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About Henry Duncan Awards

Please click here for details of recent funding awards

The Henry Duncan Awards is the Foundation’s general grant-making programme which supports grassroots charities operating in Scotland.  The programme is named after the Rev. Henry Duncan who had a driving concern for the under-privileged and whose vision and compassion led to the founding of the worldwide savings bank movement.  As the Foundation was originally formed by the Trustee Savings Bank, it was fitting that we named our grant programme after this great man.

To apply to the Henry Duncan Awards, charities must have an annual income of less than £500,000 and be delivering programmes or services which are clearly focused on improving the quality of life for members of the community facing disadvantage.  One-off awards of up to £7,000 are made to charities working with people who may typically be experiencing challenging family circumstances, disability, mental ill health, abuse or poverty.

At present, the Foundation is particularly interested in supporting:

  • vulnerable children and young people
  • isolated older people
  • carers
  • families in poverty
  • people affected by disability or mental health issues.

Please note that it is important that applicants can clearly demonstrate the difference that our funding will make to the people they work with and how their quality of life will be improved in the longer term.

Applicants can apply for core funding, such as running costs or salaries, or project funds.  We will consider applications for small capital costs such as equipment.

Our Trustees meet six times a year to consider Henry Duncan Award applications and as there is an assessment period beforehand, applications need to be sent to us three months before the relevant meeting.

If you would like to know more about Henry Duncan Awards and get advice on whether your application would be a good fit with our aims, why not attend one of our funding surgeries.  We run monthly Skype sessions as well as face-to-face surgeries throughout the year.  But if you have any specific questions you would like to talk through now, why not give us a call or drop us an email.


Apply For Funding

Criteria And Principles

We strongly advise that before you complete the application form that you read our HDA Criteria & Principles 2017 document carefully to ensure that your application fits within our criteria.

Application Form

The easiest way to apply is to complete an application form online but if you prefer you can complete an application as a word document which we can email or post to you. For further information please contact or 0131 444 4020.

Closing Dates

The Trustees will hold six Board Meetings this year. Closing dates are  set to allow time to give thorough consideration to each individual submission.

Board Meeting               Closing Date

December 2016                  19 September 2016

February 2017                    16 November 2016

March 2017                         23 January 2017

June 2017                            27 March 2017

August 2017                         22 May 2017

October 2017                       24 July 2017

December 2017                   25 September 2017

Your application must be received by the closing date. If you are using the word document application, the form must be emailed (with the appropriate attachments) or delivered to our office in Edinburgh by the relevant closing date.

Please feel free to contact us at any time during the application process if you need any help or guidance.

Current Grant-Holders

You cannot hold two Henry Duncan Awards at the same time.  However, you can start the application process for another grant towards the end of your current funding period.  This would allow your new application to be considered at the board meeting 12 months after your last grant, enabling continuation funding to be possible.

When re-applying, we will need to see a report on your previous grant, so if you have not already provided a progress report, please include one with your new application. If you are making a new application before the full progress report is available you must provide an interim report.  You can use this template for your full or interim report.

Unsuccessful Applications

Unfortunately, we receive far more applications than we can fund.  In 2015 the success rate for applications (which met criteria) was just over 60% and the majority of awardees were focused on working in one of our priority areas.

We are committed to providing honest feedback to all applicants, successful or not, and we encourage organisations to take this feedback into consideration if they decide to re-apply.

All applicants must leave 12 months between applications.

Hints and Tips

General Application Tips:

  • If you can, book a surgery advice appointment before you start completing the application form.
  • Read the guidance notes.
  • Keep it simple – be concise and direct, avoid jargon.
  • Acronyms – assume that we won’t know what they mean.
  • Facts and figures can be powerful.
  • Focus your application on work or activities with people who are affected by disadvantage.
  • Tell us about the difference our support will make to people.
  • Always provide a detailed breakdown of costs and make sure your figures add up.
  • Tell us about other fundraising – we are particularly interested to know about approaches to other charitable trusts as well as local community fundraising. You should include projected fee income.
  • Remember to include the necessary enclosures: job descriptions, signed accounts, bank statement and progress/interim report (for current grant holders).
  • Please only email or send additional documents that you feel are absolutely necessary. Please use your judgement – it is unlikely that time will allow for reading of a 200 page business plan.
  • It is often useful for us to see a case study and this can be included in the ‘additional information’ section.
  • If you have not already provided one, be sure to enclose a progress report (or interim report) in relation to any previous award from the Foundation.
  • Keep a copy of your application (useful to refer back to when assessment takes place)
  • Read the guidance notes thoroughly

Online Application Tips:

Our online application system is still at a very early stage of development, so please bear with us if you encounter any difficulties.  Here are some tips on using the online system:

  • Do not press the back arrow on browser bar as it will take you out of your application.
  • To be able to save a draft:
    You need to complete the charity email information – and note that this is the email where we will send the link that will let you retrieve the draft. You also need to complete any field with a red bar next to it.

You can then save as draft, we will then email you the link and you can retrieve and work on your application until it is ready to be sent.

  • Periodically scroll down and save your draft – just incase.
  • Type longer answers on a word document and then copy it across.
  • Before sending your final application, go back and check every box.
  • Make sure you have actually sent the application by the closing date and it is not still a draft copy.
  • You can send your final application before the closing date if it is ready. This lets us start the assessment process.

If you feel that there are other tips that would be useful for people to know, please email us and we can share them.

Funding Surgeries

The Foundation holds funding surgeries across Scotland, giving people the opportunity to discuss a possible Henry Duncan Awards application before the application form is completed and sent to us. As well as face-to-face surgeries, we also run monthly Skype support sessions which means that wherever you are in the country, we can talk to you face-to-face.

You don’t need to come to a funding surgery – it’s not something we take into account when we assess your application – but generally people who have been to a surgery complete better applications and so are more likely to receive an award.

Please take a look at the full list of funding surgeries taking place this year:



Wednesday 22 – Edinburgh


Wednesday 5 – Skype/call

Tuesday 11 – Glasgow


Wednesday 3 – Skype/call

Wednesday 10 – Edinburgh

Tuesday 30 – Inverness


Tuesday 6 – Glasgow

Wednesday 7 – Skype/call


Wednesday 5 – Skype/call

Wednesday 19 – Edinburgh


Wednesday 2 – Skype/call

Wednesday 22 – Glasgow


Wednesday 6 – Skype/call

Tuesday 12 – Edinburgh


Wednesday 4 – Skype/call

Tuesday 10 – Glasgow


Wednesday 8 – Skype/call

Tuesday 14 – Hamilton

Tuesday 14 – Edinburgh


Wednesday 6 – Skype/call

Tuesday 12 – Glasgow

To book a place at a surgery, or to arrange a 45 minute appointment, call us on: 0131 444 4020 or email

Assessment Process


Before you complete the application form you can access advice & assistance through surgeries, Skype or telephone support

Assessment Phase

When we receive your application, it is assigned to an Assessor who will contact you to discuss the application (either by telephone or personal visit)

The Assessor will produce a report based on the information in your application and their discussion with you.

This report is presented to the Assessment Team at their weekly Challenge Meeting.

After this meeting, the Assessor may contact you to clarify or ask for additional information.

The Team agrees a recommendation

Decision & Post-decision Phase

The Trustees consider all applications, with recommendations, at their Board meeting and make a final decision

Emails advising the outcome of each Board Meeting are sent out within seven days

12 months later

If you received an award, we expect you to send us a progress report by the end of the grant period.

We will provide you with any relevant feedback on your report.

We may contact you by phone or visit to find out more.

Whether you are successful or not, applicants must leave 12 months between applications. However, there is a lead-in time of around 12 weeks so if your application was considered at the April 2016 board meeting, you can submit an application in January 2017 which will go to the board meeting in April 2017

Information for Current Grantholders


Out Trustees are always interested to know what difference our funding has made, and we like to follow up all our awards, regardless of size.

As a condition of your grant, we ask for a progress report 12 months after your award was made letting us know what you did with the money and what difference it made to the people you work with. The following guidance notes outline the information we need you to supply when reporting on your award, which you can read by clicking the link below:

Evaluation Guidance Notes

We have created a template that you can use for your report. However, if you have already produced a report for another funder that covers the work we have funded, we are happy to accept that. Even if it doesn’t cover everything you want to report to us, some of the information may be relevant so it is well worth checking to see what you could use so you minimise any extra work.

You may find it helpful to read this short report that was produced by the Scotland Funders’ Forum: Reporting good practice for funded organisations.

Please also attach a copy of your most recent accounts and email the completed documents to us at

Please be assured that we do read your reports, and indeed an Assessor may contact you with some feedback or to request some extra information. We also like to visit some projects as part of our own evaluation processes but this doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with your report.


If you need any guidance or support to complete your progress report, please feel free to contact us.

For information on outcomes or monitoring and evaluation, we also encourage charities to contact Evaluation Support Scotland and you can visit their website here where you will find lots of resources.


You cannot hold two Henry Duncan Awards at the same time. However, you can start the application process for another grant towards the end of your current funding period. This would allow your new

application to be considered at the board meeting 12 months after your last grant, enabling continuation funding to be possible.

When re-applying, we will need to see a report on our previous grant, so if you have not already provided a progress report, please include one with your new application. If you are making a new application before the full progress report is available you must provide an interim report. You can use this template or your full or interim report.

Capacity Building

Charities will be considered for capacity building support specifically around monitor and evaluation skills, as a result of applying for funding through the Henry Duncan Awards.

A limited number of charities will be put forward to receive this support as a result of needs being identified during the assessment process. It is entirely up to the charities selected whether they want to proceed with this, and if they decide not to it will have no impact on any other application they may make to the Foundation.

The support provided takes the form of an Evaluation Support Account (ESA). The principle of an ESA is that charities have a “bank” of support which they can use at a time and in a way that suits their needs. The Foundation’s ESA is made up of a mix of places on ESS’s evaluation workshops and one to one tailored support. Typically this works out at three days but some charities use more support and some less.

This support would normally cost around £1,000 and the Foundation will provide it to the charity free, although it will involve a commitment of time from the charity. If the charity decides not to go ahead with the support, please let us know as soon as possible as places are limited and we could offer the ESA to someone else.

Charities that have received evaluation support from ESS have reported that the support has helped them:

  • Have greater clarity about what they are trying to achieve
  • Create systems and forms that are more user (and staff) friendly
  • Write clearer and more targeted reports
  • Gather better evidence for future funding (from other funders)
  • Feel more confident about evaluation
  • Create more enthusiasm for monitoring and evaluation
  • Develop a better sense of service users needs
  • Build better learning and so deliver better services

Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) deliver focused evaluation development to help charities understand how to measure the impact of the work they do. They do this using a mixture of practical support and access to resources and tools. ESS has years of experience in supporting Scotland’s charities get better at evaluating their work and use the results to improve what they deliver. They have been working with us since 2009 to support some of the charities receiving funding through the Henry Duncan Awards.


Who is Henry Duncan?
The Rev. Henry Duncan was a Church of Scotland Minister from Dumfries who had a driving concern for the under-privileged and whose vision and compassion led to the founding of the worldwide savings bank movement in 1810. As the Foundation was originally formed by the Trustee Savings Bank, it was fitting that we named our grant programme after this great man.

How much funding is available through the Henry Duncan Awards?
The Trustees commit around £1 million to the Henry Duncan Awards each year.

How can I get help with an application?
We are happy to speak to people about their application. You can call us on 0131 444 4020, e-mail us, or come to one of our funding surgeries.

Q How do you decide who gets awards?
Everyone who applies to us fills out an application, and we assess each of these individually. We make awards based on how well the work organisations would like us to fund fits with our criteria and priorities, and how much confidence we have that this work will be delivered. As we tend to fund parts of projects we’re also interested in how likely it is that other money will be raised to allow the work to go ahead. None of our decisions are based on geography – at each round of awards, the groups with the strongest overall application get the awards. We are also limited by how much money we have, so at times we have to say no to organisations we might like to fund because we’ve reached the limit on the amount of money we can award.

How soon can you reapply for another award?
You can apply for another grant just under a year after your last payment was scheduled. So you can send your application to us for the deadline date just before the year is up, so this will be considered at the Board Meeting one year after your last award was made. This means that if you are successful, your new award continues on from the one you already have.

Is there a minimum amount you can apply for?
No. We make awards of all sizes – everything from a couple of hundred pounds up to £7,000.

We are a branch of a national charity. Could we apply at the same time as another branch of the same organisation?
Yes, provided you have your own accounts and your own management committee. If you have both of these you can apply independently of your parent organisation.

If I am unsuccessful, how soon can I reapply?
You need to wait a year before reapplying. This means you can submit your application so that a decision is made a year after the original decision, so you can send it to us in time for the deadline date a few months before this.

If I am unsuccessful can I get some feedback on why this was?
We automatically provide feedback to everyone who applies to the Foundation.

What do I need to do if I have an award but can’t spend the money on what we had planned?
All our awards are made for specific reasons – they become restricted funds when a charity receives them. If you have been given an award by us and aren’t able to do what you originally intended with us, speak to us about this as soon as possible. It may be possible for our Trustees to change the award reason, or, if what you want to do with the money no longer fits with our priorities, you may have to return the award to us. If you are unable to spend the money, for example if your charity closes, you will need to return the award to us.

What if I need longer than originally planned to spend the money?
We know that sometimes projects are delayed, so we can sometimes give an extension to our awards. If you think you won’t be able to spend the money within the allocated time, get in touch with us as soon as possible to discuss this with us.

Some of the awards you make are conditional. Why is this?
When we make awards for things like salaries, we make the payments once someone has actually been appointed to do the job we are funding.

The organisation I work with is not a registered charity but does some work in Scotland that improves people’s lives. Can we apply?
No – you must be a Scottish registered charity to apply to the Foundation.

We are a Community Interest Company (CIC). Can we apply to you?
No. You need to be a Scottish registered charity.

We are a Social Enterprise. Can we apply to you?
Only if you are a Scottish registered charity and the work you are applying for meets our criteria.

The charity I work with is not registered with OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator), but with the Charity Commission in England and Wales. Can we still apply?
No. You need to be registered with OSCR.

If I receive an award, what sort of follow-up is there?
We obviously need to know that you have spent the money as planned, and we ask everyone to send us a short report a year after they receive their grant. This just lets us keep records of what is happening with the money we have awarded and the difference this is making.