Gifts and grants

What’s the difference between the CSP Charitable Trust and the members Benevolent Fund. Robert Millett reports.

Members have access to two main sources of funding, each of which meets very differing needs.

The CSP Charitable Trust offers awards to members seeking to pursue clinical research and educational endeavours.

By contrast, the Members Benevolent Fund provides support to members facing financial hardship.

Established in 1980, the Charitable Trust is an independent charity that exists to support physiotherapy research and members’ access to educational opportunities.

It funds physiotherapy research in the UK at a number of levels and aims to increase the evidence base that informs physiotherapy practice.

Trustee and CSP honorary treasurer Sue England explains: ‘Each year the Charitable Trust receives two per cent of the society’s membership subscription income, as well as occasional bequests and legacies from members, member groups and external organisations.

‘These contributions help to fund various grants to members as well as a wide range of initiatives that benefit the profession.’

Annually, the trust allocates about £200,000 in research grants through the Physiotherapy Research Foundation.

This is split between start-up funds of about £20,000 for novice researchers and funding of up to £110,000 for more experienced researchers.

Additionally, in the last five years, extra funding has been made available by CSP Council in the form of a donation.

This is set aside to target a research topic that is deemed to be of particular importance to the profession.

In 2012 the amount awarded in research grants totalled more than £450,000.

Mrs England explains that five years ago trustees decided that the trust could play a more strategic role by making funding available for research in specific areas.

‘The aim is to commission a substantial piece of work each year that will underpin significant clinical research in a strategically important area.’

This year the additional funding was offered as a special research award of £300,000, which was earmarked for a ‘mental and physical health and wellbeing’ project.

This topic was identified by the CSP’s Research Priorities Project.

Educational awards are designed to help individuals travel, lecture and undertake academically-accredited courses, including masters and PhD degrees.

In 2012, educational awards amounting to more than £60,000 were made to 96 individuals.

Other activities include the allocation of £60,000 to fund an e-learning strategy project and to develop a continuing professional development tool.

The creation and distribution of evidence-based clinical information has also been supported, in particular with the continuing development of the Physiotherapy works series.

Additionally, this year the trust has ring-fenced £100,000 to support ‘expanding opportunities’ in the physiotherapy profession.

This will involve demonstrating new service models and educating commissioners about the clinical and cost effectiveness of physiotherapy services.

‘We are looking at developing opportunities in areas that physiotherapists may not have traditionally worked in, such as social care environments,’ says Mrs England.

Further details about the trust are available at the CSP website CSP Charitable Trust (follow the links). For more information about each award scheme, email: or

Members Benevolent Fund

The Members Benevolent Fund (MBF) is a registered charity that is entirely separate from the society and the CSP Charitable Trust.

The benevolent fund is designed to help past and present members who are experiencing financial difficulty through no fault of their own.

This may occur for a variety of reasons, including as a result of accident, serious illness, relationship breakdowns or other traumatic events.

Depending on the circumstances, the fund is able to provide short-term help in the form of one-off financial gifts or, alternatively, by offering regular monthly financial assistance to meet ongoing living costs.

One-off payments may help to meet an unexpected expense or buy vital equipment that is needed to aid independent living.

Meanwhile, long-term support can help with the provision of heating, childcare costs or transport, for example.

It can also enable people to maintain their membership during hard times.

Mrs England says the MBF historically supported older and retired members who were encountering financial difficulties.

However, the demographic of recipients has shifted rapidly in recent years.

‘Last year 50 per cent of the beneficiaries of the fund were under the age of 45,’ says Mrs England. ‘So there had been a dramatic change.’

She adds that the rise in younger people needing help may be a reflection of wider societal changes.

In 2012 the benevolent fund made payments amounting to £89,000 and awarded grants to 65 individuals.  
In order to maintain its service, however, the fund relies solely on investment income and on donations from CSP members.

The CSP provides a lump sum to the fund each year, with its annual donation currently standing at £40,000.

Many individual members are also generous donors and delegates at this year’s Annual Representative Conference raised £1,000 towards the fund.

Physio First, the occupational group for private practitioners, also makes substantial donations to the fund.

Mrs England explains that a collection is held at Physio First’s annual conference, where members are asked to donate the equivalent of their normal fee for a treatment session.

As a result,the organisation regularly donates from £3,000 to £5,000. fl For more information on making donations, visit Members Benevolent fund

How to seek help from the Members Benevolent Fund

  • If you are, or have been, a member, associate member or student member of the society, you ask the MBF for help.
  • Applications are dealt with in complete confidence and details given are not revealed outside the membership of the MBF committee.
  • The criteria for assessing need and eligibility are in line with guidance from the Department of Work and Pensions and UK charity law and, as such, the fund is unable to repay debt.


Robert Millett

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