We are privately funded and we don’t appeal for funds, so we can take risks and support unpopular causes in ways that big charities find hard to do. We are entirely run by volunteers, so our costs are low.
In general we like to help projects that are small scale and would find it hard to get funding from big trusts. We do not respond to national appeals and we (almost) never pay for building work, vehicles, or professional salaries. 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 are becoming increasingly focused on education, in the broadest sense of the term. For example, we have recently established a summer course for pre-university students at a comprehensive school which is seeking to improve its success rate when applying to leading universities; we have supported homework clubs for deprived children and refugees; we backed a Somali refugee who wanted to set up an urban farm to introduce his English neighbours, in a deprived city neighbourhood, to agriculture and livestock; and we have helped new Scout and Guide groups to set up in places where there is no provision. We have supported the Airborne Initiative, which works with young offenders in conjunction with the Parachute Regiment. We make an annual grant to the Lord Kitchener Memorial Fund, which provides University Scholarships to the children of ex-Servicemen and Sevice-women, though we don’t support individual students. We have made two very major grants to universities to support excellence in face-to-face teaching (which we think is under threat from the mass-market, low-cost model of university education that has become more prominent in the last 20 years) – though we don’t have enough funds to do this again. But education goes beyond children – and we have also helped groups of pensioners, for example, to set up oral history projects; and small and specialised music projects. We recognise the vital role that Parish Churches, Mosques 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 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 are a UK Registered Charity – number 267465.
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.