When it comes to funding your project, it’s important to identify the right sources that align with your goals. This guide will walk you through various funding options that may be available, along with practical tips to increase your chances of success. Whether you’re a community group or an organisation, these strategies can help you secure the financial support you need to bring your project to life.
How to get funding for your project
TIP: As well as our guidance below, please check out the national Wildlife Trusts’ guidance on how to apply for funding. You may also be interested in further information about different types of community groups and whether you should become a constituted group.
First, identify an appropriate source for funding for the project you wish to carry out. There are four main sources to consider for local projects:
1. Local authorities
Local authorities have small pots of funding directed by local councillors. They generally pay out a few hundred pounds to projects which meet one of a set of priorities which are specific to each ward, so check first what the priorities for your ward are to ensure you fit.
Sheffield City Council
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
You can also check the local funding advice and support provided by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
2. Non-governmental bodies
The first non-governmental body to consider is the National Lottery. The Awards for All scheme will fund local projects from £300 to £10,000.
The National Lottery are particularly keen on funding organisations who haven’t applied before.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner makes grants to local projects using the proceeds of crime. In certain areas and for some projects, you may be eligible to apply for up to £7500.
If you have a windfarm within 2-3 miles of your project, check the relevant operating company’s website. Many have a community fund as a condition of their being able to operate there and usually have an environmental priority.
3. Company grant schemes
Many companies run small grant schemes as part of their commitment to Corporate Social
Be sure to check your local supermarket as these often have customer-voted schemes:
Sainsbury’s make arrangements at an individual store level, so contact your local store for more information.
You can also find shops which will donate surplus goods to community projects. It’s worth asking the likes of B&Q, for example, to help out with materials for environmental projects.
4. Charitable Trusts and Foundations
There are literally thousands of charitable trusts in the UK. These are often set up by philanthropists or bequests as an efficient way of channeling money to good causes. Some of them are centuries old and still operating (Sheffield Town Trust was established in 1297, for example.)
All charitable trusts are different – they all have their own criteria and priorities. They may grant millions of pounds every year or just a few hundred, they may operate worldwide or specify a defined region, county or even just a village. Some have fancy online application forms, others are a bit more ‘freestyle’ and just require you to make a compelling appeal. Finding the right Trust to apply to is the interesting bit.
Here are a selection of Charitable Trusts and Foundations you may wish to explore:
UK Community Foundations
The 47 Community Foundations across the UK provide local funding by connecting lenders, donors and funders with local causes. Find out more here. This single website will direct you to the Community Foundation in your area.
South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau
The South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau (SYFAB) has a free funding search facility for registered users .
You can also sign up for a newsletter which will inform you of new funders or important changes.
Funding for All
Funding for All is a very useful, searchable website that lists funding opportunities and gives you the closing dates.
If you’re in Rotherham, sign up for Voluntary Action Rotherham’s newsletter which includes a section of funding news which can be useful.
If you register for a free account at Charity Excellence, you can access their weekly updates of funding and use their Grants and Funds Finder. They also have a list of funding opportunities.
Grants Online lists latest funds and funding news.
You could look at My Funding Central – don’t be put off by the subscription it asks for. As long as your turnover is less than £30,000 a year, you won’t have to pay, but you do need to prove it and jump through a few paperwork hoops first. Do note that “turnover” is not the same as “income.” If you receive £30,100 and pay out £30,100 your income is zero but your turnover exceeds the £30,000 limit. It’s really useful for searching and finding small, local pots of money.
Groundwork break down their list of grants by region. They don’t fund directly but can help you find funding.
The Prince’s Trust, while it does not provide funding itself, lists various sources of funding.
The National Citizens’ Network (NCS) with the National Youth Agency provide two types of funding throughout the year for projects that involve youth. They also run drop-in sessions to learn more.
The NFU (National Farmers’ Union) has a Charitable Trust which funds larger initiatives if they will have a significant impact on rural communities and this includes the education of young people in rural areas, and the relief of poverty.
Aviva Community Fund will help projects that enhance community resilience, especially focussing on Climate Action.
If you are working in partnership with a community business at any stage of a community share issue, check out the Community Shares Booster Fund. They can support you from the start with grants of between £2,000 and £10,000 and can also help with loan finance if appropriate. Applications are taken on a rolling basis.
The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) have a charitable trust which will fund projects that help disabled or disadvantaged (their words) people to connect to nature.
There are lots of other funding websites, but many of these charge for their service and won’t be good value if you’re looking for one-off grants.
Important funding application tips
Read the funder’s guidelines (if they exist) carefully, i.e.:
Make sure you are eligible for the funding pot. Some funders will insist you are a registered charity, others are happy to fund all community groups. Some have an upper income limit for applicants. Some funders won’t fund organisations who have paid workers, others won’t fund if you haven’t.
Ensure that your project meets the funder’s stated priorities. A lot of funds, especially local ones, will fund any type of project – what the Charity Commission calls General Charitable Purposes – but others have specific priorities or have a preference for certain types.
Be sure to include any further information that the funder requests –e.g. accounts, budgets, quotes. But don’t send them if they don’t ask. You can easily put them off by sending a load of bumph they didn’t ask for.
Go for the wow factor! You are passionate about what you do – you wouldn’t do it otherwise. Put that passion on the page so the reader feels it too. Remember it’s a person reading it, not a machine. Add pictures, if you can, or quotes from people using your project.
Keep in mind, the person reading your bid is a nice person who wants to give you the money, but they might have a pile of similar pleas in front of them. They probably can’t fund them all and they have to make choices. Make sure yours is the one that stands out and is the one they choose.
Keep it simple, and don’t make overambitious claims that a funder might hold you to.
Don’t use jargon. (A favourite we once saw in a bid – ‘Proxy-counterfactual longitudinal self-reported polling’. No, we don’t know what it means either!).
If you have to use acronyms, spell it out in full the first time you use it, with the acronym in brackets.
Be bold and use direct language. (‘We will…’ – not ‘we hope to’ or ‘we would like to’.)
You can’t receive funding twice for the same things, but there is no rule against applying to more than one funder for the same stuff, so don’t wait to hear the result before trying again elsewhere. If you are lucky enough to be successful at more than one, you can always return the funds, or better still, explain to one funder that you have been successful elsewhere and ask if you could use their funds for something else instead. You may be lucky.
And lastly, don’t be put off by rejection. Most funders are oversubscribed and receive applications for more money than they have to award – you can’t win them all.
If you’d like to download this information as a PDF document, click here.