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Big Giver: Dulverton Trust

Chloe Stothart finds out why the Dulverton Trust prefers to give grants to smaller organisations

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Tax is currently a hot topic in relation to philanthropy, and this was also the case in 1949 when the Dulverton Trust was set up. The charitable foundation, founded by the first Lord Dulverton, was established, like many others at the time, to prevent large death duties from diverting the family’s money from good works to the state.

Its biggest areas of interest are providing opportunities for disadvantaged young people and projects for carers, former prisoners and older people trying to maintain their independence.

The trust prefers to help smaller organisations, where it can see the effects of its funding, and those trying out new ideas. "One strength of family foundations is we do not have to go with the received wisdom, so we can support things that won’t get support from large funders or government," says its director, Andrew Stafford.

In 2010, the trust gave its first grant of £25,000 to Jamie’s Farm, founded by a former teacher, Jamie Fielden, to motivate children at risk of exclusion from school and give them a taste of farm life. The trust was also an early backer of Teach First and Fairbridge. Stafford says the trust would like to channel money towards projects that prevent young children developing social problems later in life.

The trust gives away about £2.75m a year. Regional and national charities can apply for major grants, which average £25,000 for one year or between £75,000 and £100,000 for up to three years.

Last year, the charity handed over administration of its minor grants for local organisations, which are up to £3,500 and £5,000 each, to Community Foundations, a network of grant distribution charities across the country. "We are reaching very local, small organisations that we would never have heard of and that would never had heard of us – people for whom £500 makes a big difference," says Stafford.

Major grant applicants fill in the trust’s website questionnaire, which has reduced the number of ineligible applications. Stafford says the trust would like to use the extra time generated by these changes to assess the impact of its funding.