a group of people work around a table


Are you making grants for the first time?

Or are you looking for help with a major strategy review?

Or are you looking to improve your grantmaking services and systems?

We're here to help.​

We offer a range of grantmaking consultancy services

Whether you’re writing a grantmaking strategy for the first time, or updating an old strategy that’s served its purpose, we can help.

Unlike some non-specialist strategy consultants we won’t ‘write the strategy for you’ – instead we’ll guide you through the process, sharing the burden and helping you to develop the skills to run future strategy processes in-house. 

We have deep experience in helping oversee and guide strategy reviews, from quick and informal to more intensive processes lasting several months.In our book we devoted an entire chapter to funder strategy reviews. We’re here to help you foresee the challenges that will arise, and to help you overcome them successfully.

Whether you are looking to improve one area of your skills as a grantmaker, or whether you want support for whatever surprises grantmaking life throws up, we can tailor a coaching offer around your needs.

Our coaching can be online or in person, and entails regular conversations over a period of months to listen to your challenges, and offer information, advice and guidance tailored to your specific needs. The topics can be pre-agreed in advance, or focus on whatever challenge you are facing on the day that we speak.

During these coaching sessions we will listen to your perspectives on key opportunities and challenges. We will then provide both practical advice (‘try this’) and constructive challenge (‘how will you handle that?’) in a safe, friendly, confidential environment.

Virtually every funder launches new funding programmes from time to time. It can be difficult to successfully design these so that they reflect your own values, meet your own impact goals and meet the needs of prospective grantees.

We have considerable experience of designing funding programmes that we previously ran ourselves, and helping others to design funding programmes as clients. Our specialism is helping you to balance all your values and ambitions while still delivering a programme that is practical to administer. We do this through bringing the latest design techniques that help keep complex programmes focused on the needs of people, communities and the environment.

Every grantmaking organisation has systems and processes that let it make grants. This can be as simple as a single individual with a chequebook and a pen, through to a complex digital system with many users.

We can help you to review what’s working well (and not so well) in your own grantmaking systems. We bring extensive experience of building and rebuilding grantmaking systems, and of designing funding programmes that work. We are very familiar with both the technological and the human sides of such systems.

We listen carefully and respectfully, and provide useful, appropriate next steps to help your organisation create better, smoother, more equitable systems.

Funding organisations often face tricky choices – especially in board and trustee meetings – with multiple stakeholders encouraging them to pursue different goals in different ways. This means that key decision-making meetings can be sensitive and sometimes prone to avoiding tough choices.

We specialise in helping groups of people – whether staff or board members – discuss, analyse and ultimately make clear decisions on difficult choices.

Our facilitation can help your key decision-makers to agree whether to fund specific projects, as well as tough strategic questions like whether a foundation should decide to spend-down or not, or whether to move an endowment to a new more socially and environmentally beneficial investment.

We can help groups and individuals who are right at the start of setting up new philanthropic foundations. We are familiar with a wide-range of issues relating to the governance, structure and purpose of foundations, and we can provide support from the first “What should I do?” questions through to challenges like incorporating legal vehicles and hiring dedicated foundation team members.

So if you’re thinking of starting something new, and want to make sure you avoid some of the mistakes that challenge other funders, we’d love to talk.

Funding organisations are only as good as the people who work or volunteer within them. Getting the right people is critical but not always easy.

We bring extensive experience of hiring over a hundred people into grantmaking institutions. Our book also contains advice from numerous other grantmakers we interviewed, and we can bring this together to better support you.

Whether you are hiring for chair of the board, for a junior role, or building an entirely new team, we can help  make sure you hire for the right values, skills and experience, while living up to your own equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

If you want someone to run a grantmaking programme for you, including all the administration, we can provide this too. We are happy to not just help design programmes but also deliver them, writing rules and criteria, building systems and then using those systems to accept and process grant proposals.

Case studies

We know that it can be helpful to hear specific stories about how we have helped funders. Here are three case studies that show what we can do, and what it is like to work with us.

Testimonials from our clients

"Gemma and Tom’s book has been widely read across the organisation, and there was a lot of excitement at the chance of being able to benefit from their expertise, insight and common sense. What we particularly appreciated was their strategic insight into different grantmaking approaches which was coupled with their understanding of our particular context. I am personally very grateful for the professionalism and sensitivity which they showed in developing and running high-quality, engaging workshops."
Anand Shukla
Chief Executive, The Henry Smith Charity
"Gemma and Tom bring both grantmaking experience and coaching skills to bear in their support. They provide practical advice and suggestions for creating and implementing strategies but also the time and space to allow you to identify the right option for your context. They are then very helpful in thinking through how to put these into practice."
Jenny North
Foundation Director, The Clothworkers' Foundation
"Gemma and Tom provided clear insights into our grantmaking practices. They listened carefully to what we do and left us with practical, implementable next steps. I’d highly recommend them to anyone trying to become a better, kinder, modern grant-giving organisation."
Stefan Magdalinski
Senior Fellow, Filecoin Foundation
“Gemma’s and Tom’s bespoke workshop to our grant-making executives was excellent and feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. The morning was engaging, interactive, practical, and good fun. Gemma and Tom guided and helped us throughout, encouraging everyone to participate."
Helen McLeod, Fund Executive, Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts
"Gemma and Tom are an invaluable team for grantmakers’ professional development. My team raved about having a training workshop with them, urging that the opportunity to learn from Modern Grantmaking should be available more broadly in the organisation. Their approach blends values and principles with practical insights and experience - the perfect combination."
Swee Leng Harris
Director Litigation, Luminate
"Gemma and Tom are delightful to work with; they’re knowledgeable and thoughtful in their approach to designing and implementing workshops. Our board had nothing but praise for the modern-granting workshop, and it’s given us a lot of discussion points to advance and improve our approach to grant-making."
Rebecca Levy
Foundation Director, Spectris Foundation
Our People

Meet the team

Gemma Bull a blonde white woman in her late thirties
Gemma Bull
Gemma was Funding Strategy Director for the UK's largest community funder, which awards £600 million annually. Her responsibilities included leading hundreds of people and driving a redesign of the whole organisation’s grantmaking. Previously she was a Managing Director at Leonard Cheshire Disability and Head of Innovation at Save the Children. She now specialises in supporting organisations to innovate, improve and collaborate.
Tom Steinberg, a balding white man in his 40s, with glasses
Tom Steinberg
Tom is a nonprofit CEO turned grantmaker. He founded civic tech pioneers mySociety and worked at the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit before leading digital transformation at two of the UK’s largest institutional funders. Tom is an Ashoka Fellow, the co-director of an education project based at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a board member at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.