Scotland’s biggest trust having to fund charities’ salary costs


​Changing priorities for trust being dictated by economic factors 

26th October 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Scotland’s biggest grant giving trust says it is having to finance charities’ staff costs as economic conditions become tougher.

The Robertson Trust awarded more than £18.2 million last year to 742 charities and says it is getting far more applications than ever before.

It is now set to expand its support to help charities cope with funding cuts and is investing in research to help organisations and government target spending better.

Founded by Elspeth, Ethel and Agnes Robertson, who inherited the Robertson and Baxter whisky empire, the trust has always operated quietly in the background despite being the largest of its kind in the country. 

We are now helping fund core costs such as salaries, which 10 years ago we wouldn’t have - Dame Barbara Kelly

Since its foundation in 1961, it has distributed over £150m to good causes.

Now it is having to adapt its remit to take on tougher economic challenges according to Dame Barbara Kelly, the trust’s chair.

“We are now helping fund core costs such as salaries, which 10 years ago we wouldn’t have. But charities are facing very tough times, making cuts while still having to deliver on contacts with local authorities, for instance,” she said.

“We are getting a huge number more applications than we used to five years ago.”

“Because the fund set up by the sisters offers us stability, we are able to look to the future and plan in a way other charities are not able to do. That’s useful at a time when the sector is being asked to do more for less all the time.”

It has also moved into criminal justice, funding a number of charities with innovative approaches.

It recently funded a £33,000 theatre-in-prison scheme at HMP Kilmarnock as part of a programme helping young people beat the cycle of offending.