6 Reasons Why Trust Fundraising is More Than Words

6 Reasons Why Trust Fundraising is More Than Words

Guest Bloggers | 26 August 2015

Too many people think fundraising from trusts and foundations is just a case of sitting at a desk, bashing out a couple of applications, sending them off, and then waiting for the cheques to arrive.

Take that attitude, and you’ll never build the long-term partnerships with funders your charity needs.

Here’s six things you need to remember on why trust fundraising is about more than just the words.

Pictures: Perhaps your prose style could make JK Rowling give up the day job. But I bet no matter how good and lively a writer you are, nothing will make your charity’s projects come to life like some photographs. Whether it’s of people learning, or falling down buildings, or rescued animals, the cliché that a picture tells a story of a thousand words still rings true for funders.

Numbers: Can you quantify in numbers why your charity needs this grant? Have you measured what you could achieve with this funding? Have you requested a grant amount that is reasonable for the project costs, and within the abilities of the funder to provide? Does your budget add up?

Speech: The telephone is much underused tool in trust and foundation fundraising, and I write that as a Millennial who would rather text message than call her own mother. If the funder publicises a phone number, give them a ring to enquire if your charity’s work may be of interest to their Trustees. The majority of funders don’t bite and would rather spend two minutes talking to you than receiving an irrelevant application you’ve wasted your time writing.

Memory: Applied to this funder in the past? Whether or not they helped to fund your charity’s work, make a little reference to the time you’ve approached them before. It helps them to place your charity, understand your work, and – especially if you’ve received an earlier grant– appreciate that your charity has the chops to deliver.

Reputation: Does your charity have a brilliant track record? Have you won awards for your work? Tell the funder. If you’re a new charity, why have you been established and what problem are you setting out to solve in your own unique way? Tell the funder. If things haven’t been so good in the past, what are you and your board doing to turn the corner? Tell the funder. If it’s good, they might not know about it. And if it’s bad there’s every chance the funder might know already, but they’ll appreciate your honesty.

Manners: Have the grace to do your research, put together a brief proposal with pictures, make sure the numbers add up, and you’re asking for the right amount. Have a chat with the funder if you can, refer correctly to your past relationship, and above all be honest. Being the most pleasant and polite trust fundraiser the funder encounters will pay dividends.

Postage: You could do all of the above, but if application submissions are by post and you don’t send it with enough stamps or franked amount, the trust’s administrator isn’t going to feel that warmly towards you when they have to trudge all the way to the sorting office to collect your envelope. Don’t trip at this last post. 


Kirsty Connell-Skinner, Fundraising Manager, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Kirsty Connell MInstF is the Fundraising Manager at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, where she leads a small team focusing on individual, trust, lottery and legacy giving. Having started her career in politics, she moved into fundraising in 2009 and has worked for National Museums Scotland, OneKind and IdeasTap.

Image ‘stamps’ by Joel Kramer, shared under a Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 licence.


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