The Tudor Trust radically widened its grant-making criteria two years ago, abandoning specific themes and programmes in favour of more general guidelines for applicants.
The focus is on small groups that have grown from communities, provide direct services to them and involve service users. The current funding position rules out some applicants, including groups working with disabled people, uniformed youth groups and animals or small children. The average grant is about £50,000, which can span a number of years, and the trust also makes grants to cover core and capital costs.
The wider remit has not increased the number of applications, which remains about 3,200 a year. About one in 10 of these gets funding. But it has increased the breadth of the applications, according to Nicky Lappin, research and information manager at the trust. "We are seeing applications from a wider variety of groups, addressing issues ranging from sexual violence to gangs and conflict resolution work, and we are also funding a lot of smaller organisations," she says. Last year, about 65 per cent of grants went to organisations with annual turnovers of less than £250,000.
About three-quarters of successful applicants had previously had funding from the trust, and about a third were receiving direct continuation funding. So although the breadth of funding has increased, the main pool of applicants has not changed much.
The trust has also introduced a two-stage application process to reduce the time and resources applicants spend on their first approaches. At the first stage, applications get turned around very quickly, and the trust then works closely with organisations that get through to the second round. The majority of these (392 of 436 last year) do receive funding.
"You do have to be aware that it is very difficult, if you are funding across a very diverse area, to assess your impact as a grant maker," says Lappin. "You can track individual applications, and to a degree you can compare subject areas, but because we have such a wide focus we have a much more diverse impact. The best thing is that it is really enjoyable, and liberating, being able to fund so widely."