Top tips for applying to charitable grants

Charitable trusts and grants come in all shapes and sizes.  Turn 2 Us estimate that there are over 3,000 grant-giving charities available in the UK, distributing millions in grants and services to individuals in need every year.

If you qualify for assistance, charitable funds can help by providing funding or grants that do not need to be paid back. Other trusts may award vouchers, pieces of equipment or holidays.

Each fund follows their own direction and sets their own criteria. This means that getting grant funding involves a bit of ground-work. Here we share some top tips on how to help your application succeed.

  • Know where to check for relevant grants

If you’re looking for grant funding, you will need a starting point. The Disability Information Scotland helpline team can assist you with this. Our website has some handy information guides: Grants and support for individuals and Holiday and Respite Grants.  You can also search for money (grants and trusts) on the Scottish Disability Directory.

If you are looking for further information, try a search on Turn2us and Disability Grants Search

 Turn2us provide an online tool to search for grants. For further information on this check out their website.

  •  Research funders relevant to your situation or background

Search for charitable trusts that look to support people in your situation. Many charities related to specific health conditions offer some financial assistance or grants.

For instance, the MS Society or the Stroke Association.

Consider your background and any previous occupations. Many large employers, Trade Associations, Professional Bodies and Trade Unions have benevolent funds which are open to applications from ex-employees and their dependents. Think about all the jobs that you have had, even if you were only employed for a year or so.

For example, members of the armed forces or veterans may be eligible for help from The British Legion or SSAFA.

Some charitable trusts and funders are specifically set up to assist families, so have a think about how your family situation might be relevant.  In addition, many trusts will help the dependents (partners, children) of the people who their grants support.

For example, the Family Fund give grants to families raising disabled and seriously ill children aged 17 and under.

Think about local grants providers in your area or grants aimed at people in your age group.

  • Read (and then re-read) the eligibility rules

It’s important to have a good understanding of what can be funded and who is eligible for support. Take a look at the funder’s priorities. Think about what you want funding for and if it meets the criteria.

Example: our helpline team often get asked about funding towards a specialist piece of disability equipment. Look for funders who prioritise supporting people to live independently.

  •  Talk it over

If the charitable fund says that they can offer help and advice then get in touch.  If you’re not sure about whether you are eligible for help, it’s always better to ask before submitting an application, if this is possible. Many funders rely on volunteers to deal with applications so be patient if you don’t hear back straight away.

Example: if uncertain, contact the funder to ask about their current funding priorities and the sort of information they’d expect you to include in your application.

  •  Be clear about what you are looking to fund

When applying, make sure that what you are asking for is easy to understand. State clearly what you need the funds for. Make it clear who you are requesting a grant for (yourself or on behalf of a friend, relative, client etc.). Be clear about the amount of money needed and let the funder know if you are looking for a contribution towards the costs or the full amount. 

  • Be clear about why you need funding

State clearly why the funding is needed. You must be able to demonstrate a need for support. If you have a disability or health condition, provide some information on how this affects you and be specific about how the funding will help with health related issues. Include information on any statutory (e.g. local council or NHS) funding you have been turned down for.

  • Include as much relevant evidence as possible

Think about any supporting evidence you can provide from a professional (such as a social worker or your GP). If you can, include some costings or quotes for what you are looking to fund. This shows that you’ve done your research.  If you have been turned down for statutory funding, enclose copies of the decision letter. If the funding is aimed at people on a low income, think about providing a breakdown of your income and expenditure.

  • Make sure you follow the funder’s application guidelines

Make sure to meet any application deadlines and if the funder uses an application form, make sure that you complete it as fully as you can. Make sure you have included all the information that the funder has asked for. When you have completed the application form or written the letter, re-read it and then ask someone else to check it. If the funder requires an application to be made by a third party, make sure that you get a relevant third party professional to do the application.

A third party professional could be a Social Worker, Occupational Therapist or Support Worker.

If you need any more information on charitable funding then contact our helpline. The helpline team at Disability Information Scotland can provide you with information on a range of funders. Call 0300 323 9961 or email:

Read the Disability Information Scotland information guides on Grants and support for individuals and Holiday and Respite Grants.

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