Merchant Taylors’ CCI funds work tackling disadvantage in some London boroughs. It generally funds small, local charities to achieve local impact

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its investment income, until further notice this charity is unable to accept applications for funding

As regards our existing grantees, Merchant Taylors' Consolidated Charities for the Infirm has signed up to a joint funder statement on the Covid-19 pandemic, coordinated by London Funders. The statement can be viewed here.

Merchant Taylors’ CCI funds registered charities whose programmes aim to help the elderly or to benefit people who are in financial hardship and are living with physical or mental health issues; living with a disability and/or a developmental condition, for example, being on the autistic spectrum. For programmes helping the elderly, there is no financial hardship requirement.

For people living with health issues, we treat the financial hardship aspect as satisfied if if it can reasonably be assumed that most beneficiaries are likely to be in financial hardship. In such cases you will help your application if you include a sentence explaining why you think it is reasonable to assume this.

However, please remember that financial hardship alone is not enough.

THE CCI doesn't fund:

  • “bricks and mortar” projects – for example, building a new ward for a hospice
  • charities whose main method of operation is making grants or loans to individuals.
  • medical research
  • applications from individuals. (This includes where the application is to fund the individual’s cost of participating in a charitable activity, e.g. environmental work outside the UK.)

The rest of this guidance explains our other funding policy preferences. These other funding preferences are not rigid rules implying absolute cut off points. However, we use them to prioritise applications, bearing in mind that we receive many more than we can afford to fund. So the fewer preferences your application would satisfy, the less likely it would be to receive funding.

Our strongest preference as to geography is for work which mainly or exclusively benefits the following London boroughs: Hackney, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets.

Our second preference is work which mainly or exclusively benefits London boroughs sharing a border with a borough in the list above.

Our third preference is work mainly or exclusively benefiting Greater London

Our fourth preference is work mainly or exclusively benefiting a part of Greater London (not the whole), but that part does not fall under the first two preferences above.

National charities seeking funding only have a chance of receiving a grant if it is for a specific project which falls within the first geographical preference above and meets all the other policy preferences, and there is no local charity which could realistically deliver a similar project in that area.

Our first preference is to fund either projects with a clear outcome, or a proposal which in some way will help your charity become significantly more resilient, or more efficient, or better at achieving its charitable purposes, or which will seed a beneficial knock on effect beyond your particular charity’s beneficiaries.

However, we are open to funding general running costs (‘core costs’). If that is what your charity really needs, we would much prefer you to tell us straightforwardly than to try and shoehorn your application into the preference above.

Our grants are often in the range £5,000 – £20,000 in a single year. However, we are open to requests for more where an applicant’s proposal in some way will help their charity become significantly more resilient, or more efficient, or better at achieving its charitable purposes, or which will seed a beneficial knock on effect beyond their particular charity’s beneficiaries.

Our top preference is to fund charities with an annual income of less than £100,000. Our second preference is for charities with an annual income in the range £100,000 – £500,000. We have very occasionally funded national charities where their proposal was to deliver a service mainly benefitting people in our top preference London boroughs, which we felt would make a big difference to those beneficiaries, and there was no one else likely to provide those beneficiaries with anything similar.

In appropriate cases we will consider ‘conditional track’ funding for up to three years. Our standard grant award letter explains how this works, using an example based on two years:

“This grant is on our ‘conditional track’, of which this is Year 1. This means that your charity is not guaranteed repeat funding in Year 2. However, we are hereby inviting you to re-apply for this specific funding purpose for Year 2, by way of the report on Year 1 referred to in the attached terms and conditions of grant. If in our Trustees’ opinion that report demonstrates satisfactory use of funds in Year 1, we would award you £X for this same purpose in Year 2….We require charities to leave at least one ‘fallow year’ after the final year named above, before lodging any fresh application for funding. We will enforce this rule even if your charity is in financial difficulties, the project we have funded is under threat, or employees might lose their jobs. The reason is to discourage dependence on our funding. We also hope that you use the years referred to above positively to build other funding sources. Lodging a fresh application in the year after the ‘fallow year’ might indicate that you had not taken advantage of that opportunity fully. We receive many more good quality applications than we can afford to fund, and cannot guarantee that any fresh application you submit would be successful. For these reasons, your charity should start planning well ahead how you would fund this purpose in Year 3 and Year 4, and perhaps indefinitely, without our support. Our Trustees will expect you to summarise your plan in your report on Year 1.”

If your charity depends heavily on a particular individual, you should tell us expressly what plans the trustees have in place to cope if that individual were forced to step back suddenly from their involvement by unforeseen circumstances – for example, a life-changing accident. Likewise if your charity depends heavily on volunteers to deliver its services – do you have a plan for coping if several volunteers had to drop out simultaneously?

Sometimes close collaboration or even merger with similar charities can be the best way to fulfil your charitable purposes. We will do an internet search for charities doing similar work to yours in a similar area. If you already know of such charities, it would help your application to explain the ways you already collaborate with them – or even to consider making a joint application.

We look carefully at your accounts on the Charity Commission website. If you have filed your accounts late in the last five years, you should tell us why.

If your proposal is about trying to create a new income stream for your charity, please ensure your application spells out the four most important assumptions in the business model.

Signal Family Support Limited (reg. no. 1143147) applied for funding towards the cost of using specially trained coaches to provide swimming lessons in Lewisham to children on the autistic spectrum.

This was attractive to Merchant Taylors’ CCI because:

  • It was based in a top preference geographical area
  • Charity’s annual income was less than £100,000
  • A low cost charity with a flexible structure based around prudent use of volunteers, and a committed board of trustees
  • Clearly meeting a need for people with a developmental issue, or health issue or disability, since mainstream group swimming lessons are particularly challenging for people on the autistic spectrum. Swimming can be a lifelong source of enjoyable exercise and doesn’t depend for success on an ability to work comfortably in teams, which makes swimming lessons a particular benefit for people on the autistic spectrum.
  • Knock on benefit for the parents of the children since it would give them ‘time off’.
  • The demographic profile of Lewisham meant that the majority of beneficiaries were likely to be from families with some degree of financial hardship, and the charity was able to reassure us that low income was not a bar to access.
  • Clear and credible explanation of why the work was needed, who it would benefit, who would do the work and why they were well qualified to do so, and how the charity would be able to tell whether the work had succeeded
  • Not duplicating another charity’s work with those beneficiaries.

Merchant Taylors’ CCI awarded two years’ funding on the ‘conditional track’, so that the charity would have breathing space to focus on its plans for finding alternative sources of income following cuts to public sector funding.

Applications by post or e-mail cannot be accepted, and will not be considered.

Applications can be made at any time but will only be considered according to the following annual timetable:

  • Applications made in the period 16 April to 9 September inclusive will be considered at the Trustees’ meeting in October/November, with the decision notified on or before 30 November.
  • Applications made in the period 10 September to 15 December inclusive will be considered at the Trustees’ meeting in late January/early February, with the decision notified on or before the last day of February.
  • Applications made in the period 16 December through to 15 April inclusive will be considered at the Trustees’ meeting in June, with the decision notified on or before 30 June.

Merchant Taylors' Consolidated Charities for the Infirm is a charity registered in England and Wales (no. 214266)