This page introduces the Alternative Guide as a resource for universities to invest in as a resource for students- perhaps via the Graduate School, Research Office, Funding Office, Careers Service, etc. Many universities already invest in this manner. We also do workshops!
So what is the Alternative Guide? Why should we invest in it for our students?
How universities can best support current and prospective students with postgraduate funding is an old problem. In some respects, times are changing with the introduction of the new loans system this academic year (£10,000 for most Masters students, and a £25,000 PhD loan on the way for 2018-19). But huge challenges remain. Even home students who do take out the full loan will have, at best, a few thousand pounds left to pay for maintanence and other study costs. It also seems likely that the availability of this money will encourage more students to study, increasing the number of students needing this top-up funding. Only a tiny proportion of students gain full schoalrships, or are rich enough to fund their courses entirely by independent means. Whether it is to 'top up' an existing funding package, or to pay for a whole course, demand never been greater for an alternative source of postgraduate funding.
The Alternative Guide is all about one hugely underrated funder: the voluntary sector. The UK's thousands of charities, foundations, and trusts represent a major and largely untapped funding resource. Until recently, only a tiny minority of postgraduates even considered applying to charity. The Alternative Guide is changing this. It is the first and only resource that deals with postgraduate funding from charity. As students, we (the authors) raised over £50,000 from over 50 charity awards, and the Alternative Guide shares all our inside guidance and advice. This web resource also provides invaluable interactive tools to streamline and demystify the application process, as well as a database of over 800 alternative grant-making bodies, with more added each month. The Guide's integrated approach takes a student through each stage of the funding workflow: from identifying, to finding, to approaching, to crafting winning applications.
If you would like to encourage more of your current and prospective students to apply to charity, and vastly improve their chances of success, then consider joining the 90 universities who have already invested in the Alternative Guide.
Charities and Trusts: An underrated, but vital funding resource
The voluntary sector in the UK gives out billions each year for various charitable causes. The reason this huge pool of money has hitherto been so poorly utilised by students is because much of it is obscure ‘old money’ tied up in trust funds, and not previously listed online. Before the first publication of the Alternative Guide seven years ago, no advisory literature even existed for students.
Charities are very different from public funders. They often make awards based on where an applicant lives, his/her family background, nationality, gender, and subject of study. Mostly though, they are interested in a student's 'story'- whether his or her course can help realise life goals and ambitions, and benefit society in some way. They also operate differently– there are often several deadlines a year, and they make decisions within as little as a few weeks. Awards are usually £500-£2,000, but you can win many. Our lead author won over 40!
These major differences mean the approach and presentation of charity applications needs to be entirely different from ‘conventional’ funding applications. It is this specialist guidance that makes the Alternative Guide both unique and vital- and much more than just a database or finding tool.
Do we really need it?
Universities sometimes reasonably assume existing resources already deal adequately with postgraduate funding from charity. We beg to disagree. While other academic funding databases (like ResearchProfessional) exist, they are overwhelmingly for postdoctoral users, and in any case concentrate on heavily-mined sources of funding such as learned societies and public bodies. Postgraduatefunding.com has similar drawbacks, and many grants it lists are those administered by specific universities, and thus unusable to students who do not attend them. Such resources almost entirely overlook the more obscure world of charities and trusts, not to mention innovative new appooaches (principally Crowdfunding) which we also cover extensively. Perhaps most crucially, they are just databases without any accompanying guidance. The Alternative Guide isn't just a finding tool- it's a highly effective winning methodology written and used by real students.
The Alternative Guide has achieved its 90 university subscribers in the seven years it has been around precisely because it is so unique, and deals with overlooked charity funders. We are proud that we are a grassroots publication, packed with hard-won tips and strategies that have been extensively road-tested by students. We have recently published a Student Story Archive on our website where students share their own unique fundraising stories, and how they gained support from charities they had not previously known even existed.
The database of nearly 1,000 charities in the Alternative Guide Online - updated each month - is the product of many months of research, and (in many cases) first hand contact with charities. This database alone could easily be worth tens of thousands of pounds to your current and prospective postgraduate students.
Evaluate the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding!
Interested in evaluating the Guide? Please get in touch (via our form or by emailing
) and ask us for a free sample pack and login details! Alternatively, just phone our London office on 0208 677 6900!