The art awards scheme for offenders, secure patients and detainees

We’re the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 55 years.

Our awards receive over 7,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work towards positive achievements and transform their lives. Our national exhibition attracts 20,000 visitors – showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings.

We have no endowment or capital – our work depends entirely on donations.

Read more about us

Art Class, HM Prison & Young Offender Institution Parc, James Wood QC Silver Award for Painting, 2017

Donating Dormant Client Account Funds

Unlocking funds, unlocking talent

In 2014, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) increased the limit of unclaimed funds which can be paid to charity without SRA permission from £50 to £500.

Unlocking these funds could make a big difference to the work of the Koestler Trust.

We have created a guide explaining how to donate the funds in dormant client accounts, which can become a burden to law firms, but can easily and productively be disposed of by donating them to the Koestler Trust.

What are dormant funds?

Unclaimed client account balances are sums of money which lie dormant in the client accounts of many firms of solicitors, often untouched for years. Regardless of their age or origin, these residual balances can all be disposed of cost-effectively and permanently.

Is SRA permission required to donate these to charity?

<em>Inside The Prison Library</em>, Staffordshire and West Midlands Community, Rehabilitation Company, First-Time Entrant Award for Portrait, 2017

Inside The Prison Library, Staffordshire and West Midlands Community, Rehabilitation Company, First-Time Entrant Award for Portrait, 2017

The SRA rules that law firms must return money belonging to clients “promptly”, as soon as there is no reason to retain the funds.

Where the rightful owner cannot be traced, rules 20.1 and 20.2 of the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules permit balances under £500 to be paid to charity without SRA permission, providing certain safeguards are met – this includes taking and recording adequate steps to identify and return the funds to the rightful owner. Amounts over £500 can also be paid to charity, providing SRA permission is granted and the charity is prepared to take out indemnity insurance. The Koestler Trust is happy to do this.

Unclaimed client account balances may not be used for any other purpose and become an administrative burden to Finance Managers, who must analyse and explain their existence to auditors annually.

Donating them to the Koestler Trust can help transform lives and build futures.

Recognising your contribution

The Koestler Trust is truly grateful to all firms who choose to support us by donating the sums in their dormant client accounts. On receiving a donation, we will:

  • Send an official certificate of thanks
  • Record your firm’s support on our website, linking back to your site
  • Provide an endorsement logo for use on your website, showing you are supporting the Koestler Trust
  • Invite you to the preview of our national exhibition


For more information, please download our guide to donating dormant client account funds below. We also have template letters to send to account holders ready to download and fill in details as appropriate.

Download information pack > here

Download template letter A to account owner > here

Download template letter B with information about the Koestler Trust > here



Without the Koestler Trust I would have had nothing in prison to show me that I can change, and that I could make a new future for myself. Hearing people say positive things about my work is a new experience and drives me to keep trying.

Koestler Awards entrant, 2018