What do we spend donations on?

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The Trussell Trust is a charity which supports a network of 1,200 food bank centres across the UK to provide emergency support to people as we work together towards a future where everyone has enough food.  

We don’t spend donated money on food to give to people – the vast majority of food provided by food banks in our network is donated generously by members of the public.  

We’re working to end the need for food banks and while it’s not a simple task, it can be done. If we’re to reach a future where everyone can afford essentials, we need to do three things:  

  1. Support food banks to provide the best possible support to people right now  
  2. Tackle the structural issues that lead to people needing food banks in long-term
  3. Win hearts and minds over to inspire action to create a just society.  

So what does that actually mean in terms of work?  

Helping food banks provide the best possible support to people 

There are more than 1,300 food bank centres in our network across the UK, and we help them give the best possible support to people.

  • We give grants to fund extra services and advisors in food banks, who provide vital financial advice on debt and social security, and can put people in touch with other local services
  • We create partnerships with national organisations that link people who need a food bank up with services that get money into their pockets – for example our Help through Hardship helpline with Citizens Advice, which helps people access advice and support at the point of crisis. In the last year this helpline has unlocked an average of £3,000 for each person helped – this is money people were entitled to from the social security system but didn’t know about, or had difficulty claiming.

We also invest in and support community groups to make their work easier and help them be stronger for whatever role and support they provide in a future where no one needs a food bank, with grants, funding, advice and systems.

  • We provide a bespoke system that connects each food bank with local charities and organisations who refer people who need support, gathers information on why people need support, and monitors stock levels, so food banks can operate effectively and efficiently
  • We provide community groups training and support with volunteer recruitment
  • We provide each food bank with direct support from expert teams to help them overcome operational, logistical, technological and financial challenges – helping them provide support today but also plan for a future where their community work doesn’t need to involve emergency food parcels

Tackling the structural issues that lead people to need food banks 

We’re working to end the need for food banks in the future through a range of research, advocacy and campaigning work. We work with academics and researchers to understand who needs food banks and why, so we can then work with policy makers to push for changes that would better protect people from needing a food bank 

Winning hearts and minds over to inspire action to create a just society 

If we want a society that not only thinks it’s wrong people need food banks, but is ready and willing to take action to create a future where food banks aren’t needed, we need to take people on a journey to help them understand what drives people to need food banks and how we can change things. That’s why we’re also working to build a movement of people who care, understand and want to keep the conversation about food bank use in the UK on the agenda so there’s public pressure to address these crucial issues.   

So what money goes where? 

We take our responsibility for any money donated to us very seriously. We spend some money on salaries because to do all of this work we need to be able to pay a team for their expertiseWe’re always carefully weighing decisions about expenditure to ensure what we spend money on is appropriate, while ensuring we have a team that are paid for their skills and experience 

Our financial information is all available online and our most recent annual report is for the year to March 2020. In it you can see £4.78 million went out directly to food banks in grants and £4.88 million was spent on food bank network costs and benefits. In total, about 70% of the Trussell Trust’s income supported or benefitted food banks directly. 12% was used to fund our advocacy work to push for long-lasting change. 7% was used to run charity shops and other social enterprise projects which you can read more about here, and 12% went towards fundraising costs. 

We don’t think it’s right that anyone needs to use a food bank in the UK. And we know this can change. That’s why we spend donor money on supporting food banks to provide the best possible support to people right now, tackling the structural issues that lead to people needing food banks in long-term, and winning hearts and minds over to ensuring we never let this happen in our country again.  

If you’d like to be part of creating that change, you can find out more here