Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust closes to new applications while trustees assess future

The trust says it is considering whether to spend out in two to three years or offer smaller grants, enabling it to last longer

Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust
Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust

The grant-maker the Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust has closed to new applications while trustees consider how to prolong its life because it is running out of money.

The trust, which funds charities working with children and young people, and disabled and disadvantaged people, has given out more than £12m in grants since it was founded in 1996 using money from the sale of the antiques dealer Sylvia Adams’s personal antique collection.

The charity, which previously made grants of between £3,000 and £5,000, with occasional larger awards of up to £50,000, closed to new grant applicants on Sunday. It does not expect to reopen for applications until at least the summer and is unlikely to start giving out grants until next year.

When it reopens, the trust expects to offer a reduced amount of funding and use a significantly different decision-making process.

Jane Young, director of the trust, said: "We’ve been reducing capital since 2008 and we’ve got to the point now where we had to make a decision about whether to spend out quite quickly or to reconsider how we used our remaining assets."

She said it was possible that the trust would opt to continue spending at the current rate, but this was likely to mean that the organisation would last only a further two or three years. It was therefore more likely, said Young, that the trust would offer smaller amounts of funding, which could enable it to operate for another 15 years.

She said the trust was considering changes to its entire model, including the cause areas it funded and whether to hold open applications or to solicit bids. She said it was possible the trust would look at new ways of securing income, but that this was not yet a priority.

"We want to continue to do as much good as we can with the resources we’ve got," said Young. "We’ll be asking people we’ve worked with in the past what they’ve particularly liked about the way we’ve done things and what has made the biggest impact. We’ll be consulting as many people as possible."

The trust had an income of £209,000 and spent £1.5m in the year to March 2014, its accounts show. It also held £6m in reserves.

Susannah Birkwood

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