Charitable Giving

“SMV's purpose, helping communities to thrive, recognises the great work being done by individuals and communities themselves to overcome disadvantage. We purposefully direct our charitable giving to encourage and help sustain this work by making grants to groups and organisations that are responding directly to the needs of their community.”

Robert Bourns DL, Chair of SMV Charity Committee

The Society of Merchant Venturers Charity

In addition to our commitment to supporting education, care for older people and social enterprise, SMV has a tradition of supporting a broad range of local causes that benefit Greater Bristol. We also manage numerous trusts and funds on behalf of other charitable organisations.

Our members contribute to the Society of Merchant Venturers Charity, which is administered by the Charity Sub-Committee. The members of this committee meet four times a year, typically in January, April, July and October, to consider applications for funding. Grants awarded are usually between £500 and £5,000.

The primary areas supported are social needs; youth; education; environment; social enterprise; health care; culture and the arts; and projects that will benefit Greater Bristol and its economic development.

If you’d like to know more about the grant application process, including the application criteria, please click here. To download an application form, please click here.

The next application deadline is:
– 5pm on Thursday 29 August 2024 for consideration at the September 2024 meeting.

Completed application forms can be emailed to

Click here to find out which organisations we have most recently supported with charitable grants.

Click here to view our Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2022.

SMV provides administrative support to the Edmonds and Coles Scholarships Charity, an education charity that provides grants and scholarships to young people.

The Edmonds and Coles Scholarships Charity makes financial grants, usually between £100 and £1,000 for any educational purpose approved by the charity’s governors. Grants might cover the purchase of books or equipment needed for education or training, or help with travel costs.

For further information, please click here. To download an application form, please click here for individual applicants and here for schools.

In 1708, Edward Colston appointed the Society of Merchant Venturers to manage the Colston’s Hospital Foundation, which went on to become Collegiate School and Montpelier High School and, since then, SMV has managed a number of other trusts. By far the largest is the St Monica Trust endowment fund, currently valued at over £300 million.

Since the end of World War II, part of the St Monica Trust endowment fund has been held in agricultural estates, stocks and shares, which has proven to be a wise investment and provides long-term financial security for the St Monica Trust. The estates, which total around 19,250 acres, are managed by SMV’s Estates and Property Sub-Committee, with professional advice.

By agreement with the Charity Commissioners, the funds of charities too small to be invested separately are held in the Society of Merchant Venturers’ Charity Investment Pool. The funds are managed by finance and investment sub-committees, which take professional advice as appropriate. For a list of managed trusts, please click here.