Funder Research: Planning out your fundraising journey

A massive £4.4 billion is available annually from trusts and foundations (according to DSC’s 2015 Trusts Insight report) for work both here in the UK and abroad.

However, accessing this funding requires in-depth research. Tailored applications to funders who share your aims and values are much more likely to be successful that ‘mailshots’ of identical applications sent to a huge number of trusts.

There are around 8,000 different trusts and foundations registered in the UK. Trusts and foundations come in a variety of shapes and sizes – some are large, national or even international grant-makers, the vast majority are relatively small.  Therefore, research to find the best trusts to target is vital. You need to concentrate your funding efforts on those foundations most likely to be interested in your work, or able to give the level of funding you need (the majority of grants from Trusts and Foundations are for below £5,000 and only 14% of grants are for £10,000 or more), rather than spending time applying to funders who aren’t a good match to you or your work.

So, where should you start? In the first instance, you need to draw up a longlist of potential funders. To do this, you could use the DSC’s trustfunding website, which allows you to search for funders according to interest or geographical focus. However, there is an annual subscription fee for this. Alternatively, you could sign up to Funding Central, which provides regular email updates on new funding opportunities at a low cost.  You could also look at the accounts of charities running similar projects in different parts of the UK to get some ideas of funders who might be interested in your area of work.

Once you have your longlist, you need to do more detailed research to reduce this down to a shortlist of your best targets. Firstly, visit the websites of the trusts and foundations (if they have one), which usually give examples of previously funded organisations and their criteria for funding. Also take a look at their accounts (available at the Charity Commission) which will usually give information on previous grant recipients and grant amounts.  Finally, some trusts are happy to speak to you about the project you are applying for, and the application process, over the phone – although others explicitly state that they won’t discuss applications in advance.

By the end of your research, you should have a strong shortlist of trusts and foundations who are likely to be interested in the work you are doing and that you are eligible to apply to. This will be worth the time and effort you have put into the research, as your chances of securing funding will be much higher. Now all that remains (!) is putting together a strong application for support – remembering to make a case in the application for why your project fits the trust’s guidelines of course!

We regularly undertake funder research for our clients – resulting in new leads and new funding. If you would like some support from Bright Ideas to undertake funder research please do get in contact.