Membership Application Notes

1. Membership categories

Full membership

Full membership is for UK organisations in which grant-making is the principal function.

ACF interprets the term grant-making to include investing for charitable purposes. Examples of this might include, but not be limited to, the following activities undertaken for charitable purposes:

  • Grants of money, or donations of assets or professional support;
  • Investing via loans, equity-like capital and other social investment instruments;
  • Using resources directly or via partners to develop programmes of research, policy work or practical interventions.

Please contact ACF before filling out this application if your organisation invests for charitable purposes.

Full membership carries voting and other formal rights within ACF. Full members must fund a substantial part of their grant-making through income derived from endowment, property, or another assured source. Where a trust/foundation has several sources of income, at least 30% must be from assured sources to qualify for full membership. The following table shows what are regarded as assured and non-assured sources of income:

Assured sources

  • Interest and dividends on investments
  • Rent from land or real property owned by the trust/foundation
  • Spending of capital
  • Regular long-term donations, committed over at least three years, from one or more companies or individuals
  • Well established periodic public appeals
  • National Lottery Distribution Fund

Non-assured sources

  • One-off or irregular donations from individuals and companies
  • General fund-raising or one-off public appeals
  • Payroll-giving, except where established over a long period
  • Government grants
  • Other grant-making trusts and foundations

Associate Membership

Associate membership is for grant-making organisations whose income is not assured, or who are based outside the UK, or where grant-making is a subsidiary function. Associate membership is not available for organisations which are eligible for full membership.

If grant-making is one of several functions, but not obviously ‘principal’ or ‘subsidiary’, please explain in a separate letter its relative importance in relation to other functions and give approximate percentages of your work in money or staff time.

Associate members are entitled to participate in all ACF activities, except that they do not have a vote in formal processes.

Affiliate membership

Affiliate membership is a discretionary category available for organisations which administer or act as trustee for several grant-making bodies. Please contact ACF before filling out this application if you believe your organisation is eligible for affiliate membership.

2. ACF’s objects

It is a condition of membership that a member should support ACF’s objects, which are as follows:

The Association is established to further the work of charitable grant-making trusts and institutions for the public benefit by :

  1. advancing the education of the public in such trusts and institutions and carrying out research and publishing the results of such research;
  2. promoting the collective and individual effectiveness of such trusts and institutions and better methods of administration and management of their resources

We support UK foundations and grant-making charities