1Is your organisation legally registered in your home country?
UK donors will not support organisations that are not registered and legally compliant within their home countries. An aspect of the due diligence carried out by prospective UK grant-making trusts is to scrutinise home country registration documents. If applicable, they will also ask for a website link to in-country registration authorities’ sites where applicant organisations are shown to be registered.
2Is the constitution, trust deed or whatever founding documents apply in your country, in English?
UK donors are unlikely to fund organisations whose registered founding documents are not in English. The absence of an English language registered constitution can be a barrier to receiving UK trust funding. One option to consider is a professional translation certified by a sworn appraiser. (However, this is expensive and will not satisfy all UK trusts.)
3Has your organisation been in existence for more than five years?
In general (aside from having close personal links with someone at a grant-making trust), British donors rarely take a chance on very new organisations that have not been around long enough to have three full years’ audited financial statements. Longevity helps. The longer an organisation has been established (the subtext meaning that it has stood the test of time), the better.
4Has your organisation secured substantial local funding?
UK trust donors require a number of local donors to be supporting an organisation before they will fund it. This shows them that the local donors have conducted due diligence on the organisation and are also satisfied with impact reports.
5Does your organisation spend more than £20 000 per annum?
The British pound is generally strong against most currencies and giving small amounts increases donor trusts’ admin load. UK trusts are unlikely to fund very small organisations (except where there are close personal links). A few small UK donor trusts do focus on funding small amounts. However, their resources are limited and don’t fund many charities.
6Are you able to demonstrate each project or programme via a stand-alone funding proposal with its own budget for only project costs?
Like donors globally, UK grant-making trusts rarely give undesignated money. Their staff expect a clear proposal for a single project (occasionally a programme). Such proposals must outline the specific problem or crisis and how the applicant organisation addresses the problem. The accompanying budget must be in both the local currency and GBP.
7Does your organisation have a clear policy on trustees/board members not being paid?
With the exception of statutory endorsed honoraria for council members for large institutions such as universities and museums, UK donors subscribe to the global trend that board members and trustees are not paid. They are the senior volunteers who steer and guide an organisation.
8Are all of your trustees or board members donors to the organisation?
In addition to not being paid to serve on a non-profit’s board, ideally, all board members should also be donors. The amount does not matter and can remain confidential. The fact of 100% giving by board members makes a powerful impression as only the minority of organisations globally can genuinely claim to have achieved this optimum status.
9Does your organisation have a business plan per project? (This is not a funding proposal!)
Ideally, organisation staff or volunteers should develop a mini business plan per project prior to and as part of its development. Few do. Large donors often ask for such a plan in order to ensure that projects are clearly thought through. These should include the theory of change on which the project is based and how it will be monitored and its impact evaluated.
10Does each of the projects offered by your organisation have built-in monitoring and evaluation systems in order to prove impact?
The days of applications to UK donors that cannot demonstrate high end monitoring and evaluation systems in order to prove impact are long gone. If an organisation has not yet achieved this, it is best not to apply for funding until this critical issue has been addressed.
11If so, is it fully compliant with The Charity Commission and, if applicable, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)?
Organisations from anywhere outside of the UK may have their own entities registered in the UK for fundraising purposes. This is ideal but not required as there are other, less expensive options (outlined in this book). Should an organisation have a UK-based and registered entity, it must remain compliant with the strict requirements of UK authorities.
12If not your own UK registered entity, does your organisation have a relationship with a UK-based and registered charity partner?
In order to fulfil the requirements of the majority of UK trust donors, donations must be made via a UK registered charity partner in the same field of endeavour.
13Or, is your organisation a member of an entity such as the UK Fund for Charities?
There are a few transparent and ethical UK registered organisations that exist in order to enable fundraising in the UK and compliance with UK trust donors’ requirements. (Note: such organisations do not undertake fundraising on behalf of member organisations.) The UK Fund for Charities is one. www.ukfundforcharities.org
14Is your organisation maximising the additional potential of funding from individuals via Gift Aid?
If not claiming Gift Aid, international organisations are losing out on an extra 25% on donations by UK individual tax payers! This does not apply to trusts.
15Does anyone take a commission on funds raised?
Like donors globally, UK grant-making trusts rarely make donations to organisations whose fundraisers ‘cream off’ commissions.
16Does your organisation have a website?
Although social media is growing at an unprecedented rate, non-profits seeking UK funding must have websites. It’s quick and simple to set up a presence on a social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and these should be encouraged, but organisations should have websites too. Potential donors look at prospective beneficiaries’ websites. The absence of a website will raise concerns.
17Does your organisation have all appropriate polices (such as safeguarding) written up?
Donations from UK trusts are non-negotiably dependent on beneficiary organisations providing written policies on, for instance, safeguarding of children or older persons, sexual harassment of staff/beneficiaries and/or mitigation of environmental damage. Each potential donor will specify their required policies.
18Do you have beneficiary community ‘buy-in’ for projects for which funding is to be requested?
UK donors are all too aware of the early days of colonisation when well-meaning missionaries and others imposed their views on local people. It is therefore vital to be able to demonstrate (if asked) that beneficiaries have been consulted and are consulted on an on-going basis. Wherever possible, having a beneficiary community member on a board or advisory panel is a good idea.