Advice and Counselling Service

Advice and Counselling Service menu

Charities and Trusts

Charities and Trusts

Funding from charities and trusts is one of several options you may wish to explore to help you fund the cost of your postgraduate study. You might explore this option when planning your funding as a prospective student, or it may be an option to consider if you are already a postgraduate student but your planned funding has been disrupted, or you are facing an unexpected cost.

It is not advisable to rely on charitable funding as a main source of income, but if you are successful, it could contribute to the overall package you need to put in place to cover your fees and living costs. Many charities aim to assist only the most vulnerable members of society but some can offer help with educational costs if you meet their criteria.

Before deciding whether to apply for this type of funding, there are some key points to consider. You need to:

  • apply well in advance of the year you need funding for so you can make alternative plans if you are not successful
  • set aside enough time to research and apply to several individual trusts and charities as most will offer successful applicants small amounts of money rather than a larger lump sum
  • make sure you meet all of the eligibility criteria before you apply as most charities have strict criteria such as an upper age limit or living in a certain location
  • apply by any stated deadlines

We explain below some ways of searching for charitable funding:

The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding

Queen Mary University of London has subscribed to the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. The Alternative Guide is a website featuring a database of over 750 charities. It was written by two postgraduate students who between them have won over £45,000 from 55 different charity awards to fund their own postgraduate studies. Read the 'Student Stories' section of the guide for helpful advice from real students who have secured funding. The guide will take you through the whole process, from identifying charities to making applications for funding. You can use the database whether you are looking for a large amount of funding, or a small amount for a specific project or conference attendance, whether you need help with tuition fees or for living costs. 

Current Queen Mary students and staff can access the information for free via the Alternative Guide Gateway by registering with their Queen Mary e-mail address, or logging on automatically from campus.

If you are a prospective student, you can also access the guide for free, by entering a PIN. To get the current PIN please e-mail

Learned Societies

A Learned Society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline or profession, or a group of related disciplines or professions. They are mostly non-profit organisations. Some also act as professional bodies. Learned Societies may offer their members a range of funding opportunities, including grants and awards.

You can use the list of Learned Societies on the Queen Mary website to see if there is one related to your academic discipline or profession, and if so, whether they have any funding opportunities which you could apply for:

Turn2us grant search

If you have particular circumstances, you could try using the Turn2us grant search which allows you to filter your search by criteria.

Some examples of relevant circumstances include:

  • coming to university from care or homelessness
  • belonging to certain professions (you or your family members)
  • having a particular health issue or support need
  • belonging to a particular religion

The Turn2us website includes detailed information about what help is available from charities and trusts, how to search the grants database, and how to apply for charitable funding.

When should I apply? 

Many trustees meet only once or twice a year to assess applications, so it is important that you apply before the relevant deadlines. Some trusts may agree to offer funding at the start of your course and then a small top up in each subsequent year of your course. It is usually a good idea to apply well in advance of the first year you need funding for and by any stated deadline to ensure your application stands the best chance of being considered. Other trusts may offer one-off help to students who find themselves in financial hardship once their course has started, particularly if you are near the end of your course. These trusts may also have deadlines which you would need to check before applying. 

How do I apply? 

You will need to carefully research the criteria of trusts and charities and then make separate applications to each relevant trust or charity, explaining your situation and how you meet their criteria. You may need to complete an application form, which the trust can send you or which you can download from their website. If there is no application form, you will need to write a letter to the trustees who will decide your application. It is advisable to write a letter even if you have completed an application form as a letter enables you to explain your situation more fully, which maximises your chances of success. Once you have written your letter , you can contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like your letter checked. The Welfare Adviser may also be able to write a letter to go with yours, if that is required. However, if evidence of your academic ability is required, you would need to request this from your personal adviser, tutor or student support officer in your academic school. However, you can still contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service to get feedback on your application and supporting evidence. 

In your letter, explain the following clearly:

How you meet the eligibility criteria

If the trust only helps people in a certain age group, or who live in a particular area, state clearly at the beginning of your letter your age, or the area where you live. If it is not clear to the trustees that you are eligible to apply, they might reject your application.

About your studies

Explain what course you are studying and where, which academic year you are in and when you expect to complete the course.

Trusts and charities usually have very limited funds, and they want to be sure that any money they give you will enable you to complete your course. For this reason many trusts are more likely to help final year students, so if this is the case, emphasise this strongly. If you are not in your final year, try to explain how you plan to fund any future years of your course, so that the trustees can see that you will still be able to complete your course.

It can also be helpful to explain why you are studying this course, for example, what career you hope to do after graduation. This helps to demonstrate how serious you are about the course and how important it is for you to complete it, which can make your application more compelling.

Why you are in financial need

The trustees need to understand your financial situation and why you are asking for financial support. If you have a main source of funding but it is not quite enough to cover all of your costs, explain this. If your main source of funding has been temporarily disrupted or it has ended, explain this. If you have exceptional circumstances, such as long term illness or disability, or childcare responsibilities, explain this. Make it clear whether your financial difficulties are a one-off problem, affecting you only in the current academic year, or if they will continue throughout your course.

How much money you need

You need to present a clear budget listing all of your income and essential expenditure, so that the trustees can see your shortfall (how much money you need). If you are applying part way through an academic year, you will just need to show how much money you need to complete the academic year. You can use the budget planner spreadsheet which you can download from the budgeting pages of the website and the Advice and Counselling Service Advice Guide. 

If you need further help with this, contact a Welfare Adviser.

Where else you are applying

Explain how many other trusts and charities you are applying to, so that the trustees understand that you are not expecting them to give you enough money to cover your entire shortfall. If you have already been granted money from another trust or charity, or from the University, make this clear, and if possible include evidence, such as the award letter.

Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

Return to top