What we do

The Swire Charitable Trust’s core aim is to help deliver positive and lasting change to UK society. We do this by making grants to UK registered charities working in one of our three core funding programme areas, each with its own specific areas of focus.

Our funding programmes:



Improving life chances

We support charities that are experienced in addressing the challenges faced by certain groups.

Specifically, we fund activities that can be shown to be a catalyst for long-term positive change in the lives of:

  • Care-experienced children and young people
  • Ex-servicemen and women
  • Victims of slavery and human trafficking
  • Young offenders
Case study


Realising potential

Helping children and young people from marginalised or challenged backgrounds to fulfil their potential and make the most of their talents.

In particular, we look to fund charities that are working outside mainstream education to:

  • Narrow the attainment gap for children from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Equip young people with the essential skills they need to help them re-engage with education, training, employment or volunteering
Case study


Regeneration through restoration

We are keen to fund projects that not only have legitimacy from a heritage perspective, but also have the potential to deliver substantial social and economic benefits to deprived communities or disadvantaged people.

We also fund charities that are focused on keeping traditional and at-risk skills alive.

Case study


The Trust’s discretionary fund, which is inspired by John Swire & Sons’ stakeholders and steered by our trustees, is able to make gifts to charitable organisations that fall outside of these funding areas.

About our grants

Across our three programmes, we take a consistent, well-defined approach to the type of charity we support and how we make and structure our grants.

Who do we support?

We prioritise charities that:

  • Operate in some of the most economically disadvantaged parts of the UK and work with people from the most challenged backgrounds
  • Can clearly demonstrate the needs they are addressing
  • Know what they are aiming to achieve and plan to monitor and evaluate outcomes
  • Are well placed and qualified to deliver the work
  • Can show a proven track record as well as solid ambitions
  • Have the potential to change the way issues are tackled more widely
  • Take an effective approach to using volunteers and mentors (where appropriate)
  • Are seeking to make their income streams more sustainable
  • Have strong and quality leadership
  • Manage their finances prudently

What can’t we fund?

Please note that our core funding programmes are unable to consider:

  • Applications received by post or email, i.e. not via our online funding request form
  • Organisations that are not UK registered charities
  • Requests from charities that have applied to us in the last 12 months
  • Individual applicants or proposals that will benefit only one person
  • Activities taking place outside England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • Work that has already taken place
  • Statutory bodies or work that is primarily the responsibility of statutory authorities (e.g. residential, respite and day care, housing and the provision of mainstream education in schools, nurseries and colleges)
  • Activities of local organisations which are part of a wider network doing similar work (e.g. uniformed youth groups, YMCA, MIND, Mencap, Home-start, Wildlife Trusts, RDA, Relate, Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK etc)
  • Medical-related activities – such as those offering treatment, care, advice, research or equipment
  • Animal welfare charities
  • Academic research, scholarships or bursaries

The Trust’s discretionary fund is not subject to these funding exclusions.

Types and conditions of funding

Types of funding

Grants from our core programme will aim to meet the needs identified in your application. We will fund individual projects that are aligned with our funding priorities but we also recognise that charities themselves are often best placed to allocate resources within their organisations. Therefore our grants are sometimes awarded on an unrestricted basis and we are willing to support core costs, capital expenditure and salaries.

There is no maximum or minimum grant size and, although we base our grants on the amount requested and the size of organisation, we may award more or less than you applied for.

While most of our grants are for one year only, we appreciate that charities welcome security of funding. So, where a longer-term commitment can be clearly justified, we are willing to consider multi-year grants of up to three years.

Our small team processes a large number of requests and grants each year. With such limited resources, we are unable to consider more complex funding arrangements, like loans, or offer other types of support such as advice, feedback or networking opportunities.

Standard conditions of funding

We aim to provide funding with as few strings attached as possible, but our grants usually come with a set of simple conditions. Any additional requirements will appear in the grant letter. We generally make our payments by cheque, usually soon after a grant is awarded.

For grants of £25,000 or more and for multi-year grants, we now ask grantees for a simple report, either at the end of the grant period or, for multi-year grants, one month before the next payment tranche is due.

If we are funding a specific project that is subsequently found to be nonviable, grantees will need to seek our approval before reallocating our grant to another purpose.

We are happy to be named in charity donor lists, such as in annual reviews, but we ask you to get in touch if you wish to highlight the Trust in any other way.


Sadly, because we receive many more applications than we could ever hope to support (85% of all applications are unsuccessful), some of the requests we turn down will be closely aligned with our funding priorities.