£5m fund received almost £200m of applications, report finds

The Weston Anniversary Fund, which was opened last year, received more than 2,300 applications, almost three-quarters of which were made in the final three days

The report
The report

A £5m fund opened by the Garfield Weston Foundation last year received more than 2,300 applications from charities totalling almost £200m, a new report says.

The foundation’s Weston Anniversary Fund, marking the charity’s 60th year, offered grants of between £30,000 and £150,000 to support the improvement of existing facilities or the creation of new facilities for local communities in the UK.

A report on the fund, written by the academic Beth Breeze and the philanthropy adviser Clare Wilkinson, says the funds was open to applications between 5 January and 30 June last year.

It says the foundation received more than 2,300 applications during that period, including 1,700 in the last three days before the deadline, with funding requests totalling £192m.

The report says the foundation decided to more than double the amount of funding available and approved 156 grants totalling £11.1m.

The report says successful applicants shared four common features:

- A demonstrable impact on the local community

- Appropriate costs in relation to the benefit

- Sensible business plans that could absorb additional revenue costs

- Clear leadership.

It says key findings from the application process included that small charities appreciated a straightforward and clear online application process and that a lack of time, capacity and expertise to make an application was highlighted as an issue for many charities, particularly smaller ones.

It says applicants were "keenly aware that the WAF was highly over-subscribed".

It adds: "Grantees, unsurprisingly, framed this in more positive language in terms of being appreciative that foundation staff managed expectations with email updates about the volume of applications that had been submitted."

The report says the foundation had a 12 per cent increase in regular applications from charities in 2018 compared with the previous year.

"The need for resources to fund good work across the country is clearly high, with no sign of demand abating on the horizon," it says.

The report’s recommendations include that the foundation reviews whether the "broad criteria and generous window for making applications" were positives in terms of reaching a large number of potential applicants or a negative in terms of resulting in a very low success ratio.

Philippa Charles, director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: "We always seek to learn so we can continually improve, so we felt it was important to understand the experiences of both successful and unsuccessful charities when it came to applying for the Anniversary Fund.

"We were delighted by such a positive response and the feedback has already enabled us to make improvements to our guidance and to develop new ideas to engage and support applicants."

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