The Garfield Weston Foundation received £196m-worth of applications to its latest £5m fund, according to a new report.
It says the charity was so overwhelmed by applications to its Weston Anniversary Fund, launched to mark its 60th year, that it decided to more than double the funding it awarded to £11.1m.
The foundation received more than 2,300 applications from January to June last year, including 1,700 in the last three days, and approved 156 grants of £30,000 to £150,000.
It received a 12 per cent increase in regular applications to the fund, which was launched to support investment in community facilities, compared to the previous year.
A report by Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, and philanthropy advisor Clare Wilkinson, says that “all applicants were keenly aware that the WAF was highly over-subscribed”.
It says that respondents overall “agreed that the application process was straightforward and that the guidance was clear”, however charities with an income of below £50,000 were less likely to be positive.
The report recommends that the charity reviews whether the broad criteria and generous window for making applications was on balance a positive or a negative.
It suggests the foundation should help to manage applicants’ expectations by clarifying that they may be unsuccessful despite fully meeting the fund’s criteria.
And it recommends that the foundation considers providing “very broad, categorical feedback” to unsuccessful applicants to any future one-off fund such as whether they were short-listed.
However, the report says “there is widespread understanding that an extensive feedback process would be costly on the foundation’s time and resources”.
Webinars for unsuccessful applicants
Philippa Charles, director of the foundation, said in the report’s introduction: “It gives me particular pleasure that the data shows we achieved a primary goal of attracting a large number of new applicants from across the country, and we are grateful to the many partners - including umbrella bodies, infrastructure groups, other charities and other funders - who helped by disseminating information about WAF.
“Whether or not applicants were successful in applying to this particular grants scheme we do not want to lose these new relationships.
“We are therefore exploring ways to keep in touch, for example by holding webinars on relevant topics such as ongoing capital needs and revenue support, with the goal of being helpful in assisting applicants to succeed in the future – whether applying to us or to another funder.”