Listen to the Fundraising Tips you Get

Scottish Fundraising Conference 2016

Guest Bloggers | 3 October 2016

Ewan Hastings MInstF(Dip), Trust and Corporate Fundraiser at Waverley Care, shares some core tips for getting organised for good trusts fundraising.

I have now been a charity fundraiser for over 22 years now and have had gained a lot of tips from various fundraising peers, managers, colleagues, fundraising experts, books, seminars and training courses.  In fact, the list goes on and on of the people and places where I have picked up fundraising tips.

I have been careful to always write them down and learn from the wisdom of others.  The way I look at them is that the person telling me has, generally, learned them the hard way: through mistake or hard graft.

Now, as I celebrate the start of my 23rd year in fundraising, I feel the time is right to start passing on my tips to help other fundraisers in their jobs, as it’s sometimes not easy being a fundraiser especially if you work for a small charity and are perhaps the only person applying for funding.  

So, to start you off, here are my top 10 tips for writing to charitable trusts and foundations:

1. If asking for an application form by letter enclose a stamped, self addressed envelope. The trust will be more responsive to supporting you. 

2.  Money:

  • A good way to mention money is to say “seeking a grant up to….”
  • Put money in your summary.
  • Also mention it in the end of the covering letter.


3. Make sure you understand what the difference is between “outputs”, “outcomes” and other commonly used funder-speak by using the “Jargonbuster” document which is available to download for free here.

4. Refresh yourself on how to understand questions again.  There are plenty of sheets online to download which have a glossary of commonly-used terms such as “describe”, “explain” etc.

5. Big Lottery Fund applications: Pull out the questions from the document and go through each question with your service colleagues. (This is best done away from the office where you can concentrate on the answers they give.)   Quiz your colleagues on the answers they give, so you fully understand the project and can write confidently on it.

6. At least once a month review your standard letters. Can you update anything?  Is the spelling still correct?  Does the letter need rewritten?

7. Stats: Put them in, but they must be qualified.

8. To rate the success of a future project think “What would success look like and what would we know when we got there?”

9. Phone up the trust in the first instance if there’s a phone number – it establishes if they have any money left to distribute and lets them find out a little more about your organisation.

and finally...

10. USE THE TIPS YOU GET GIVEN. They’re given because they have been found to have worked.

Ewan Hastings MInstF(Dip), Trusts and Corporate Fundraiser, Waverley Care

Catch Ewan at the Scottish Fundraising Conference, where he will be giving many more tips for effective trust applications in his session “Getting Organised for Good Trusts Fundraising”. If you're looking for more top tips on applying for grant funding, Ewan has also written a whole book of helpful tips, available here.



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