Fundraising Idea: Writing To A Trust

A really good way to fundraise money is through applications to charitable trusts and foundations, there are nearly 10,000 different trusts and foundations in the UK alone who in 2011 gave over £3.6 billion to a range of different causes.

Most charitable trusts and foundations work through giving away income on capital investment, trustees are responsible for how the money is spent and who they grant it to. Trustees will use the Trust Deeds which outline the objectives of the charity and who they want to support. Bearing this in mind it is important to check a trusts objectives before applying; you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including your own.

How do I start?

Because there are so many different trusts and foundations out there it may seem a bit of a daunting task trying to find ones that will support your project. However there are a number of resources that will help you to find trusts that are suitable to you and the project:


  • Funding Central – you can enter a range of details including your location, type of project, who you represent (a registered charity) etc and it will provide you with a list of trusts that may be suitable for you to apply to. Funding Central also provide great advice on how to make the best out of your search.
  • Turn 2 Us – another search engine similar to Funding Central, they also provide a ‘Beginners Guide to Grants‘.
  • Charity Commission – has details of all charities registered in the UK, you can search easily by area so you can find trusts that are close to you and want to support local people. You will need to narrow your search by doing an ‘advanced search’ (top right hand corner of the green search box) and selecting under ‘how the charity operates’ box, ‘makes grants for individuals’. You can also select ‘specific areas’ to ensure that the trusts that come up are relevant to the area you’re living in (remember you can search for your university area and your family home if you reside there in holidays too).
  • The Princes Trust – The Development Awards will award up to £500 for people who want to get into education, training or employment, this includes ‘equipment or travel costs for volunteering or structured work experience’, it takes four to six weeks for a decision to be made and the application form is online.
  • The Arrol Trust – grants for people aged between 16 and 25 who want to widen their horizons by volunteering and travel, you need to request an application form and be willing to attend an interview in Edinburgh if you are successful.
  • Jack Petchy Foundation – for people who live in Greater London or Essex, the foundation is currently inviting applications from people aged between 11 and 25 who are passionate about volunteering overseas; you will need to complete an application form on their website and write a report on your return.
  • The Scottish Churchill University Trust – open for students in Scotland who want to volunteer overseas, volunteers need to apply in writing to the trust who in the past have given our volunteers grants for £500 each.
In 2012 our volunteer Rosalie received a cheque for £280 from the Jack Petchy Foundation (check out her report here), in 2013 Remi has received a cheque for £230 and Yanique has received a cheque for £250. A huge thanks to the Jack Petchy Foundation for continuing to support our volunteers!

In 2013 Kimberley, Stephen, Alison & Emmelene all received grants of £500 from the Scottish Churchill University Trust, a massive thank you to them for their generous support of our volunteers.

Last year one of our volunteers, Marie received a £200 grant from SPRET for her trip to Thailand.


Tackle the books at your local library

  • A Guide to the Major Trusts, Grants for Individuals in Need, The Educational Grant Directory & A Guide to Local Trusts in… (e.g. North of England) – all published by the Directory of Social Change.
  • The London Grants Guide
  • Directory of Grant Making Trusts – published by the Charities Aid Foundation
  • The Caritas Directory of Trusts- published by Caritas Data Publications


  • Local organisations – there are lots of local groups that meet locally to raise funds to good causes, this can include church or parish groups, Inner Wheel Clubs, Rotary clubs, Round Tables, Lions Clubs and Masons (click the links to search for your local club).
Andrew Durrant has received £100 this year from the Rotary Club of Newcastle Under Lyme, Pippa Evans has also received £100 from the Oswestry Rotary Club.
  • University – your university may have funds available for students that want to travel and explore the world – it is always worth an ask. For example UCL has a Travel Grant that students can apply to, as does Essex University and Manchester University also has a Travel Fund.
  • Local authorities, councils and mayors – sometimes have civic funds or scholarships available to people that want to volunteer overseas.

What next?

After coming up with a list of trusts check their objectives and see whether your project with VESL is suitable and meets their aims. When you have narrowed it down it is best to create a template letter, unless you need to complete an application form (check the website of the trust and look at their ‘How to Apply’ section). These are things you might consider putting in:

Time to post those letters and keep your fingers crossed

  • Where you are going? India, Sri Lanka or Thailand?
  • How long are you going for?
  • Information about VESL and what you will be doing
  • How much you have to fundraise and what you have raised so far
  • Your plans for fundraising the remaining amount of money
  • How much you are asking for (check out their website or annual report if they have one and see how much they normally give)
  • Where the money is going
  • What you hope to gain out of the experience

If you make a template letter it will be easier when applying because it means you can send out lots easily. However do not just send a generic letter to everyone, with each trust try and research their charitable aims and explain how your project with VESL fits in with them. If you are applying to a local trust (for example Lions Groups or Rotary Clubs) explain your connection to the area. The more personal and interesting you make your application the greater chance you have of standing out from the many other applications they receive.  Remember to put your address on any letters to Trusts and Foundations!

Things to remember…

  • Check to see if there are any deadlines
  • Apply as early as possible – trusts often meet at certain times of year so it may be a couple of months before you hear anything
  • Apply to as many relevant trusts as possible – it only takes one donation to set you on your way to your target
  • You may be asked to attend an interview or present in front of a group
  • Write a thank you letter to the trust and let VESL know who donated money towards your project so we can thank them too!


A lot of past and current volunteers have been successful with their applications to different trusts, here are just a few quotes from a couple of successful volunteers:

“My friends granddad just happened to a trustee of a trust and I received a £300 cheque in the post out of the blue because she mentioned my trip in a family newsletter!” Ellie Livermore 2010

“The most effective avenue was Hazels Footprints Trust, they provide funding to volunteers abroad.  They were very interested in VESL and the project I did in India however an essential requirement is that the volunteer spends at least 6 months volunteering abroad, typically they prefer one year. I had a couple of interviews and my case was presented to the board of Trustees – great trust!!” Elaine Alibi 2011

“I wrote approximately twenty letters and sent them by post to a range of different trusts, some national but the majority local. In total I received four responses which totalled a massive £850 in donations” Lauren Pluss 2012


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