Institute of Fundraising: Guide to applying for funds from grant-making trusts

What is a trust? A trust is a fiduciary relationship whereby a person, or persons (trustees), holds and manages property for the benefit of one or more others (beneficiaries).

OK. But what does fiduciary mean? Fiduciary means 'in good faith' or 'in trust'. So this means trustees of a trust have to act in the interests of the trust. A trust's purposes and rules are set out in its governing instruments.

So how does my organisation apply for a grant from a trust? First of all you need to define the need that you would like to be met. For example, for general purposes, for a special project or for a building or equipment. Only then can you identify prospective funders. And you should only make an application after you have conducted research into previous approaches that your organisation has made to trusts, in order to find trusts that match your needs, and to obtain guidelines for applying for grants. You should ensure that you do not apply for amounts beyond the trust's funding limits or for grants that fall outside of the remit of the trust. There is some information on useful resources for researching trusts under 'Fundraising Resources' in the information section of the Institute's website.

Can you tell me about the application process? You must make an honest application and not mislead the trust in any way. You should ensure that project timescales fit in with the assessment plans of the trust and you should explain how the project will be monitored.

What should I do if the application is accepted? News of an accepted application ought to be acknowledged promptly, confirming the purpose of the grant and thanking the trustees. Any requirements conditional to the grant ought to be agreed in writing.

Once the project has got underway, you should keep the trust informed of progress and fulfil any special reporting requirements.

If your appeals are so successful that you have more money than you need for the project, then you must return the parts back to the trust, unless they give permission otherwise. And if your appeal to a trust isn't successful, then you should accept the trust's decision.

For further information, see the Institute's Code, 'Fundraising from Grant-Making Trusts', produced in co-operation with the Association of Charitable Foundations (www.acf.org.uk).

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