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  • Suzie Rees

5 steps to successful trust fundraising in your small charity - part 1

If you’re interested in setting up trusts fundraising at your small charity, it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. If you don’t have the resources to bring in additional support, here are my top tips for getting started, and getting the key building blocks in place.


Step 1 - build your hit list!


Do your prospect research, and investigate what funding is out there. A great starting point is to check out who is funding charities similar to yours - charities with a similar cause area, geographical area, and/or income level are all things to look at. Once you know which charities to look at, have a read through their annual report/accounts on the Charity Commission webpage, or check out the charity’s own website to see which they thank or acknowledge or thank for support. Do this for a few similar charities and you’ll start to build up a good picture of the main funders in your space - the ones that come up multiple times are great ones to start with! There are also lots of free funding databases out there to take a look at.


Once you’ve got a list of potentials, you can then look in more detail at each funder. Using their website (if there is one) or the trust’s Charity Commission listing (funders are charities too!) find out their funding interests and eligibility criteria, the size of grants they usually give out, and how to apply. Discount any that aren’t a good fit with your charity - it’s easy to think they will make an exception just this once as your charity is so great, but in reality, this is unlikely.

Step 2 - get your spreadsheets ready!


Please don’t groan! It is absolutely essential in trust fundraising to have a way of tracking which trusts you have applied to, for what, and how they’ve responded. Especially once you start securing grants, it’s vital to help you build relationships with trusts who have funded you, so you know when you last spoke to them, when reports and updates are due, and when you are next due to apply.


One of the easiest ways to put a trust off funding you is to accidently apply twice for different projects, or to forget they’ve funded you, or apply when you can’t reapply for a set period of time..


A simple excel or google sheet works fine, or if your org has a CRM you could use that too.

You might end up loving spreadsheets (I do!).


Step 3 - build your case for support!


Now is the time to pull together key information on your project and organisation - things like the need you’re addressing, your solution, how you know it works, budget, your impact and targets.


Once you’ve got all this info together, refine your wording - keep it short, snappy and remove any waffle to make sure you keep the reader engaged. Think active words; keep it simple with no jargon. My top tip is to imagine you are speaking to an elderly relative - funders are unlikely to have any prior knowledge of your org or project and will be reading a lot of applications. I used to send applications to my mum (who is in her 80s) to see if they made sense to her!


You can then use the info in your case for support to: 1.fill in application forms, and 2: create a kind of ‘master application’ for your project, to be tailored or used for a base for specific funders who don’t require a form. Add some photos and a nice layout and you’re almost there!


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