Fundraising: Grantmaker set to widen its applications criteria

The Tudor Trust has widened its guidelines for awarding grants to charitable bodies after trustees realised that previous applicants had been "shoehorning" their projects to fit the trust's themes and programmes.

The trust, which gave away just under £17.5m to about 500 organisations last year, makes grants to small community groups throughout the UK. This year, it has shifted away from strict funding priorities in favour of more general guidelines for applicants.

"Tudor has always tried to be a reactive trust, responding to what comes through the letterbox," said Matt Dunwell, the trust's chair of trustees.

"We felt that some funding applications might have been shoehorned into our funding priorities. Our best funding comes from helping applicants to follow their noses."

In 2004 and 2005, the trust set 10 funding priorities, including mental health services, housing and services for older people. Each priority was subdivided into smaller criteria, such as crisis services or self-help projects.

Although the trust will continue to make grants across established areas of funding, it is now also seeking applications from groups with turnovers of less than £1m and which have a general objective of being "committed to growth, progression and development".

David Emerson, chief executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, believes the Tudor Trust to be unique in making such a change. "Many charities are concerned about what is known as 'mission drift', where they adapt their priorities to what money is available," he says. "It's a commendable approach to make sure that grants respond to the real needs of society."

Nicky Lappin, research and information manager at the trust, said: "We have missed a lot of interesting work in the past. We are hoping to help organisations to be more imaginative."

Lappin believes the new guidelines, with looser criteria, will be more effective. The trust has also introduced a two-stage application process, designed to reduce the time and resources applicants spend on their first approaches for funding.

The first stage requires organisations to answer four questions, including "what difference can your organisation make and how do you want to achieve this?"

The new guidelines can be found on the trust's website, at www.tudortrust.org.uk.

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