At Work: Fundraising - Funding story - The Tudor Trust

Radhika Holmstrom

The Tudor Trust is that rare thing in the field of grant-making - an organisation that is happy to provide core funding.

Whether it's described as 'core funding' for general running costs or 'unrestricted income', money that enables an organisation to get on with its job is extremely hard to find.

Almost all the respondents to a recent nfpSynergy survey agreed that "more unrestricted funding streams are urgently needed". One mournfully said: "We're just trying to keep our head above water, providing what thousands tell us they want from us. All we really want are the resources to reach thousands more - not to invent 'projects'."

But this kind of funding isn't very exciting for grant-givers and is also considered harder to evaluate than funding for an 'extra' - what's more, it's particularly hard to get it from statutory sources.

Social researcher Helen Kara says organisations frequently tell her that grant-makers will "fund an additional worker, but often that is not what is needed". Consequently, grant-making bodies that do provide core funding are heavily in demand.

This financial year, the Tudor Trust resumed making grants to new organisations after a year of reconsidering its priorities - it remains unusual in the field for the degree of core funding it gives, which is one reason why it's hugely oversubscribed. About 60 per cent of the money the trust has already awarded under its new funding guidelines is for core costs or functions.

"If we are convinced by the vision and work of the whole organisation, we will often be prepared to fund the 'underpinnings'," says Nicky Lappin, research and information manager at the trust. "We do need to see budgets and we have fairly precise figures on what the money is being allocated to, but we're certainly not tying people down to every penny that they spend. They know what needs doing - what they want is the general support to carry on with their regular work."

The trust has distributed £17.5m in its most recent grant-making year.

So far it has made only 61 grants under the new guidelines, and it's going to take time to assess what impact they're having, especially as the trust deliberately doesn't set stringent evaluation criteria. For the moment, though, it's sticking with its policy of funding functions. "It might not be exciting or glamorous, but it's fundamental to the organisation as a whole," says Lappin. And it means more charities can keep their heads above water.

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