundraising


A handy guide to trust fundraising, from preparation to application.


Trust fundraising is often the area in which charities take their first tentative steps. There's a sense that if the case for support is strong and the work is high quality then there's a good chance of success. There's also a sense of security in the idea that we won't have to engage with donors.

There are some trusts and foundations that are happy just to assess an application and send a cheque. But charities are often frustrated that trusts aren't as safe a bet as they'd hoped. The idea that if you meet a certain standard you will receive a grant is often met with disappointment.

Trusts and foundations is a generic term for a wide and diverse set of charitable bodies. Their motivations and ways of operating are as idiosyncratic as the individuals they represent. This is a key point when looking at this form of fundraising. Charities may begin with trusts because they fear they lack the skills to deal with 'real' donors. But many trusts are just tax-efficient legal structures representing the interests of wealthy individuals.

In fundraising you have to face your fears to succeed.

How to go about trust fundraising

A grant application is an invitation to support an organisation in delivering its aims. The first thing to do is to ensure that your own house is in order before seeking external support. The trust needs to have confidence that you can deliver its aims and your own to a high standard before it invests.

Organisational Value Chain: getting your house in order

When talking about maximising voluntary income with organisations, I use a model I've developed called the 'Organisational Value Chain'. It helps to review the scope of work:

1. Work
Is your mission and vision clear? Does the work reflect it and is that work excellent?

2. Governance
Are your board and associated committeees operating at an optimum level? Are they opening doors for you and are your financial and other procedures in place?

3. Audiences
Are you communicating coherent messages about your work and fundraising to your audiences, both internal and external?

When all these elements of your organisation are operating at an optimum level, you are in a position to further develop your income generation, whatever its existing scope or scale.

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Fundraising Trusts
Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2016