Attracting funding for Christian Social Action

Being Clear About Impact

Throughout my book, "Christian Social Social Action", I have emphasised the importance of ensuring that your charity has developed a Theory (or Story) of Change (TOC). One of my reasons for this emphasis is that a really good TOC helps the leaders of the charity to be clear about how they will measure and report upon the impact their charity has.

Being able to produce well thought out impact measures is really important when considering how to attract funding for the charity. Donors are increasingly emphasising that they will only consider applications where sound impact measurements can be discussed in the application and the charity also has systems and resources in place to enable regular measurement of the impact of the work that it does.

Potential funding partners, trusts and charitable grant makers have to be very selective in responding to the very considerable number of applications they receive and this focus on impact is completely understandable given the volume of applications they receive.


To stand a chance of success with any bids that you write it is also important to seek out potential grant makers …

  • Whose mission and charitable goals line up with yours.

  • Who support work in your area.

  • Who are willing to make grants of the size you require, over the period that will assist your work.

Preference For Registered Charities

It is usually the case that grant makers will require applicants to be registered charities, to be able to produce accounts and to have an annual turnover above and/or below a certain figure. Funds may be granted on a restricted basis (tied to the achievement of particular objectives) or for capital, staffing or general revenue purposes and applicant organisations need to be clear about what they are applying for. Some grant makers will have an application form that must be completed, others may allow the applicant more freedom to write their own application. Grant making trustee boards may only review and respond to applications infrequently and will usually take decisions collectively. Consequently, it is always advisable to find out if and when there are closing dates, when the decision-making board meets to review applications and if[i], how and when decisions are communicated.

Selected Sources Of Potential Funding

So, let’s take a look at a small selection of the charitable funding sources that may be available to high impact, well managed Christian organisations.

Benefact Trust is one of the U.K.’s largest grant-making charities. Since 1972 it has awarded over £235m in grants to churches, Christian charities and communities. It funds churches to care for heritage and both churches and Christian charities to engage with their communities and address some of our most difficult social issues.

The trust was formerly known as the Allchurches Trust and in 2022 changed its name to the Benefact Trust. The trust exists to provide grant funding to help communities thrive, tackling social issues from homelessness and poverty, to climate change and cultural cohesion. The way the trust expresses grant funding opportunities has been refocused recently and a careful review of the new website is highly recommended, beginning with this page.

Andrews Charitable Trust (ACT) aims to support those who are not able to easily access housing. The majority of their funding is focused on tackling the links between housing and poverty, especially by supporting innovative ideas and new social enterprises supporting those in housing need. Key words are "innovation", "replication" and "sustainability".

The trust has a small "pot of funding" to enable churches in the regions of the U.K. where the Andrews Property Group has businesses, to start up social action projects in support of their communities. This funding is currently deployed through the Cinnamon Network micro-grant programme, supported by their Regional Advisors.

ACT, the charity, owns the Andrews Property Group.

The Andrews Property Group began in property in 1946. The Group was established by Cecil Jackson-Cole, an English entrepreneur and humanitarian. A devout Christian, Jackson-Cole set up charitable trusts including the Voluntary and Christian Service Trust that ultimately gave rise to the charities Help the Aged (1961), the Anchor Housing Trust (1968) and Action Aid (1973). He was a co-founder of the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief which has become the largest charity of its kind in the British Commonwealth: Oxfam. In 1946, Jackson-Cole founded Andrews and Partners Estate Agents as a business with the aim of developing charities. Andrews Property Group is wholly owned by Andrews Charitable Trust, who is its only shareholder.

The Childs Charitable Trust aims to see a world where every person has the potential to hear and respond to the gospel message. The trust supports a wide variety of evangelistic, educational and humanitarian work both at home and overseas. The trust’s mission, to help achieve the vision, is to strategically fund Christian organisations who actively share the Christian gospel. The trust’s funding priorities are not always based on specific project costs. They therefore also accept applications for funds to help develop policy, advocacy and research.

Hinchley Charitable Trust is a Christian grant-making trust which seeks, through its grants, to forward the transformative Kingdom of God, especially within the U.K. The trust was established in 1973 by the late R. H. Stanley of Purley, Surrey, as a tax-efficient way of managing his charitable donations. During Mr Stanley's lifetime, the trust was a small family trust which mainly made grants to Christian organisations.

When Mr. and Mrs. Stanley passed away in 2000, their estate was left to Hinchley, growing the trust considerably. Hinchley Charitable Trust was reconstituted as a Charitable Company in 2005. It retains close links to the Stanley family, but is now more broadly-based.

The primary focus is still supporting Christian charities, with a particular emphasis on youth work. The trust looks to support activities and initiatives which have the potential to transform communities.

The Laing Family Trusts owe their origin to Sir John Laing, a devout Christian and founder of the international construction company. The company was involved in many pioneering projects, including the construction of the Second Severn Crossing. Successive generations of the Laing family have built on Sir John’s example of Christian philanthropy. The four grant-making trusts which are administered under the umbrella of the Laing Family Trusts are: the Beatrice Laing Trust, the Kirby Laing Foundation, the Martin Laing Foundation and the Maurice & Hilda Laing Charitable Trust.

Sir John’s Christian faith was the motivation for the company’s pioneering concern for the welfare of its staff. Today, the giving of the Laing Family Trusts reflects the values espoused by Sir John, seeking to:

  • promote Christian faith and values,

  • care for those in need, and

  • encourage young people to realise their potential (especially, but not exclusively, in the field of science and engineering and through Christian youth activities).

Support provided by the Trusts is intended to help build bridges between church and community, make connections between different faith communities, and reduce the divide between the advantaged and the disadvantaged.

Sir Halley Stewart Trust is a grant-giving charity that supports innovative and pioneering Social, Medical and Religious projects, to enable human flourishing and to prevent suffering.

The trust funds a wide range of organisations to achieve this goal, with grants normally ranging from one to three years in duration and up to circa £60,000 per project (with a £30,000 limit per year), although in exceptional cases up to £80,000 may be considered. The trust is underpinned by Christian values, but welcomes applications from other faith and non-faith projects. Trustees fund innovative social projects that meet the foundation’s fundamental aims, where the trust tends to be a ‘first funder’. Social grants are primarily awarded for under-funded causes, rather than those with higher profiles that gain a lot of public attention and may find it easier to attract funding.

The trust welcomes proposals for catalysing social initiatives in the U.K. that are either practical on-the-ground projects (development projects) or focused on the practical impact of research findings (research projects), which attempt to:

  • Prevent and resolve conflict, promote reconciliation, encourage re-connection between family members.

  • Help people to ‘move beyond disadvantage’.

  • Help people who may be vulnerable and/or have been exploited.

Examples of recently funded project themes include the family and social aspects of:

  • Housing policy and/or homelessness

  • Human trafficking and/or modern-day slavery

  • Child and family welfare

  • Mental health and addiction

  • Criminal Justice

  • In relation to development projects, the trustees normally expect:

  • Beneficiaries to be involved in the design of projects and their continuing governance.

  • A positive impact that includes and goes beyond the immediate beneficiaries of the project.

  • Sustainability plans to be in place if relevant.

In relation to research projects, trustees expect findings to be disseminated to beneficiaries, service-delivery partners and policy makers to increase the impact of the research.

The Charity Commission

These brief portraits of selected grant making charities represent but a small sample of national Christian charities.

The Charity Commission, on the other hand, maintain a searchable, online register of national and local charities based in England and Wales. Through this register it is possible to find information about registered charities including what the charity does; its trustees; key financialinformation and any actions the Charity Commission has taken against the charity. Entering the word “Christian” in the main charity search box, for example, produces well over 20,000 entries. However, not all of these organisations will be grant giving or operate in your area. Thankfully, it is now possible to filter the initial results you obtain using a variety of criteria.

The Charity Commission register also provides access to the annual reports of all charities and from these you will be able to determine to whom grants, donations and other resources have been given in previous years. Annual reports also provide an insight into the grant making policies of each registered charity.

During 2020, the Charity Commission upgraded their website to improve advanced searches of the register. Now when you click on their advanced search button, you get a number of options and can combine keyword searches at the top with filters to narrow your search results. Tick the box to select “Main way of carrying out purposes is grant making”. This selects the charitable trusts and foundations on the register. The box is about half way down the page, just before the geographical filters.

Here you will find an example of a ‘bare bones search’ that you can tailor to meet your own needs.

There are over 16,000 organisations which have a main purpose of grant making, for example, so adding additional search terms and filters relevant to your cause (as shown above) is usually vital. You can select classifications about what the charity (the funder) does, who the charity helps and where it operates, or use keywords to search for specific activities.

Charity Excellence Framework

Charity Excellence Framework maintains a remarkable, fully searchable, database of trusts, foundations and other sources of charitable funding which is completely free to use. It is updated weekly, includes core as well as other funding opportunities and also includes details of COVID-19 funding.

This online database also links to hundreds of other free to use grant funding databases. The database enables users to identify potential funders and partners by county in England and is an excellent gateway to the very wide range of charitable financial sources that could help your organisation grow your impact wherever you are working in the U.K.

The Charity Excellence Framework also provides The Start-up Toolbox. The Toolbox contains almost everything you need to make your new non-profit organisation a success. You will find in the Toolbox a range of practical toolkits covering topics such as: what type of charity should you establish? how to register a charity? registering with HM Revenue and Customs, how to claim Gift Aid, selecting a fundraising platform and much more. Follow this link for further details and a wealth of free resources.

Further guidance on developing your Theory of Change, measuring and reporting on impact and identifying potential funding partners is available in my book, which you can obtain here.

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