One key tip to improve your trust fundraising
by Amy Appleton
One of the most common challenges that fundraisers face is lack of time. Whether you are part of a small and stretched fundraising team or you are responsible for fundraising in addition to your other roles, lack of capacity is likely to be an issue you face. So, I want to share just one change you can make to improve the success of your trust fundraising.

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You won’t be surprised to discover that grants administrators and grant-making trustees are time-poor too. Receiving more applications than they can fund, filtering out unsuccessful applications can be an arduous task. With this in mind, we have to accept that it is very unlikely that the trustees will read your application. Instead, the grants administrator will read it and create a small summary and this is what the trustees will consider. In smaller trusts without an administrator, it is likely that just one trustee will review and make your case to the board. Either way, it is highly unlikely that every trustee will review your entire application. So, whilst it is still imperative that you write a robust, considered and compelling application, one of the most fundamental things to think about is how well one person will be able to articulate your application on your behalf.

There is one particular trick that can make this easy. Look at how the funder describes the work they already fund. Due to limited time, in most cases it is likely that the charity summaries on the website or accounts are the same as the short summary the administrator wrote to present to the trustees in the first case. From the way in which a funder describes a charity they have funded, you can gain valuable insight and trends whilst also unearthing what is most important to the funder:

- Do they focus on a particular area or element such as beneficiary involvement, geography or innovation for example?

- What length is the summary?

- What language does the funder use?

Ten trusts and foundations who do this really well are:

- Garfield Weston

- Lloyds Bank Foundation

- Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

- City Bridge Trust

- Masonic Charitable Foundation

- Henry Smith Charity

- Lankelly Chase

- Cripplegate Foundation

- Sir James Knott Trust

- Barnwood Trust

Once you have had a look through the grant-holder case studies, you can use this to shape the style of your executive summary. Begin each application by providing a summary in the preferred style of the funder. Yes, it may take a little more time to research the case studies and tailor your application to the funder, but, over time, this will become a vital part of your trust application process. The benefits of which are two-fold, not only will this be well-received by stretched grants administrators (reducing their workload and putting your charity in their good books), it will also mean you have more control over what is presented to the reviewing panel. You can ensure that key points aren’t lost in translation, emphasise your most compelling areas and give your application the best possible chance of success – not a waste of time at all!

Do you struggle to find the time for fundraising? We specialise in helping small to medium size charities in the UK to develop their fundraising programmes and to secure funding for core costs and ongoing services. Get in touch with me at to see if we can help to build your capacity.