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The charity making life better by water

Philanthropy and major gifts

This vital funding enables us to embark on new projects, using our waterways and museums as unique spaces that make a difference to people’s lives.

A boater passing through a canal lock in Sowerby Bridge

Major giving helps us to achieve much more so that an increasing number of people can get out there and enjoy all that the waterways have to offer. From education and arts initiatives to projects bringing communities together to enhance heritage sites and protect their local environment.

You can help us to care for our historic waterways by making a donation as an invidual or through your charitable trust or foundation. You can choose to support our overall work with an unrestricted grant, which will enable us to protect and care for our iconic waterways or you can support a particular project, location or theme.

Our environment: protecting biodiversity, tackling pollution and the climate crisis

Volunteers planting on Oxbow Island on the River Lee

Our waterways provide vital habitat corridors that connect wildlife in urban and rural areas and we also have 68 nationally protected 'Sites of Special Scientific Interest' (SSSIs).

Our environmental work includes planting and maintaining our towpath hedgerows, trees and plants to provide food and shelter for birds, water voles, fish and otters. Our towpaths also provide healthy alternative travel routes and we are committed to reducing the amount of litter and plastic that is finding its way into our oceans.

A gift towards greening our waterways will help to protect the planet and preserve nature and beauty on our doorsteps.

Our heritage: saving heritage at risk

Side view of the Anderton Boat Lift on the River Weaver

Our canals are home to almost 3,000 listed structures as well as 46 ancient monuments and 4 UNESCO world heritage sites, ranging from milestones and lock gates to historic bridges. tunnels and buildings and even a Victorian boat lift.

We also have a number of museums and visitor attractions that tell the story of Britain's canals throughout the ages, including our nationally accredited National Waterways Museum.

Your gift could support a particular heritage asset, helping us to preserve our unique waterways heritage for future generations.

Our schools work: inspiring young people

School children at Cambrian Wharf

Our 200-year-old waterway network has some remarkable feats of engineering, that demonstrate how science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects can apply to the world around us.

We are actively working with a range of schools in urban areas close to a canal to offer exciting and innovative practical learning for both primary and secondary school pupils.

Our arts offering: connecting communities

Sculpture "The Hatchling" by Joanna Rajkowska

It is proven that the arts have a powerful and lasting effect on people's wellbeing, bringing a sense of joy and connection.

Our linear network of canals lends itself very well to a wide range of community arts projects, including a national trail of waterway art, floating libraries, dance, poetry and music.

Our promise to you

Your gift will truly make a transformational difference to our work. It will help us to protect our waterways and their wonderful heritage for the future, and enrich the lives of the many people who visit them.

In turn we promise to:

  • ensure your gift is allocated according to your wishes
  • allocate a dedicated member of our team to support you in your work with us
  • invite you to experience, first hand, the work you are supporting so you can see what a real difference you make
  • regularly report on the impact of your support
  • provide the opportunity to connect with our senior leadership team
  • invite you to exclusive events to connect with other, like-minded supporters
  • ensure your experience of partnering with the Canal & River Trust is a wholly positive one
Canal & River Trust ecologist planting floating reedbed on the towpath

Trusts and Foundations that have previously supported us, or are current donors include:

Waterloo Foundation supported our Unlocking the Severn Programme fish pass work over three years.

Wolfson Foundation supported the preservation and repurposing of our iconic Roundhouse building in Birmingham, as well as work at our National Waterways Museum.

Garfield Weston Foundation has previously supported projects at our National Waterways Museum.

Ways to contact us:

Our Trusts and Grants team is available from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Please contact:
Lydia Burns - [email protected] and 07947 668924

Last Edited: 01 March 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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