Circle Scotland: fundraising from trusts

Take a look at how Circle are broadening their fundraising reach in terms of trust and foundation funding.

Working at the heart of deprived communities across central Scotland, Circle is a charity that aims to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families. The Edinburgh based charity was established in 2006 after separating from the Family Service Unit Scotland, to focus on helping families affected by chaotic circumstances caused by poverty including parental alcohol and drug use, or  parental imprisonment.  Circle is respected for pioneering a range of early years and family support services that promote the development and long-term potential of children.

The majority of Circle’s income is generated from Government and Local Authority funding and grants from Big Lottery.  Alongside this income Circle are supported by a few trusts and foundations on a regular basis.  With support from two of these trusts Circle has been able to employ an Income Generation Manager who is able to broaden the organisations reach in terms of trust and foundation funding.

Alex Black, Income Generation Manager

Most of our funding is from the Scottish Government and local authorities as well as public sector partnerships. A relatively small amount of our income is from trust funding. My role is new and we’re strengthening and developing our focus on relationship-building by looking further into trusts and foundations and the corporate sector. Our aim is to focus on funding what Circle does best which is whole family support for vulnerable families.

At the moment, our annual turnover is around £1.6 million, of which roughly £200,000 is generated via trusts and foundations.

“I’ve used constantly over the years, so for me it’s my default go-to. I have the books which are great, and I use both together. is definitely where I go first.”

Top tips: fundraising from trusts

Focus – searching for funding can be time consuming and you really have to stick with it. It’s a long process from start to finish, but the rewards can be great.

Enquire – even if the website says that enquiries are not appreciated, I think sending emails with an enquiry gets a positive response.  It’s good to tentatively dip your toe in rather than launching an application at a small charity that has no idea who you are. Even just emailing to introduce yourself is a good start.

Build Relationships – don’t overlook the importance of maintaining good relationships. Even if you don’t receive funding first time round, it will help if you apply again.

Do your research – make sure you know every nook and cranny of the project you are funding for. On top of this, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the trust you are applying to, their eligibility criteria, projects they have supported in the past etc.