Big Giver: Erach and Roshan Sadri Foundation

The foundation makes small grants and avoids long-term commitment, its director Mark Cann tells Kaye Wiggins

Where does the money come from?

The Erach and Roshan Sadri Foundation was set up in 2005 to distribute a legacy worth more than £6.5m left by Roshan Sadri, who died in 2003. She and her husband had built up a profitable luggage importing business.

Mark Cann, director of the foundation, says Roshan's will did not make it clear which charities she wanted to give the money to.

"She wanted to leave the money to charity, but she wasn't very specific about how she wanted it to be spent," he says.

"The executors of the will - her brother, her former accountant and a member of staff from her company - decided to set up the foundation to give out the funds."

Who does it fund?

The foundation chose homelessness, education, welfare and assisting members of the Zoroastrian faith as its main areas of work.

It awards grants to charities based in the UK and India. Most of the charities it supports have annual incomes of less than £1.5m. "We try to be very clear on our website about what our criteria are," says Cann.

"We want applications that are concise. A lot of the applications we receive are verbose, to say the least. It puts me right off."

How much will it give?

When the foundation was set up, its founders expected that it would give out the £6.5m within 15 years. It gives out about £600,000 a year, through about 100 grants worth between £2,000 and £50,000. A typical grant is worth between £10,000 and £20,000.

The foundation gives out only one-year funding, but Cann says it looks favourably on applications from groups to which it has already given money.

"We don't like long-term commitments," he says. "If a charity that we fund is doing continuing work, we would encourage it to reapply every year, but we wouldn't guarantee to fund it. It can make a charity complacent."

Reporting back

Cann says one of the foundation's priorities is visiting the charities it funds, in the UK and overseas. Its grant monitoring form is relatively short and straightforward.

"The idea is to make life easy for the charities," he says.

"Once we've decided that we trust them, we don't want to burden them with justifying how they have spent every penny. You've got to have faith in people."

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