About half of the £700,000 disbursed by the Charitable Trust each year goes to around 30 so-called Principal Charities. These are organisations with which the Trust wishes to have an enduring and close relationship. Because the Trust is keen that its contribution makes a significant difference to the charity, those chosen tend to be smaller charities, rather than large national ones where the Trust’s contribution would be less visible.
Grants to Principal Charities are for annual amounts of up to £25,000 per annum. As a rule, the grants are awarded for 3 years, during which time they are regularly reviewed to ensure that the Trust’s donation is being well spent. At the end of the three-year period, a major review is undertaken, as a result of which the grants may be continued for a further three years. The criteria against which the grants are reviewed are as follows:
- Does the charity’s model of operation work?
- Does the charity have the desire and means to assess the value of its work?
- What is the outcome of the grant?
- Is the charity financially sound?
- Is it possible to develop a close working relationship with the charity?
In addition, new Principal Charities must support specific areas of need which have been agreed by the Court of the Girdlers’ Company. These are subject to periodic review, but are currently as follows:
- The improvement in people’s employability, in order to improve their sense of self-worth and economic independence;
- The improvement in carers' health and wellbeing, in order that they are able to continue supporting those for whom they care;
- The reduction in mental health disorders, to improve people's overall health and happiness;
- The improvement in people’s literacy (irrespective of age), in order to help their integration into society and improve economic wellbeing;
- The reduction in prisoner reoffending, in order to support their integration as active and positive members of society and help make society a safer place.
The Girdlers’ Company is also keen to ensure an active role in charitable works by all members of the Livery, so each of the Principal Charities is assigned a member of the Livery who acts as a liaison officer between the Trust and the charity, visiting the charity’s centre of operations, helping in any way they can, and also reporting back to the Trust on the charity’s performance against the review criteria.
In May each year the Charitable Trust holds its Prizegiving evening at Girdlers' Hall, at which Girdlers’ Medallions are presented by the Master Girdler to individuals nominated by the Trust’s Principal Charities in recognition of their talents and endeavours. The nominations are not restricted to beneficiaries of the charity, but can include employees and volunteers.
Medallions have been awarded in the past to individuals from charities as diverse as The AHOY Centre, Westminster House Youth Club, Queen Elizabeth Foundation, SportsAid London, Devas Club and the Royal School of Needlework.
The awards ceremony is followed by a buffet supper.