Grant-making in the UK is a big industry, worth between £3 and £4bn per annum , consisting of grant-makers who wish to fund worthy causes aligned to their funding objectives, and charities and community groups who depend on funding to help those in need. Connecting the dots between these two diverse groups is a key challenge.

In 2017, a group of philanthropists, including Marcelle Speller, funded research to identify the charities’ views on the grant making process. The Smarter Grants Initiative (SGI) research identified (p.06), “a strong consensus amongst all charities – small or large, young or old, northern or southern” that better communication between applicants and funders, and a single application form were needed to improve charitable grant-giving. Looking to build on the insights from the SGI report, Marcelle Speller established a research and oversight collaboration with the University of Bath. The philanthropic funds provided as part of this relationship enabled three world-leading academics – Alistair Brandon-Jones (Professor of Operations and Supply Management), Jullian Padget (Reader in Computer Science), and Dimo Dimov (Professor of Entrepreneurship) – along with a multi-award-winning University of Bath MBA graduate, Philip Hodgson, to undertake the current research project into the grant-making process.

To examine current perspectives on Third Sector grant-making, the research team undertook various forms of data collection and analysis, including analysis of the sector, analysis of current grant application forms, and analysis of a survey circulated to charities. The latter form the main thrust of this report. We have retained the anonymity of the funders and charities involved in this research, because the purpose of our work is not to cast judgement, good or bad, on organisations (which ultimately will only be counterproductive); rather it is to understand the current state of play in the sector and seek sustainable solutions for improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Third Sector
  • Grant making
  • Brevio


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