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Grant Making Trusts in the UK - 3rd November 2017

Grants Making Trusts in the UK

Over the last couple of weeks I have been mulling over the size and giving of the grant making trust sector in the UK. This has been prompted by two factors. Firstly, charities are rightly focussing on bringing their privacy policies up-to-date prior to GDPR and therefore holding back on some major donor fundraising. To compensate they are looking at expanding other areas of their fundraising streams including grant making trusts. Secondly Milestone Research have accumulated a large body of information on trusts that we have recently structured into a searchable database thus allowing us to tease out some very useful information.

My very first question was to ask how many grant makers are out there.  I guess we need to first ask ourselves what is a grant making trust. The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) describes them as “charities with private, independent and sustainable income that fulfil their purposes by funding or otherwise supporting individuals or other organisations.” and I’m happy to stick with this. The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) publication Charity Trends talks about researching data on 10,000 trusts but this research is now 20 years old. The Directory of Social Changes 2017 Insight Guide estimated there were about 8,000 trusts and foundations in the UK. Our own database has a shade over 12,000 grant makers listed and this only currently includes those registered with the Charity Commission, OSCR and the Northern Ireland regulator.

One question I would like to accurately answer is how much these trusts give away each year. I don’t think this has ever been successfully answered but we do get some insights. The ACF reports that the top 300 grant makers made grants totalling £2.9 billion in 2016 and the DSC stated that the 4,500 trusts listed on their Trustfunding website gave away £6.0 billion. Both of these figures are accurate but both only give a partial figure. My next task is somewhat Herculean in that I want to find how much the 12,000 trusts we have on our database give.


I’m interested (if not obsessed!) in how I can use our database for more analysis and currently looking at corporate foundations, regional funding and large givers among “unlisted “trusts. I’d be really interested to get your views on what would be useful to a fundraiser. I’m crunching numbers as I speak and if you’d like more information please do message me as I’m happy to send out further information.



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