Researching Trusts and Foundations in the UK

Trust and foundations are often the bread and butter source of funding for many charities and institutions. Unlike other fundraising sectors the depth and breadth of resources for finding funding from trusts and foundations in the UK is fairly limited. Although this makes accessing key resources easier, it does present some problems when researching trusts, particularly when looking for new sources of trust funding.

Here we run through all the key resources you need to know about in order to maximise your chances of finding suitable funding. As with most fundraising sectors, there isn’t one particular resource that will provide all the information you require, so you need to utilise a number of resources to gai the best possible coverage. Firstly, we take a look at subscription resources and then reveal how to combine these with free resources to give you the best ‘overview’ of the sector.

Subscription resources:

There are only a few subscription resources that give you access to lists of trusts and foundation in the UK. These are:

  • Trustfunding.org.uk – an online database detailing all trusts featured in DSC publications including the Directory of Grant-Making Trusts and the Guide to the Major Trusts Volumes 1 & 2. It includes information on around 4,400 grant-making trusts with a total of over £3.1 billion a year. You can search by geographical area, name of trust, type of grant or key words. The cost for an annual subscription starts at £225 +VAT for one user. N.B This database isn’t updated as often as it could be and so you will need to use other resources to corroborate names and address for example.
  • Charity Funding Online – an online database providing information on over 2,800 UK grantmaking trusts and grantmaking charities, and from 600 corporate donors. CFO is generally used as a resource to complement Trustfunding.org.uk, because although it’s entries tend to be more up to date, it doesn’t include as many trusts as Trustfunding. An annual subscription costs £205 +VAT for charities.
  • Groups in Need (GIN) – GIN is a database of 4,500 charitable trusts and foundations that fund voluntary and community groups in the UK. GIN retrieves funders that match the search profile entered by the grant-seeker. It ranks the funders found in ‘best match order’ and allows the user to consider ‘partial matches’. A search produces a list of funders which can be saved, exported and printed out. NB. GIN is not an online database (although this is in the pipeline) but it is a piece of software that you download onto your computer and updates are sent to you throughout the year. The cost of GIN is £185 +VAT for one concurrent user and the website shows you screen shots of the database.
  • Invisible Grantmakers – IG is an annual publication produced since 1998 in a limited edition of 500 copies per year. Each report lists and describes 100 different grantmaking trusts and foundations that are not featured in the popular trust directories. Entries in the 2009 edition had a collective asset value of over £90 million and distributed over £12 million last year in grants. Customised IG reports, addressing specific funding needs, are also available. Prices on request. The cost of the directory is £106 for charities, although concessions are available for regular clients and small charities. Contact Robert Pike for more.
  • New Trust Update – the New Trust Update from Factary, provides information on newly registered grant-making trusts in England and Wales (taken from the Charity Commission register). Each monthly report is tailored to your organisation and the advantage of the report is that you receive information on the newest trusts before they are published in directories etc. Circulation of New Trust Update is currently limited to a maximum 100 subscribers.
  • Trust & Foundation News – quarterly magazine from the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) that provides news, views and information and provides up-to-date briefings on issues in grant-making. An annual subscription (4 magazines) costs £35 for charities.
  • FundingInformation – a more generic online resource that provides the latest information on all kinds of grants from central government and local authorities, the National Lottery, Europe and companies as well as trusts and foundations. If you want to find out more before you subscribe you can either download an example of the info they provide or you can request a free trial (no human contact needed!). A subscription costs from about £300 per year. FI used to produce a list of newly registered trusts, but I don’t know if this is still happening..

Free resources:

There are several key resources you’ll need to be familiar with in order to successfully research trust and foundations in the UK:

  • Charity Commission for England and Wales – The CC is the regulator and registrar for charities in England and Wales and has a comprehensive searchable database of all registered charities, usually with their last submitted accounts (up to three or four years), and a list of trustees. This of course includes trust and foundations registered in England and Wales and since the improvements to their free online database search facility, it makes it much easier to find this kind of funder. Be careful when searching for trusts (see the article “Why can’t I ever find the trust I’m looking for!?”) and utilise the ‘Advanced search facility’ to find newly registered trusts.
  • Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) – The OSCR is the independent regulator and registrar of Scottish Charities, which has a searchable database of Scottish Charities (including trust and foundations). There is an advanced search function that allows searches by charitable purpose, income level etc. OSCR has been working to add more and more information to the database but it’s still fairly limited so you may need to contact grantmaking trusts for a copy of the charity’s constitution and a copy of the charity’s latest statement of account.
  • Charity Commission for Northern Ireland – The newly established Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has been a long time coming, and its offical launch was on June 1st 2009. It’s not fully established yet and there won’t be a directory of NI charities for some time, but it’s a start. This website is a temporary one for the CCNI.
  • Guidestar UK – GuideStar UK is an independent charity that provides a freely accessible database of information on every charity and voluntary organisation in England and Wales. This includes grant-making organisations. Similar to the Charity Commission website, the site includes charity and trust accounts and should be used in conjunction the CC website in terms of corroborating information. Sometimes you can find information not on the CC website and vice versa.

Oh and if you’re looking for a list of UK corporate foundations, then look no further. This list of the 126 corporate foundations in the UK has been compiled from the report ‘Revealing the Foundations’, produced by CAF and the Cabinet Office.

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