Trusts and Foundations

Charitable Trusts and FoundationsBaring Foundation


There are about 9,000 grant-making trusts and foundations, each of which has been established to give grants to support charitable activity, including the arts.

Normally every trust has specific areas that it will support, and all will usually list areas it will not support. The majority only give funds to organisations that are established charities.

Therefore it is essential to research trusts to identify those that include arts as an area they are willing to consider supporting. In certain cases the arts may not be specifically mentioned as either being an area they will support or exclude, but it may indicate an interest in ‘projects that assist disadvantaged young people’, and if the aims of your arts project is to assist in that area it may be worth applying. Finding out what projects have been supported by the trust in the past can help you judge whether that trust is worth applying to for your project. Keep an eye out for information on trusts supporting equivalent arts organisations or projects as that can be a useful guide. Closely matching your project against the trust’s criteria for support is crucial as there is fierce competition for Trust funding and so applications without a clear match are a waste of time.

As the decision making process can often be quite lengthy you need to apply far in advance of the planned project as trusts generally will not fund work that has already taken place.

This factsheet Applying to Trusts published by the Voluntary Arts Network is a good introduction.

There’s a number of websites that can offer advice. KnowHow NonProfit for example is a site for non-profit organisations to learn and share what they have learnt with others.

http://knowhownonprofit.org/funding/fundraising/grants-funds-and-corporate-fundraising/trusts-and-foundations

They offer 8 useful tips.

Do's and don’ts

  1. If there is an application form, read the guidelines and complete it in draft form first. And keep a copy.
  2. If you are presenting a proposal ensure you put a clear justification for the project – what evidence do you have that it is needed? Wanted? And the most appropriate solution?
  3. Do include the supporting information requested.
  4. Don’t include lots of superfluous background material that hasn’t been asked for.
  5. Do attach a covering letter that summarises the case you are making for their funding in an objective rather than an emotive way.
  6. Do ensure you have included all of your correct contact details and the appropriate person has signed the letter or form.
  7. Do ensure you include any references requested. Don’t say that these will follow.
  8. Do ask a “critical friend” to read through and review your proposal.