The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is surprised not to have been inundated with applications for funding since the start of the recession.
Senior grants manager, John Mulligan told civilsociety.co.uk that apart from a spike of applications in February and March 2011, when the organisation received about 75 per week, the rate of applications has remained stable at around 55 per week.
He said: “In the context of a lot of cuts the rate has stayed fairly stable, which is a little surprising.”
In an interview with civilsociety.co.uk, Mulligan, said that one of the organisation’s top priorities for the coming year is to ensure it spends its budget allocation, which in the main fund totals around £28m.
“What has surprised us, as has surprised other foundations, is that the application rate has actually fallen,” Mulligan said.
“That’s a trend which not just we’ve picked up, but colleagues in other foundations. One foundation the other day told us that their application rate was down by a third.
“It seems unusual given the pressure on groups and funding drying up elsewhere, that applications to trusts and foundations seem to be dropping off. It may not be universal it’s certainly what we’ve found.”
Asked what the likely cause might be, Mulligan suggested that charities may be too busy scrabbling around trying to find sufficient money to cover their core costs, which many trusts tend not to fund.
“They’ve possible received cuts from statutory sources, local authorities and they’re looking to find funding to make up the salary of the director and they don’t naturally look to trusts and foundations to plug that gap.”
He added that Esmee Fairbairn does support core costs such as overheads and salaries but only as part of a “very compelling application”.
“In fact 50 per cent of our funding last year went into core costs.”