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Developing evidence and focussing on outcomes: 2017-18 at The Robertson Trust

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

The launch of our Annual Review is always an excellent opportunity to stop and look back at our work over the last year. This year, our review is structured differently from before, allowing readers to see more clearly how we are working towards a number of outcomes, including improving lives for individuals and communities and supporting capacity within the third sector.

It also shows how we are developing the evidence to support what we do. In light of our strategy implemented in 2016, we have spent considerable time and effort building our evidence base as well as our ability to capture the outcomes that our funding helps achieve.

Our Open Awards

In 2017/18 our Open Awards (full list available here) amounted to over £16.9 million, up from last year’s figure of just over £14 million, though we made a smaller number of larger awards. I am delighted that a third of all awards were to first-time applicants as we continued to reach out into communities. Our ‘success rate’ continues to be over 70%, a key indicator for us that our new strategy is aligned with the work of applicants.

Outreach Events

Engaging with applicants is a significant part of our approach. We held 36 outreach events across Scotland to answer questions and encourage applications. During the year the Board delegated the awarding of small applications to the executive team. This has resulted in a much shortened turnaround time so that the successful applicants receive their funds faster.

A major focus of our work moving forward will be how we continue to support third sector capacity beyond giving money. Over the coming year, we will be working to further expand our understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing third sector organisations and exploring how we might be able to bring added value to our work with them

Stirling Hub

We continue to provide subsidised office and meeting space to the 27 charity tenants in Robertson House Glasgow. During the year we started work on the new 30,000 square foot charity hub in Stirling which, as well as providing subsidised accommodation, will offer a 200-seat conference facility focussed on supporting charity events.

Social Impact

Our work to build and share evidence around areas of strategic interest to us drew to a close in the areas of alcohol misuse and criminal justice. However, we are pleased to be expanding our new themes which aim to build understanding around what we can do to improve the lives of children and young people; and women and girls. As our plans develop over the next year, we hope to bring forward new programmes which will develop these areas.


Our Scholarship work helping young people achieve their potential has continued to grow. During the year we supported over 500 young people while at university. As well as this, we started to reach back into secondary and primary schools to raise confidence, aspiration and achievement at an earlier age. Our graduates continued to outperform the national averages with 85% getting a 2:1 or better on graduation.

None of the above achievements would have been possible without the commitment and hard work of the staff team and Trustees, who have generously given of their time. For this I am personally very grateful. I do hope that you enjoy reading of the continued impact of the Robertson sisters’ marvellous legacy - download our Annual Review here.