May 19, 2020

The lowdown on NHS Trust Charities

Every Thursday at 8PM, households around the UK emerge from their front doors to clap for the NHS. As stirring as this show of solidarity and appreciation is, it’s not the only form of support that the British public have given to our health service. Alongside donating food and essential products to frontline workers, they’ve also raised significant funds for local NHS Trusts.  

The efforts of Captain Tom Moore, for instance, have gained worldwide attention; the 100 year-old has raised more than £30 million to date for the NHS. Another example is the ‘Run For Heroes’ campaign which effectively harnessed social media to raise over £5 million. 

With such monumental figures being reached, some may stop and think – is the NHS not funded by the government? The answer is both yes and no. In this post, we’ll outline how our health service receives the money it runs on, and where NHS Trust Charities fit into the picture. 


How is the NHS funded? 

The NHS is primarily funded by taxpayers’ money. According to the latest government budget (2020/21), it’s the second-largest destination of public funds, accounting for £178 billion of the UK’s total budget (£928 billion).

These funds are known as ‘exchequer monies’ – money specifically allocated to the NHS by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Individual NHS Trusts receive their allocation of these funds, and direct them to where they’re needed. Crucially, however, this money can only be used to fulfil what’s known as ‘exchequer functions’ – these are the core services provided by the NHS. 

Any money that’s donated by NHS Trust Charities (more on these down below) cannot be used towards ‘exchequer functions’. The basic idea is that the NHS should not have to rely on donations in order to deliver essential healthcare services. 

What are NHS Trust Charities? 

If the basic functions of the NHS can only be funded through the government, it raises the question (all too common to UK charities) – where do the donations go? 

Before we consider this, however, it’s worth looking at what NHS Trust Charities actually are. 

According to the government, a charitable organisation must fulfil three conditions to be classed as an NHS charity: 

  • It has been established for charitable purposes relating to the NHS 
  • Its trustee arrangements have been established by the Secretary of State for Health under NHS legislation
  • The individuals responsible for ensuring that trustee duties are fulfilled are appointed by the NHS. 

Without getting into the fine detail of the legislation, this basically means that NHS Trust Charities are not independent from the NHS; their trustees are often NHS executives and they have greater freedom to use NHS branding. 

This differs from a ‘League of Friends’ which, whilst supporting many of the same causes of NHS Trust Charities, is independent of the NHS itself. 

Where do the donations go? 

There are more than 230 NHS Charities (grouped under NHS Charities Together) in the UK, and most of them are associated with one particular hospital. You’ve most probably already heard of the more famous ones – The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity are both part of the group. 

Cumulatively, they raise around £1 million each day for the NHS. This money funds a huge range of ‘non-exchequer’ functions – from research into specific illnesses to physical improvements to hospital buildings and technology.


Recently, donations have been used to help NHS staff and patients alike to better deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic. In Leicestershire, for instance, donations have been used to set up ‘Wobble Rooms’ for NHS staff; these are quiet spaces enhanced with various well-being and de-stressing products where staff can retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. 

Elsewhere, donations have been used to ensure that regular hospital appointments are minimised to prevent the spread of the disease. The Oxford Hospitals Charity, for example, has purchased and distributed specialist equipment to young people with cystic fibrosis so that they can undertake regular tests at home that would otherwise be done in hospital. 

In short, donations to NHS Trust Charities effectively go towards improving the overall delivery of health services by the NHS. Whilst they don’t fund the ‘exchequer functions’ of hospitals, they do significantly enhance almost everything that’s offered to the public. 

How GoodBox can help 

The work of the NHS Charities has never been more important. As the country grapples with the realities of living through a pandemic, these organisations have been toiling relentlessly to raise funds to meet new and evolving challenges encountered by the NHS. To date, over £100 million has been raised by groups of NHS volunteers as part of their COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. 

If you’re looking to contribute to this huge fundraising push, then GoodBox can help. Our ‘tap-to-give’ contactless payment terminals can be used to collect donations in a safe, secure, and simple way. Regardless of how you’re looking to raise funds (we have quite a few wacky ideas to get you started), our contactless tech can help you bring in the donations. 


 If you’re interested in seeing what GoodBox has to offer your fundraising efforts, sign up to become a member for free. Membership gives you full access to the GoodBox platform (which usually costs £50), 25% off any rental device ordered before April 2021, and priority access to our data-driven donation reports.


whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London