Big giver: John Ellerman Foundation

Nicola Pollock, director of the foundation, says the organisation has reviewed its application process to make it more focused

Nicola Pollock
Nicola Pollock

After a review of its grant-making strategy, the John Ellerman Foundation has relaunched its website to make clearer what it wants to see in applications.

Nicola Pollock, director of the foundation, says it has reduced the number of its fundraising categories from five to three - welfare, which will get 50 per cent of the available funding, arts and the environment. The last two categories will each receive 25 per cent from the funding pot, which this year totals £4.2m.

The decision to review the foundation's application process and grant-making activities was made a year ago after the trustees went on an awayday. Pollock says: "They were aware of the difficult external environment for charities and their beneficiaries, so they looked at how the foundation related to other foundations."

After consulting past recipients and applicants, and reviewing its existing policies and practices, the foundation decided to be more specific about what it funds and focus on creating a "national footprint" by funding small and medium-sized charities that have national impact.

"The approach is an evolution of where we've come from," Pollock says. "We decided the foundation would remain a responsive, flexible grant-maker, but we recognised that greater focus was needed and would benefit both applicants and ourselves."

The foundation funds charities with incomes of between £100,000 and £10m. It will continue to provide core funding, which last year made up 70 per cent of its grants.

Recent examples include £50,000 over two years to the Rambert Dance Company through a core costs grant, with a specific contribution to the music director's post. The London-based dance company was considered to have national significance because it tours, commissions new work and trains young choreographers.

The foundation awarded £75,000 over three years to the National Communities Resource Centre in Chester, which offers residential training and support to people from low-income communities.

The foundation also supports the Family Futures programme, an adoption and therapy initiative set up to address problems such as domestic violence and poor parenting, because an evaluation pilot showed that 90 per cent of families stuck with it, and beneficiaries helped to develop it.

Pollock says the foundation funds charities that bring tangible benefits at a significant scale. "It's important to harness the power of volunteers - not just getting large numbers of them, but working on how they engage and contribute," she says.

"We look for collaboration and partnership working - not necessarily in a formal way, but to build a good understanding of other people and organisations working in the same area."

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