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Trends in our Open Awards

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.

2017/18 was another busy year for The Robertson Trust's Giving Team. Not only did our Open Awards rise from £14 million to £16.9 million, but we also attended more outreach events across the country than ever before and launched our own drop-in sessions here at Robertson House, in which potential applicants could book appointments to talk one-to-one with our Funding Officers.

As many will know, our Open Awards programme is organised by three strands - Care and Wellbeing, Strengthening Communites and Realising Potential - each of which has three distinct themes within it. These seek to meet the needs of people and communities facing disadvantage across Scotland and developed from thorough consultation with Scotland's Third Sector.

Having launched in late 2016, this year marked the first full year of funding in this way and we are now seeking to use the robust data we collect to ensure our resources continue to focus on areas of real need.

With this in mind, we thought it may be useful to break down some of the trends we have seen across 2017/18 and identify some of our funding priorities looking ahead. I've also linked, where applicable, to some strong examples of projects we fund to bring the priorities of each theme to life.

This strand is aimed at improving the quality of life for older people and for those affected by physical and mental health issues.

Theme 1: Ensuring the best quality of life for Scotland’s vulnerable adults, including those directly or indirectly affected by dementia

Over the past year, we have seen an increase in applications around local day services, particularly those keeping older people engaged with their communities. While this is certainly positive, we are particularly interested in preventative activities which encourage older people to remain active and healthy. Going forward, this is an area we are keen to increase our investment in. Read the latest funding story.

Theme 2: Improving the health and wellbeing of children & young people affected by mental and/ or physical ill health

Here, we have seen an increased number of applications for work to help young people struggling with mental health. Many of these are requests to increase the capacity of services. While we recognise the value of this, we are particularly interested in funding initiatives to address young people’s underlying health issues and prevent escalation – for example, access to appropriate counselling and bereavement support at a time in a young person’s life when it really matters. Read the latest funding story.

Theme 3: Supporting adults with life-limiting, long-term health conditions or disability to overcome barriers and remain involved with their communities

Our biggest award of the year came in this theme, with £500,000 (major capital) being awarded to Sue Ryder Care to provide residential care for people with neurological conditions. We are keen to use this theme to support projects which help people with long-term health conditions to live independently.  View all Care and Wellbeing funding stories.


This strand supports work benefiting those disproportionately affected by social inequality – either economically, or because they fall within a marginalised group. We recognise the value of building on local assets and wish to support organisations and communities who come together to create meaningful, sustainable solutions to address local need.

Theme 1: Reducing health and social inequalities in Scotland’s communities

This year, we have funded preventative services, including pre-birth and parental support to give families the best start in life, and Home-Start projects that match volunteers with families of pre-school age children. We also fund crisis services such as those supporting women at risk and directly affected by domestic violence. View all Strengthening Communities funding stories.

Theme 2: Supporting people and communities to find routes out of poverty

We would like to fund more applications in this area, developed to nurture community services that build skills and networks to support people affected by food poverty and financial literacy. Whilst we continue to receive applications for foodbanks, our focus is on reducing people’s dependency on such crisis services. We are also a longstanding supporter of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Theme 3: Empowering communities

We wish to fund projects and activities developed by local people in response to the needs of their community – for example village halls, which we know are often a lifeline for those living in rural communities. They are included in this theme, along with capital and revenue funding for facilities and assets taken into community ownership. Read the latest funding story.


With this strand, we support initiatives that help build confidence and resilience in young people, particularly those facing barriers to success. We also fund initiatives that identify and nurture talented young people who have the potential to become leaders within their field.

Theme 1: Enabling young people to realise their potential

We have invested significantly in youth work over the past year, providing both strategic funding (through agencies such as Youth Scotland) and funding support to grass roots youth projects that run activities designed to improve youth peoples’ skills, confidence and self-esteem. Read the latest funding story.

Theme 2: Supporting ‘at risk’ young people to make positive choices

We are aware that many young people face particular barriers to achieving their goals. We fund projects and activities that target such hard-to-reach young people and help them make informed choices. These often include using sport or creative activities as a platform for engagement, as reflected in our Sport for Change agenda.

We are keen to see charities come forward with applications that build on learning from Sport for Change, particularly those which do not see themselves as sports organisations, but are working with young people who could benefit from this approach. Read the latest funding story.

Theme 3: Broadening horizons and nurturing talents among Scotland’s young people

We have funded outreach work with a view to providing opportunities for young people, often those in rural communities, to build on their existing skills and talents. This may be creative arts or learning in new subjects, particularly STEM or digital skills. Read the latest funding story.

Looking ahead, we will continue to review the trends we see in our Open Awards programme and use the data we collect to make informed decisions about the best areas to direct our investments. I look forward to sharing this information more regularly in the coming year and would also also advise all those with an interest to keep an eye on our events page and social channels for details of our most recent awards and upcoming funding events.

Meanwhile, potential applicants are reminded that requests for Main and Major (revenue and capital) awards are considered at four Giving Committee meetings over the course of each year.  Requests for all other types of award (small, continuation 2 & 3, continuation 4 & 5) are assessed as part of a rolling programme with no specific deadlines. You can find out more details about our upcoming deadlines here and sign up to receive our awards direct to your email inbox here.