Below are some of the frequently asked questions that we are asked. Please click on a question to reveal the answer.
About the Foundation
Where does the Foundation’s money come from?
In 1958 the Foundation was permanently endowed with a majority stage (79.2%) in a privately-owned holding company called Wittington Investments Limited. Wittington holds a diverse portfolio of investments, of which the largest is Associated British Foods (ABF), a publicly quoted company – Wittington owns 54.5% of ABF. Other investments include hotels (including The Grand Hotel in Brighton), property and retail interests (such as Fortnum & Mason). Donations have grown year on year which is a direct result of the success of the business and the fact that the business is predominantly owned by a charity enables it to take a long-term view, which in turn creates sustainable income for the Foundation to donate across the UK.
How does the Foundation determine how much money it can give away?
The charitable donations made through the Foundation are related to the success of the investments held by Wittington – the business has continued to grow and therefore the donations to charity have also grown. The Foundation spends the income it receives every year and now gives away over £60 million annually to UK charities.
Who are the Trustees?
The Trustees are all Weston family members; they are lineal descendants of the founder and highly engaged with the work and activities of the Foundation, bringing a range of experience and knowledge – click here for further information.
How often do the Trustees meet?
The Trustees make decisions all year round on grant applications – they have an ongoing review process which takes place weekly for Regular Grants (those under £100,000) which are considered in order of receipt to be fair to all. They also have eight meetings per year to review Major Grant applications (£100,000 and above) and these agendas are carefully planned in advance to ensure they are fairly balanced throughout the year. Meetings also include guest speakers to keep the Trustees up-to-date and well informed about issues affecting the charity sector and the Trustees also visit charities regularly.
Are you connected to the Canadian funder westonfoundation.org?
WestonFoundation.org is a Canadian charity that provides funding to educational and conservation projects. Whilst there is some overlap in terms of Trustee membership, the two organisations are managed separately and fund in different countries.
Do I have to be a registered charity to apply?
The Foundation is only able to support UK registered charities and CIOs (Charitable Incorporated Organisations) working within the UK. We also accept applications from organisations that have ‘exempt’ status – this is restricted to places of worship, hospitals, education establishments, museums and housing associations. If your organisation is not one of these then unfortunately you are not eligible to apply to us. If you are uncertain, take our eligibility quiz to see if your organisation is eligible for funding.
How much can I apply for?
This depends on a number of factors including how much you need to raise, the scale of your project and how much your organisation has raised already. If you are applying for core costs/revenue funding, the Foundation tends not to support more than 10%-20% of an organisation’s total annual income (depending on their size). With Capital projects we tend to consider grants around 10% of the total cost and expect an organisation to have raised around half the funding required before applying to us.
I want to apply for a Major Grant - what do I do?
If you are considering applying for a Major Grant (£100,000 and over), please start by sending a one page summary to Grace da Rocha via firstname.lastname@example.org outlining what you are raising funds for, the total cost and fundraising target. We can then give you bespoke guidance on whether you are eligible and what any next steps may be. Please note if you are applying for £100,000 or more we typically expect your project and/or annual income to be in excess of £1 million. Please do not apply for a Major Grant through our website.
What do you fund?
The Foundation is a flexible and responsive funder that supports a wide range of organisations. Our Case Studies will give you a flavour of what we support. You may also want to refer to the list of our current grant holders. Our latest Annual Report also lists every grant made along with the amount in our last financial year.
What kinds of grants does the Foundation make?
The types of grant we make, whatever their size, tend to fall into one of three categories – Capital (i.e. buildings and equipment), Revenue (often called ‘core costs’) and Project work. The most important thing is that you apply for what you need most as this will be your priority and therefore the most compelling for our Trustees.
Do you fund salaries?
The Foundation will make a general contribution to salaries through Project or Revenue/core cost grants, however please note that we do not make grants for a specific job or particular member of staff within your organisation – the Trustees prefer to support staff salaries as part of general overheads and not individual posts.
Can I apply for an unrestricted grant? Is this is the same as ‘core costs’?
Yes and yes…..The Trustees appreciate how difficult it is to fundraise and they have always considered applications for unrestricted funds. This is essentially ‘core costs’ or revenue funding and contributes to a charity’s overall annual costs. Please refer to our guidelines for what we expect to see in an application for an unrestricted/revenue grant.
Can we make more than one application at a time?
No, to be fair to our large number of applicants, The Foundation will accept only one application at any time from charities. If you are in receipt of a current grant from us, you are not eligible to apply again until after that grant has been fully expended and you have submitted a final report to us. If your last application was declined, you are not eligible to reapply until after a year has passed from the date of the letter you received to inform you of the outcome.
My organisation's annual income is less than £5,000 and so we are not able to register as a charity. Are we able to apply to the Foundation?
Unfortunately we are only able to accept applications from Registered Charities and CIOs in addition to a small number of other organisations which are places of worship, education establishments, museums and housing assocations. In our experience the majority of small community organisations (with annual income under £5,000) are successful in securing the support from their local community. You may wish to talk to your local Community Foundation for advice on where else to seek support.
Do you have application deadlines?
Applications for Regular Grants (under £100,000) are reviewed by our Trustees on a regular basis and are dealt with in order of receipt. There are no deadlines that applicants need to worry about meeting. Applicants for a Major Grant (£100,000 and over) will be advised which Board meeting they are to apply to if invited to do so following their initial letter and subsequent phone call with our Director.
How long does the whole process take?
If you apply online you will receive an immediate email acknowledgement letting you know that we have received your application. You should then allow up to four months for a final outcome – this is due to the volume of applications we receive and because we take great care in reviewing each one individually.
If you apply in the post, you should receive an acknowledgement letter within four weeks, after which it will take up to four months to receive a decision.
Our application is urgent - what should I do?
The Foundation reviews applications in order of receipt in order to be fair – you should allow up to four months from the date of your acknowledgement letter / email as we receive thousands of requests every year. In exceptional circumstances it is possible for our Trustees to review an application more quickly, however it is important that there is a legitimate reason why this might be the case – we aim to be fair and are therefore not able to ‘queue-jump’ everyone!
What happens to my application?
When we receive your application we check to see that all the information we need has been included – if so, it is logged onto our database and you are sent an acknowledgement email immediately if you applied online, or a letter within four weeks if your application was submitted via the post. If your application is not complete then we will contact you to ask for additional details.
Once you have received an acknowledgement there will be no further contact from us until we write to you with a decision (unless we have additional questions for clarification, in which case we will let you know). Please allow up to four months from the date of your acknowledgement letter / email to receiving notice of an outcome, this is because we receive thousands of applications a year and they are reviewed in order of receipt in order to be fair to everyone. Although it will “go quiet” at this stage, you are not forgotten!
How long should my application be?
We do not have a rigid application form but we expect applicants to be able to include all the necessary information within 10 sides of A4. This is to include a fundraising plan and budget. Please read our guidelines for detailed information on what we require in a funding proposal.
My application has been declined - can I get some feedback?
Unfortunately we’re unable to give feedback on unsuccessful applications due to the high number of applications we receive and the size of our grants team who have to prioritise their time for reviewing applications. We endeavor to make our guidelines and website as clear as possible to help you to know if you are eligible and to be able to include all the information we need in your application to make an informed decision. Typical reasons for applications being declined include:
- applying for work which is being delivered by similar organisations in the same area as you.
- poor applications that do not include vital information we need for our Trustees to make an informed decision about your work and the impact is has. Please read our guidelines clearly and remember to include a fundraising plan and budget for your work – these are two crucial pieces of information that are typically omitted from applications.
- unclear applications that do not explain what you do, why it is needed and what difference you are making.
- financial – if your organisation has relatively large cash reserves or your work appears expensive, please provide an explanation.
I’ve been declined - when can I apply again?
We are unable to accept another application until a full calendar year has passed since the date of our letter conveying the outcome of your previous application.
We are a Northern Ireland charity awaiting a registration number from the Northern Ireland Charity Commission. Can we apply to you?
We are aware that there is currently a delay with the charitable registration process for organisations in Northern Ireland. If you have applied to be registered with the Charity Commission in Northern Ireland but have yet to receive your registered number, please provide us with a copy of the email from the Charity Commission confirming that they have received your application. This email should have a copy of your registration document attached to it which we will need to see. If you have not applied for registration nor have plans to do so, then unfortunately your organisation falls outside our guidelines and you are not eligible to apply to the Foundation.
Our project has finished but we have a funding gap to fill. Can we apply?
This depends on the nature of your project. If you are raising funds for a Capital project and the work has already started, then it may be possible to apply. If however you are running a programme of activity that has already completed, the Foundation is unable to support this after the project has finished.
Should we apply for a specific project or for an unrestricted grant?
The Foundation aims to be responsive to the greatest need – therefore the decision on what to apply for will depend on the priorities of your organisation – i.e. what would make the most difference? If your answer to this is help with your organisation’s running costs, then this is what you should apply for – similarly this is the case if you have a shortfall in funding for a particular project. The important thing is that apply for what you need most as this will be your priority and therefore the most compelling for our Trustees.
If we apply for too much funding, will be get nothing?
The trustees evaluate all applications on their individual merits and award funds accordingly – they do not work on an ‘all or nothing’ basis. If your requested sum is larger than the Trustees think is appropriate, they may grant a smaller amount to help your work in the expectation that additional funding will be sought from other sources.
You request our annual accounts but our charity's annual income is so small that we are not required to produce audited accounts. What shall we send you?
If your charity is registered but your income is less than £10,000 you are still required to tell the Charity Commission what your income and expenditure is and any changes to your charity’s details. Please send us a copy of the summary that you have submitted to the Charity Commission. Please also send us a copy of your organisation’s most recent bank statement. If you are applying online, these can be uploaded along with your funding proposal.
I have been contacted by the grants team asking for additional information. What do you mean by a fundraising plan?
Our Application Guidelines provide an example of what a clear fundraising plan looks like. We need to know how you are planning on funding your work and where you think the money will come from. If your project has the potential to generate earned income, we will expect to see an estimated figure. We expect to see which other Trusts and Foundations you are approaching in addition to any other funding sources e.g. individual and corporate donors, events, local authority grants etc.
Applying Online - Regular Grant Programme
Am I able to log in to my account using my smartphone or tablet?
Yes you can, however please note that we do not have an app for this and so functionality may be limited on your device.
How do I apply online?
I want to access my online account but have forgotten/lost my password.
This is quick and easy to resolve. Go to the Apply Here page and select the ‘forgot my password’ link. You will be asked to enter the email address associated with your account – you will then be emailed a link which will enable you to reset your password and login again.
I have been asked to submit further information to assist the review of my application. How do I do this?
Occasionally we require additional information from our applicants. If you applied online we will send an email to the address associated with your online account, outlining what we need and a link to where you need to upload this information to. Please put the information in a word document of PDF so you can easily upload it to your account. If you applied in the post, a member of our grants team will correspond with you to acquire the missing information.
My grant period is coming to an end. How do I submit my end of grant report?
If you applied online then you can upload your report through your online account. You can access your online account from our website and upload your report in the ‘requirement’ section, please click here for further information on how to upload your report. If you applied in the post, please send your end of grant report in the post to our offices or by email to email@example.com. Please do not combine an end of grant report with a new application.
I have been awarded a pledge - What do I need to do?
In some instances the Foundation may offer a grant to be paid when specific conditions have been met (for example when your organisation has raised a certain level of funds). You will receive a Pledge Letter which will outline what the conditions are and a Pledge Release Form. When you believe the conditions have been met, fill in the release form – if you applied online, please upload this form through your online account. If you submitted a postal application please print the form and send it in the post to our usual address. Payment will only be made if the Foundation is satisfied that the conditions have been met satisfactorily and your organisation is in a position to spend the money within 12 months.