Funding sources, Fundraising

Behind the scenes: The Guide to Major Trusts 2017/18

It’s always a pleasure for us to work on the research for our Major Trusts’ guide, but this time we’ve found it especially so.

The 15th edition, is new both in the sense that it’s the latest and most up-to-date research carried out by the team here at DSC and also because we’ve given it a re-vamp, combining the best of Major Trusts volumes one and two.

The focus of The Guide to Major Trusts 2017/18

For this guide and indeed all of our funding guides, the focus is on providing the most comprehensive yet succinct information for those we aim to help – the fundraiser, whether that’s a trustee whose charity has no staff, a volunteer who has been tasked with applying for funding for a particular project, or a paid employee whose job it is to find sustainable solutions for their organisation. This is our motivation for providing the high quality work we produce.

The reach of the grant-makers

We’ve worked to ensure that in its new format the guide remains as inclusive and as relevant as ever and is truly reflective of the diversity of the charity sector: 48.8% of the grant-makers featured can fund general charitable purposes, however, there are also some that support causes in more specific areas and, notably, ‘less popular’ causes such as alcohol and substance misuse, domestic violence and LGBT groups.

Over the course of researching The Guide to Major Trusts 2017/18, the DSC Research team gathered information from almost 1,000 annual reports, accounts and websites. What is often compelling is what we discover along the way and the findings we can share in the analysis of the data.

The importance of technology in the fundraising world

In this edition for example, we have identified that technology and the increase towards digital platforms that allows charities to reach an increasing number of people than ever before – the way people consume content is forever changing and we have witnessed how charities are adapting to this change. As a way of increasing innovation in its campaigns, Comic Relief states in its 2014/15 annual report, that it has made approaches toward digital partnerships: ‘We have been developing a new approach towards digital partnerships, reaching out to different digital organisations in order to unlock mutually beneficial relationships. These will help us to test and trial new formats, new content and new technologies and increase innovation in our campaigns’.

In a similar initiative local grant-maker Greenham Common Trust has continued making grants through its online portal – – which is currently active in West Berkshire and North Hampshire, and allows eligible local organisations to submit a single application which can then be accessed by a wide range of funders. The portal also allows members of the public to donate to a chosen charity. This is an example of how digital innovation can help to remedy the pressures put on resources, particularly those of small and medium-sized charities, in the current economic climate.

We hope that charities of all diverse purposes – popular and not so popular, and sizes – small and not so small, will employ their usual resourcefulness and look to the innovations in technology which, whilst not always easy to keep ahead of, have a real place in our fundraising world today and with thought and consideration can be hugely successful.