A trust fundraiser is employed by a charity to raise funds from grantmaking charitable trusts and foundations. They serve a core fundraising function at almost all charities, seeking funding from established funders and sources of grants.
Trust Fundraisers’ activities
A Trust Fundraiser, sometimes called a Grants Fundraiser, will spend a lot of time on researching relevant trusts, making appropriate applications to those selected, and then thanking and maintaining a dialogue with those trusts that make grants to the charity.
There are many trust fundraising vacancies at UK charities because the source of funding applies to almost any charity. Grantmaking trusts are established by individuals or organisations as a method of making grants to specific charities or charitable projects. Trusts are themselves charities, so are regulated by the relevant body, such as the Charity Commission in England and Wales, and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in Scotland.
Some trusts give small grants of just a few hundred pounds, but others give much bigger grants of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and occasionally over a million pounds. As such they can provide a charity with a very effective form of fundraising in terms of return on investment. One trust fundraiser can, depending on the cause and the volume of funding available, raise many hundreds of thousands of pounds, or more, each year.
Some grantmaking trusts develop long-standing relationships with charities that they support, and will sometimes choose to make ongoing donations, or donations over a set number of years. This approach adds to the return on investment (ROI) for trust fundraisers.
For more information on how your charity can benefit from trusts, please call 0845 094 8033 or go to www.trustfundraising.co.uk
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Skills for a trust fundraiser
Trust fundraisers need to have good research skills and experience. Information on grantmakers was for some time available in a small number of printed directories, which included contact details, giving policy, sample grants and recipients, and details of trustee meeting dates.
Some of these were then published on CD-ROM and then in searchable, online formats. Now, funding information can be gleaned from a wide range of sources, including blogs, Twitter feeds, and email newsletters. Funders themselves will now almost certainly publish details of their grantmaking criteria.
Trust fundraisers have always been able to use primary research tools, as well as the printed directories. Trusts’ details have been published in the Register of Charities by the Charity Commission (which covers England and Wales). It is now possible to search this information online, and thereby stay abreast of new grantmaking trusts that are created.
As a result, a number of specialist funding researchers help charities by taking on some or all of the trust fundraising research function. Some of these also make use of their personal and professional contacts to learn of other new grantmakers about to launch.
Making the ask of funders
Indeed, finding information about trusts is now comparatively straightforward. The real skill is in making effective applications. This means applying only to relevant trusts, at the right time, in the right format and asking for the right amount of money for the right project. It is too easy to write and send dozens or hundreds of similar applications in the hope that a few will respond with a grant. The larger trusts employ professional advisers and grantmakers: they also talk to each other, so a charity that wastes their time with poorly targeted appeals will probably become known to a range of grantmakers.
In some ways, applying to grantmakers is straightforward in that many of them explain how to do so. Given that, it is remarkable how many charities still make poor or incorrect applications.
Good research is at the heart of all good trust fundraising.
Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.