Our approach to funding
We like to invest in those who have great ideas and methods for improving the health and well-being of older people and in making the connections which can help them to flourish.
We do this through both grant-making and social investment and through convening networks of support like the DMT Academy.
We provide a range of grant-making support within the context of our strategic themes:
- to encourage leading investigators from all relevant disciplines to undertake work on ageing.
- to organisations that can demonstrate leadership in and a long-term commitment to ageing-related research.
- that delivers excellence in doctoral researcher training in ageing-related research.
- for post-doctoral academics and research-active health and social care professionals so that trained PhD level researchers in ageing are not lost to other disciplines
- for developing clear pathways to impact and engagement with community-led organisations.
We are particularly interested in exploring how we might encourage and facilitate academic and clinical researchers to work across organisational boundaries, explore alternative career paths and to work with community-led organisations.
Through the UK Ageing Research Funders’ Forum and the DMT Academy, we convene networking events and support meetings of specialists of varied disciplines and professions to scope the future of, and priorities for, ageing-related research and practice and foster the collaborations that will tackle the challenges of delivering our strategic goals to improve health in later life.
Support and resources
We know that if systemic change in the health and social care of older people is to be achieved in the long term, we need to invest in creating sustained capacity in our research base and supporting those who are working hard to ensure that the services they provide are evidence-led.
Academic and clinical researchers
We like to identify the important, but perhaps less well-funded, areas of research and back well-designed work which is imaginative, novel and acknowledges that the complexity of the issues involved often need multi-disciplinary approaches if they are to have real and positive impact. We provide a range of funding mechanisms and support a number of networks focused on ensuring that the outcomes of your work are shared and turned into practical benefit in improving the health and social care of older people.
We are a signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and explore as part of our application process how supervisors and research institutions support early career researchers (ECRs). We also want you to have clear ideas and plans to ensure that your work has real impact and that you are engaged with older people and will provide funding support for you to do so.
Our support is organised around five key principles:
Involvement and engagement
We expect older people’s views to be considered and, at a minimum, for the researchers we support to be actively involved in public engagement activities. No matter how “cutting edge” or complex the research, the ultimate beneficiary can offer unique and valuable insights in its design, implementation, communication, future prioritisation or evaluation.
Making connections, convening networks
We know we can promote innovation and contribute to making a real difference by connecting researchers from different disciplines with each other and with those working in professional practice and the community.
Many of the problems we are trying to understand and address require examination from a variety of perspectives and the input of multiple stakeholders if they are to work and lead to practical benefit. Good and effective collaboration does not come without challenges but is essential if multi-dimensional problems are to be solved.
Equality and diversity
It is important to access and nurture the best talent and equality and diversity are integral to driving innovation and opportunity and to achieving excellence in research. We prefer to work with organisations and teams which are committed to nurturing equal and diverse cultures.
While we have set out our overall strategic framework and will plan the deployment of our resources around our published priorities, from time to time, issues will arise which will require an agile and speedy response.
Resources for researchers
For more information, go to DMT Academy.
This is an inclusive body of researchers from across the range of disciplines and professions, and research-ready community organisations. The more who join, the more useful it will be.
Who can join?
- Current, former and prospective DMT academic and clinical research award-holders and applicants.
- Members of the UKRI-funded ageing across the lifecourse interdisciplinary research networks and relevant membership bodies such as the British Geriatrics Society and the British Society of Gerontology.
The Trust is a signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.
As such, we publish a Funder Action Plan which is based on the defining principles of the Concordat: environment and culture, employment, and professional and career development. For each of the outlined Funder commitments, it describes the current situation, including policies the Trust already has in place, as well as the changes the Trust intends to make. It will be kept under review by the Research Grants Committee on behalf of the Trustees.
All of our Research Training Fellows, including those held jointly with our partners, and those supported by the PhD Studentship Fund are automatically invited to join our growing network of those who have chosen to develop a career in ageing-related research. Those appointed as research assistants on any of our Research Programme Grants may also join.
We hold at least one event each year, which is a great opportunity to get together and share experiences with other fellows who are at a similar career stage, and can facilitate virtual networking also.
To add yourself to the ECR mailing list, enter your details here:
Diversity is essential for excellence and increases the capacity to develop, innovate and grow. In respect of our research funding portfolio, we are committed to ensuring that the best researchers from a diverse population are attracted into research careers and supporting development of those careers. Therefore, we do expect applications to demonstrate credible and feasible plans to support the development of professional research careers in our areas of interest. Applications should include tangible examples of support to be given (e.g. training, mentoring etc.). It is also important to describe any wider institutional frameworks and support, which support researchers.
Athena SWAN: The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU)’s Athena SWAN award is a national charter mark that recognises the achievement of gender equality in higher education, encompassing representation, progression and success for all. It was originally established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, maths and medicine in higher education and research. In 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. Members who sign up to the charter are expected to apply for an Athena SWAN award, at Bronze, Silver or Gold level.
Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers: An agreement between funders and employers of research staff to improve the employment and support for researchers and research careers in UK higher education. It sets out clear standards that research staff can expect from the institution that employs them, as well as their responsibilities as researchers.
NHS England has published a good practice guide for engaging with under-represented groups to increase diversity in research participation. You can find it here.
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has developed an ethical toolkit, in the form of a series of prompts and questions, as a practical means for translating the ethical values and principles that the group argues should underlie ageing-related research and innovation. The aim of the framework is to help all those concerned with the development, conduct, and implementation of research relating to living well in older age to think through the ethical implications of their work.
For the full report, together with an interactive ethical framework and toolkit, which includes additional prompts and questions for both researchers/research teams and practitioners who work with older adults, go to the Nuffield Council’s website.
The Dunhill Medical Trust is an endorsed funder under the Government’s Global Talent Visa scheme.
An endorsed funder is an organisation accepted by UK Research and Innovation as a prestigious funder of research and innovation. Each funder has an excellent track record of awarding funding to researchers with critical skills, following a rigorous peer review process.
You can read more about whether you may be eligible and how to apply on the government’s website.
You will see in the guidance that amongst the documents you need to provide is confirmation of your grant or award. For some large funders, these will be made available via one of their databases, however, for smaller funders like the Dunhill Medical Trust, you must ask us for a letter of confirmation. Please email either your named grants officer or [email protected].
As a charitable funder, it’s important to us that we can show that we are making progress towards achieving our charitable objectives: that we are making a difference/having impact, so a well-articulated and credible ‘pathway to impact’ remains an important part of an application to us. We recommend that you consider your impact plan early in your preparation, so that it informs the design of your research.
Impact from research can take many forms, including enhancing quality of life and health, influencing policy and practice, translating research into new products and services etc. Writing a ‘pathway to impact’ encourages you to think about what can be done and the stakeholders that need to be involved, from the outset, to ensure your research makes a difference. It also helps you articulate why your research is important and helps you to identify who could potentially benefit from your project, who could help you and what you can do to support this happening. You should avoid using generic statements and provide a credible impact plan, including specific examples of actions you will be taking to achieve the impacts described and the time-frame in which these are likely to occur.
Research Councils UK defines impact in the following ways:
- Academic impact: the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to academic advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, methods, theory and application.
- Economic and societal impacts: the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. Economic and societal impacts embrace all the extremely diverse ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations by:
- fostering global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the UK,
- increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy,
- enhancing quality of life, health and creative output.
Public engagement may be included as one element of your ‘pathway to impact’ – but this is not impact in itself. Engaging the public with your research can improve the quality of research and its impact, raise your profile, and develop your skills.
Public involvement in research is defined as research that is done with or by the public and not to, about or for them. When we talk about ‘involvement’ we mean getting actively involved in the research process itself rather than being participants or subjects of the research.
Public engagement is where information and knowledge about research is provided and shared. Examples of engagement include:
- an open day at a research centre where members of the public are invited to find out about research
- raising awareness of research through media such as television programmes, newspapers and social media
- sharing the findings of a study to research participants, colleagues or members of the public.
The NIHR provides some guidance on “knowledge mobilisation” and costing it into grant proposals.
The research protocol is an essential part of a research project. It is a full description of the research study and can be used to monitor the study’s progress and evaluate its outcomes. There are a number of websites providing guidance for preparing research protocols, depending on the study type.
SPIRIT (Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for International Trials): provides evidence-based recommendations for the minimum content of a clinical trial protocol. SPIRIT is widely endorsed as an international standard for trial protocols.
PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses): PRISMA is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. PRISMA focuses on the reporting of reviews evaluating randomised trials, but can also be used as a basis for reporting systematic reviews of other types of research, particularly evaluations of interventions. Protocol guidance can be found here.
NHS Health Research Authority: provide guidance and templates for preparing research protocols for qualitative research and Clinical Trials of an Investigational Medicinal Product (CTIMP). There are also a number of other resources available to help with planning your research project.
NIHR Research Design Service (RDS): supports researchers to develop high quality research proposals for submission to national funders for applied health or social care research and NIHR funding programmes. There are regional RDS centres across England where advisers offer free and confidential advice for researchers, to help with several aspects of an application, including identifying and refining the research question and research methods (qualitative and quantitative).
Tips on how to write a good peer review
We are very grateful for the time and consideration peer reviewers give applications we are assessing. It helps our Research Grants Committee in their assessment, ultimately leading to recommendations to our Board of Trustees regarding whether to fund an application or not.
We have collated some tips to help peer reviewers when completing their review:
Conflict of interest
If there are any potential conflicts of interest, please contact the Dunhill office before agreeing to review the proposal.
Examples of a conflict of interest include:
- Employed by the same institution as the applicant(s)
- Actively involved in research collaborations with the applicants(s)
- Working closely with the applicant(s), for example as a co-author or PhD Supervisor, or has worked closely in the last 4 years
- Holding a current position on the governing body of or an honorary position within the institution(s) of the applicant(s)
- In receipt of personal remuneration from one of the applicants’ employer or organisation where they are based
- Personal/family relationship with the applicant(s)
If it is decided that you do not have a conflict of interest, but you would like to declare that you worked with the applicant 10 years ago, for example, then please detail this at the bottom of the form.
Read our Peer Review guidelines
After you have agreed to review an application, we will send you our peer review guidelines. This provides you with guidance on how to navigate our online grants management portal and our scoring rubric. If you are not clear on how to complete your review or view the application or supporting documents, please contact the DMT office for assistance.
Don’t make it personal
Try to keep your review strictly professional, not personal. Bear in mind that, if you opt to, your comments will be fed back to the applicant. In order to remain anonymous, it’s important to avoid including anything in your assessment that will identify you personally. This includes making references to your own work, where you have worked or who you have worked with.
Be clear and concise
Use clear, accessible language and avoid jargon – not everybody reading your comments will be a specialist in the field. There is also no need to reiterate the content of the proposal or re-state the assessment questions, as the proposal will be read carefully by panel members.
Point out strengths and weaknesses
If you find a flaw, explain the implications: do they invalidate a single result, or make a significant portion of the grant impractical? Is it fatally flawed? If so, please say why. Distinguish between major and minor issues. Can you identify what could be done better? Are you familiar with an alternative, more suitable approach? Be clear about the severity of the flaw and tell us the strengths and weakness of the project. Give us the evidence for your views.
The proposal should contain everything you need to be able to formulate an opinion. Consider the following questions: Do the abstract and introduction clearly identify the need for this research, and its relevance? Are the hypotheses, aims and objectives clear? Is the methodology and experimental design clearly set out and justified? Does the methodology target the main question(s) appropriately? Is the work programme feasible? Are there any ethical issues? Are the researchers up to the job? Do they have the right team, experience and infrastructure? Are they leading the way in their field? Does it look like good value for money?
The Trust is keen to support early career researchers as lead applicants. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to the Trust if this is the applicant’s first significant grant, but what is important to the Trust is that they have a strong and supportive team around them and the infrastructure the project needs to succeed.
Praise good grants
If it’s a really good proposal, then say so and tell us why. Sometimes we get short reviews that simply say the grant is great (or not) which isn’t much help! The panel members might not know that a particular group have the necessary expertise to answer the research question posed, or that the question is absolutely pivotal at this point in time or that the proposed methodology is the most appropriate.
Match scores to comments
We sometimes see, what appears to be, quite damning criticism with a high score, which is confusing! Therefore, please therefore read the rubric and make sure your comments match your score. If your comments relate to aspects of the proposal that aren’t critical to the success of the project, make this clear.
Make it useful
Remember that, with your permission, your comments will be fed back anonymously to rejected applicants and if appropriate, successful applicants.
For unsuccessful applicants, peer review comments are vital to understanding:
- why their application wasn’t supported
- how they can improve any future applications.
Be aware of unconscious bias
We all have biases, what are yours? Be aware of them and consider the proposal objectively. Think about it outside of the context of your own field of research.
Ensure that your review is constructive and helpful and not unnecessarily mean or offensive. Sometimes it is necessary to submit a harsh review if an application is fatally flawed, but never a rude one. Remember to adhere to the ‘golden rule’ of peer reviewing (M. A. McPeek, et al. Am. Naturalist 173, E155–E158; 2009): “review for others as you would have others review for you”.
Give it time
Finally, give yourself time to read the proposal thoroughly before writing and submitting your review. We try to ensure you have at least a month to review the application and we will send a reminder a week before the review is due.
We aim to inform and influence the collective understanding of “what works” and work with community-facing organisations who wish to develop innovative, evidence-informed and best practice ways of delivering care and support for older people.
We will be focusing our resources during this plan period on just two or three programmes which have the potential for demonstrating good practice, contributing to achieving systemic change and developing an evidence base. We will also set about building our social investment portfolio and will consider social investment opportunities which are wholly or substantially aligned with our mission.
Research-ready community-facing organisations are welcome to join the DMT Academy.
We want to:
Develop innovative, cross-sector partnerships which are, or have the potential to be, transformational for the organisation or sector or transformational for the understanding of the subject matter. This may involve traditional grant funding models but also more innovative forms of finance – see also our Impact Investment Policy.
Support evidence-led, people-centred community programmes which make full use of the range of community assets – in particular, those which create age-friendly environments, connect older people to the wider community and enable them to stay in their own homes for longer.
Resources for community organisations
Charitable organisations are under increasing scrutiny from the public and funding bodies to demonstrate their impact and be accountable for their activities. Measuring and reporting on impact allows charities to better articulate the difference they are making to their beneficiaries and provides an evidence-base to help external stakeholders engage with and understand their work.
Good impact practice also supports staff and trustees in being more results-driven and allows for more effective strategic planning when working towards their vision. Understanding the impact of an activity/project highlights what your organisation is doing well and what it can improve upon. This allows for more effective allocation of limited resources in future activities. Therefore good impact practice fosters an organisational culture which supports constant evaluation and improvement, inspiring staff and trustees to work towards maximising their impact.
The products, services or facilities that result from an organisation’s or product’s activities
The changes, benefits, learning or other effects that result from what the project or organisation makes, offers or provides
The broader or longer-term effects of a project’s or organisation’s outputs, outcomes and activities
For more information go to DMT Academy
Who can join?
Research-ready* community organisations working with older people.
* Community-led organisations which have previously been, or are currently, a co-applicant on a DMT-funded research grant, OR have a place on the DMT Capability Development Programme OR have an internally funded staff member with a research remit. Community organisations which are care homes must also have successfully joined the NIHR run Enabling Research in Care Homes (ENRICH) initiative and Research Ready Care Home Network.
It is never too early to start thinking about impact. Here at the Trust we are dedicated to improving impact practice, and therefore we will consider providing extra funding as part of a grant to help support organisations measure and report on impact.
We understand that the activities and projects we support are very broad-ranging and so it’s an impossible job to prescribe how organisations should report impact. Nesta has developed a Standards of Evidence Framework which may be useful as a starting point for organisations to think about their impact measurement and how they can generate evidence of impact that is appropriate for their organisation.
Once you have decided the types of evidence your organisation can collect, you can check out some of the various tools and methods by clicking on the box on the right – there are lots of other methods, but these are a starting point to give you some ideas. Also, this guide by Performance Hub is a useful starting point for starting to think about how you identify and use ‘indicators’ that assess the activities of your organisation and hence its impact.
This guide by What Works Wellbeing gives specific advice on how to measure your organisation’s impact, specifically on well being, by offering guidance on how to build a useful question set and on how you can analyse your results in a meaningful way.
In order to maximise the impact that your organisation can make it is essential that you have a plan in place for building its resilience and sustainability. This is particularly important for charitable organisations as they often face unpredictable external environments and need to be able to adapt to a changing social, political and economic backdrop, so that they can secure funding streams and continue delivering services to beneficiaries.
These top ten tips by The Kings Fund provide some guidance to charity leaders about how they can build resilience and sustainability, and provide a useful starting point for supporting and developing successful leadership in the charity sector.
A challenge for many charities is to recover the full cost of the services they deliver. Many draw a distinction between what they call core costs and project costs. However, by core, they’re often referring to the costs of delivering a core service, rather than the overhead, or fixed running costs, of their charity. So, if they’re applying for a project grant, they apply only for the direct costs involved in delivering it and don’t request full cost recovery (this includes an allowance for the overheads of running the organisation), so they won’t receive a contribution to their ongoing running costs.
Funders can be equally guilty of saying they “won’t fund core costs” when what they mean is that they are not in a position to make ongoing donations for unrestricted purposes to an organisation but WILL support specific projects to pilot a service or scale up activities, for example, and recognise that there are overheads involved in doing so and are prepared to contribute.
If this sounds confusing, read on. If not, congratulations, you’ve obviously been knee-deep in an Excel spreadsheet at some point or taken the course in accountant-speak…
With the tough operating environment charities find themselves in, how can they become more sustainable, have greater impact for beneficiaries, and manage the huge demand that exists for their services?
Barclays and Bayes Business School Centre for Charity Effectiveness (Bayes CCE) wanted to foster deeper, more insightful conversations around the key issues facing the sector. They wanted to really explore the issues in order to provide useful lessons for the future.
This led to the Charity Learning Series, set around six working lunch events across the UK. These conversations examined key topics that senior leaders in the charities sector identified as important to them through a poll at Barclays National Charities Day. Facilitated by industry experts with a passion for their own particular subject areas, these events allowed participants to really debate the key issues for the sector, with time to think and have nuanced conversations. This report is a result of those conversations on the six key topics identified:
- risk appetite,
- innovation and scalability.
Download the full report here. Each of the key topics is examined in turn and finishes with some key questions for charity leaders and trustees to ask themselves.
The NHS five year forward view outlines a commitment to developing stronger partnerships with VCSE organisations as part of a ‘new relationship with patients and communities’, in many areas commissioners are not prioritising these relationships. Ever wondered what the commissioner’s perspective is on your services? Check out this report, commissioned by the Department of Health from the King’s Fund for some useful insights.
While we always include a full list of our grants in our Annual Reports and announce our lists of new awards via our News blog and social media, we also publish summary details of our grants for community-based organisations via 360Giving. This is an initiative that aims to help UK funders publish their data in an open and standard format online. You can search for our grants and others like them on GrantNav.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. View a copy of this license.
This means the data is freely accessible to anyone to be used and shared as they so wish. The data must be attributed to the Dunhill Medical Trust.
We will consider a range of financial structures for our social investments, ranging from low-interest repayable loans to equity stakes.
We will consider:
- Direct investment in a charity or social enterprise which is wholly or substantially aligned with our mission.
- Investment in a fund managed by another organisation, where the purpose of such a fund and its underlying businesses aligns wholly or substantially with the Trust’s objectives. In this way, we can pool risk and spread it across several different investments. The managing organisation can also provide expertise in assessing and managing the financial and operational risks of the projects they support.
- Investment to support the Trust’s strategic priorities for community-organisations. For example, investment in a reputable delivery organisation with national reach which is able to support smaller, locally-based community organisations.