Applying to Grant Making Trusts

If you want to ask for grants, the first step is to find out what grant making bodies give money to organisations and projects like yours.

For example, imagine the John Scroggins Foundation only gives money to community organisations that work with children, and you need money to repair a leaky roof. In order to get a grant from them, you should show them that your church building is the centre of the community, how the church serves the community, and how having a dry building will allow you to run mums and toddlers groups, and welcome school groups etc.

Questions to ask yourself before you start:

Have you got a charity number? A lots of trusts will ask for your charity number as part of the application. If your PCC has an income of under £100k per annum and does not have a charity number, you will need to explain that you are excepted per the Charity Commission rules and to provide your Tax Ref as an alternative.

Do you want money for a one off or ongoing support? Most grant making bodies give money for particular projects rather than doing ongoing work. Many have particular criteria which they must satisfy – you need to show them how your project fulfils their criteria.

This is a competitive market – lots of groups will be competing for the same grants! How should you write a good application?

  • Find out how each trust likes to be approached, and how they want their applications to be made. Tailor each application for each trust – don’t go for a one size fits all approach.
  • Be proud of what you’re trying to achieve – believe passionately in what you’re doing!
  • Be honest, open and truthful
  • Don’t prioritise the features of what you want to do – how many new pipes your organ needs – but what the benefits of restoring it will be – beautiful music!
  • What makes your project, your church, different from all the others asking for money? Be specific, and tell people! Don’t assume they will know.
  • People don’t give to organisations, they give to people. Show how your project will help real people – what difference will it make in their lives.
  • Crisis fundraising raises more in the short term, but positive fundraising raises more in the long term. Besides, if you imply the church will close if you don’t get this grant, it implies you’ve not been very good at managing money up until now…
  • Make sure your messages are consistent – if the grant-making body looks at your website, will they have a reinforcing message that you are raising money?
  • Include a call to action – please give us X amount, please contact Y for more information.

What are trusts looking for?

These are the sort of questions a trust wants to know about your application – your answers to these questions could form the basis of a good application.

  1. Can you define the problem clearly?
  2. How will you make a difference? And does it work?
  3. Can you show what difference will be made?
  4. How long will you need before you can demonstrate an impact?
  5. How do you see the problem and your approach to it fitting in with the trust’s priorities?
  6. What skills will be needed for the project? Can you demonstrate that you have them? If not, how will you get them?
  7. Have you supplied details of your training and past experience, if this is relevant?
  8. What is innovative about the project? And how far can the innovative aspects be replicated in other situations?
  9. If the project isn’t innovative, why does the application merit a grant?
  10. How do you propose to evaluate and disseminate any practical experience, outcomes and lessons learned from the project?
  11. Do you have a clear management structure?
  12. Does the application come from or clearly have the support of the senior people in the organisation – both the senior staff and the management board?
  13. Have you supplied you latest annual accounts? And do they give a picture of a well-run, effective organisation?
  14. What are the major sources of income for you work at the moment, and will these continue? If not, what are you planning to do to secure you organisation’s future?
  15. Is your budget realistic? Many applications undercost their projects.
  16. What proportion of the total you require is being requested from the trust?
  17. Where do you propose to obtain the balance? Have you already made other applications? Have any been successful? Are any pending, and when will the outcome be known?
  18. What if you can’t raise the whole of the budget you have proposed? Will you be able to work on less? Will you have to adjust your plans? Will you go ahead?
  19. What will happen when the trust’s grant runs out? Is there a strategy for obtaining continuing funding? Or will the project become self-sufficient or terminate at that point?
  20. When do you need the funds? Most trusts have a decision process which takes several months to receive, evaluate and decide on the application. Many applicants apply far too late.

There's more advice on this at the Parish Resources website.

National Grant Making Trusts

The Church of England's National Stewardship Team has produced a National List of Charitable Grants for Churches. This booklet has 6 funding categories relevant to your church, as well as useful websites and organisations to contact.

Regional Grant Making Trusts

Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust

With the generous help from Donors and Members, the YHCT aims to help places of worship within the old boundaries of the Yorkshire Ridings with funding for repairs.

The York Committee

The York Committee of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation makes grants to organisations to help improve the general quality of life in York, with particular regard for those who are in any way disadvantaged. Grants typically range from £100 to £5,000.

Diocesan Funding

The Diocese is able to help your church with grants for mission and looking after parish buildings. Find out more here.

The Archbishop's Mission Fund provides seed corn funding for mission projects across a parish or deanery.

The Parish Buildings Grant is for churches (consecrated or licensed) and church halls for which the PCC is responsible for repair and maintenance.

More information

GRANTfinder is the UK's leading grants and policy database and includes details in excess of 6,000 funding opportunities. Subscription or purchase may be needed, so it may be best to access this site through your local council Voluntary Services (or similar).

GRANTnet is a straightforward service from GRANTfinder, can help small businesses, charitable and community groups like yours to find suitable funding. Subscription or purchase may be needed, so it may be best to access this site through your local council Voluntary Services (or similar).

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising supports fundraisers, through leadership, representation, standards-setting and education.

The Directory of Social Change gives information and training for the voluntary, charity and community sectors. They offer excellent training on fundraising, and have a wide range of publications.

The Heritage Funding Directory is a comprehensive guide to sources of financial support (and more) for anyone seeking to undertake creative projects connected with the UK’s heritage.