Please have a look at the criteria we use for deciding what projects to help (at the end of this page) BEFORE you apply to us – it will save a lot of time on both sides if we don’t get applications we are bound to reject.
We have been established since 1975, and in 2020 we are still supporting many of the same sorts of micro-scale community projects we helped back then, though we have added education (in its broadest sense) to our list of priorities. Our core goal is to help small groups of people who are getting together to make a difference in their communities. On the whole, we don’t support big or established charities. We are especially interested in helping groups that are starting up and need a little seed money to help them get going.
We are privately funded, so we can take risks (and support unpopular causes) in ways that big charities and government bodies find hard to do. We are entirely run by volunteers, so our costs are low.
We usually make VERY SMALL grants to VERY SMALL projects because they often find it hard to appeal to larger and more formal funding bodies.
The only exception to this is that we have made occasional large grants to universities to support excellence in teaching, especially in the humanities. We think that education for its own sake is under threat from the mass-market, low-cost model (and from the focus on STEM subjects) that has become more prominent in the last 20 years.
We also continue to support our original objective when the Trust was set up in 1974 – projects that encourage Community Service by young people to their own neighbourhoods and communities, along the lines pioneered by Dr Alec Dickson of Community Service Volunteers.
We do not respond to national appeals and we (almost) never pay for building work, vehicles, or professional salaries. We don’t support individual students.
We recognise the vital role that Parish Churches, Mosques, synagogues and similar bodies can play as community hubs, and we sometimes can help with their work in the wider community (though NOT with building appeals, and not with evangelising or religious instruction).
We are a UK Registered Charity – number 267495
These are the sorts of issues we tend to look at when we decide what projects to back:
- Is it something new for this particular area?
It doesn’t matter if the idea is tried and tested in other parts of the country. If it is new for this community then we are interested in hearing about it.
- Is it small?
We normally give grants to projects where an initial £125 to £2,500 can make a real difference. In general, we look at what it is costing per-head to reach the people the project is helping.
- Is it run by ordinary people, not professionals?
This is partly a function of size – once a project is big enough to employ staff, it is probably too big for us. It is also a function of our philosophy. All the community projects we support have, as a common theme, the empowerment of ordinary non-professional people.
- Will it find it hard to get support elsewhere?
We try to help those projects that are too new to get support through established fund raising channels, or which (if established) are under threat due to changes in national or local policy.
- Does it have the potential to become self supporting?
We like to see information that shows how the project will support itself in future years or (if it is a short-life project) over the course of its life.
We need to know that the project is well planned, and that the people running it have their feet on the ground.
We also like to see that projects have done some fundraising for themselves even if the amounts raised are small, before we commit our own funds.
- Is it outward looking, rather than being focused on its own members?
We are especially keen to help groups who are usually considered recipients of voluntary action (for example old age pensioners, refugees or young offenders) when these people become involved in helping other groups in the community – because this helps empower the volunteers themselves, as well as supporting the project they are working on.
- Does it have a U.K. charity number, or can it find a charity to accept funds on its behalf?
If your organisation is a U.K. registered charity, please give its full name and charity number.
If your organisation is not a registered charity, we cannot make grants directly to it, for tax reasons. However, we can usually get round this by making a grant to a registered charity in your area, which then will pass the money directly on to your project. Local Church of England Parochial Church Councils are often a good place to start – even for projects that have nothing to do with religion. They are automatically charities, and are often willing to help.
Please also have a look at what we DON’T support (below). Please forgive us if we don’t reply to you, if you fall into one of them. We just don’t have time to do so.
WHAT WE DO NOT [USUALLY] SUPPORT
We NEVER respond to national appeals, or to general round-robin funding letters.
We almost never help hard-science medical projects. Nor do we support counselling, family-therapy and self-help projects. The medical ones tend to be too big for us, and all of these medical and quasi medical fields are very hard for us to evaluate.
We don’t usually help arts/performance projects.
We can’t help projects outside the UK, except when we have personal knowledge of them – it is too expensive to manage, and too expensive to transfer the funds.
We don’t provide help to individuals – even in education. We do very occasionally support scholarship programmes aimed at fostering academic excellence at all levels. However when we do this, we give the funds to institutions to spend as they choose, not to individual students.
We do not support individuals to go on a gap-year community service project overseas.