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  • Suzie Rees

5 steps to successful trust fundraising in your small charity - part 2

Following on from my last post, here are my last two tips in setting up trust fundraising in your small charity. You’ve now got the fundamentals of trust fundraising in place (see my previous blog!) and want to get going with the work of actually applying for funds..

Step 4 - get some applications out!

Use your case for support and/or master application to create tailored applications to the trusts you’ve identified. Make sure you follow their guidelines and even if there aren’t any, include their name and interests, spell out why your project is a good fit and demonstrate you’ve done your research. Also include a specific grant request which is in line with their usual funding levels for first time grantees. If you can email your application in, great - but make sure you ask them to acknowledge receipt. If not, you may need to rely on an old fashioned letter…lots of smaller trusts are quite old school. Make sure you include a covering letter with your application too.

If you’re able to ring or email for a chat first, all the better - you can ask them about prospects for new applications, when you’ll hear back, or just generally check if you fit their criteria, and they’ll have heard your name and know a little about you before they read your applications. Some trusts do not like phone calls though so only ring if they say you can!

As a general rule for cold approaches, across all your applications in total, aim to apply for 10 times more than the total amount you need. This builds in some rejections, and if you end up in the happy situation of having more funding than you need, this is a great reason to have a chat with the funder, explain the situation and ask to alter what you spend the grant on - you could either expand the project (timescale or activity-wise) or ask to use the grant for something similar. Trusts are fairly unlikely to say no once they’ve decided you are worth funding.

Step 5 - play the waiting game!

Trusts are slowwww, so allow 6 months to hear back unless they tell you otherwise. Often you may just receive a letter with a cheque attached. If you haven’t heard anything after 6 months you could call/email to check, but I’d generally assume you’ve been unsuccessful.

It’s worth being in mind trusts are massively oversubscribed, so don’t be disheartened if you receive a fair number of rejections - it’s not a reflection on your cause or project. But if you send out plenty of applications (apply to a lot more trusts than you think you need to), you should have a few successes in there too!

Enjoy the moment! Share your genuine excitement by calling to say thanks, and send a formal letter too. Make sure you note any reporting requirements and keep in touch with how your project is going. This includes any problems or delays - trusts will appreciate you keeping them informed, and it’s a great opportunity to build relationships. At the end of the year (or grant period) send them a short report with photos as a minimum - or follow their requirements if they ask for something more. You can have a chat about submitting a further application at this point too.


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