About us

Edward Stephen Harkness founded The Pilgrim Trust in 1930 with an endowment of just over £2 million.


Inspired by the role Great Britain played in the First World War, Harkness wished the funds to be used for some of the UK’s ‘more urgent needs’. Such a brief would be unusual today but over the years it has given the Trustees the flexibility to fund charities that address such ‘urgent needs’ or the UK’s future wellbeing. Currently the Pilgrim Trust has two grant-making programmes that focus on preserving the UK’s heritage and catalysing social change through which it awards grants of circa £3 million a year.


Our Preservation and Scholarship fund aims to preserve the fabric of historically important buildings and to conserve significant collections and artefacts. We want present and future generations to enjoy the rich and diverse heritage found throughout the UK. Find out more here.

Our Social Change fund aims to support the life chances and wellbeing of vulnerable people in the UK. After a strategic review in 2020, we have announced our new funding programme: Young Women and Mental Health PLUS. The programme aims to help improve the mental health of young women (16-25) in the UK through increasing their access to high quality, age and gender specific mental health services.


Photograph with kind permission of The National Trust