UPDATED: Top funding opportunities available now for charities

Our run down of the most recent funding opportunities for charities has been updated to include the latest list of grants, investment and awards available.

This includes new funding for community ownership projects as well as small grants for arts and heritage organisations and social investment for charities in Scotland.

This update comes as public funding for civil society is set to become even more scarce amid Covid-19 recovery this year.

Earlier this year New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) warned that charities are “unlikely to receive” much of a £5.17bn block of government funding aimed at “levelling up” the UK to tackle geographic inequalities.

Nevertheless there are still funding opportunities to be found, from smaller government pots of cash as well as from grants from trusts and foundations.

Trusts in particular are increasingly keen to support charities that are looking to bolster their digital capabilities, as well as support the mental health needs and emotional wellbeing of beneficiaries hit hardest by the current health crisis.

Power Up Scotland

Big Issue Invest has opened applications for £500,000 worth of investment for 12 social ventures through its Power Up Scotland initiative.

ts latest funding round of investment is open for applications until 17 September.

Scottish charities, social enterprises as well as businesses creating social value can apply.

Funding can be used for buying equipment, hiring talent or progressing with business development plans, said Big Issue Invest.



“The programme has been designed for early-stage social ventures, regardless of company structure - social enterprises, charities, and private enterprises are all welcome, with social value creation being the key criterion. The expectation is that many applicants will be accessing finance for the first time,” it adds.

Community Ownership Fund

The government has announced details of the £150m Community Ownership Fund to enable communities to take ownership of local amenities at risk of closing.

Priority for the first round is to invest in projects that are ready to access capital finding and complete projects within six months. The deadline for first round bids is August 13.

A second bidding round is set to open in December, with a third in May 2022.

Typical projects to be funded include:
• sporting and leisure facilities
• cinemas and theatres
• music venues
• museums
• galleries
• parks
• pubs
• post office buildings
• shops

Idlewild Trust small grants scheme

The Idlewild Trust has re-opened applications for two of its funding streams.

The first focuses on grants to arts organisations to nurture professionals at the start of their career in the arts. The other involes grants to support the conservation of historic or artistically important objects and works of arts in museums, galleries, historic buildings and places of worship.



The deadline for both funding streams is 14 September, with decisions on applications to be given by the end of November.

The Idlewild Trust funds around 40 to 50 organisations a year and awarded £128,055 in 2020 in 33 grants. The average grant last year was £3,880.

Racial Equity Fund

Lloyds Bank Foundation has launched a Racial Equity Fund for small charities that are led by and support Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

The Fund launched on April 20. Two-year unrestricted grants of £50,000 as well as development support is being made available.

The funding is open all year round to give charities greater flexibility to apply at a time that suits them, according to the Foundation.

More than half of the trustee boards of those that apply must self-identify as Black, Asian or minority ethnic. The must also have an annual income of between £25,000 and £1m and a strong track record of supporting minority communities.



The Covid-19 pandemic shining “a light on existing deep-rooted and systemic inequalities in our society” has been a key factor in the Fund launching, according to the Foundation.

“These inequalities are present across the complex social issues the Foundation funds such as homelessness, domestic abuse, mental ill health and the criminal justice system, with Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities less well served by mainstream provision, and disproportionately affected,” the Foundation said.

The 7 Stars Foundation

The 7 Stars Foundation offers funding to projects that support some of the UK’s most challenged young people. This includes young victims of abuse, addiction or those who are young carers.

It offers direct and project grants. Other funding streams include its Shine Bright funding for regional charities during Covid-19 pandeic. This enables charities to bolster their mental health support for young people.

Another is its Star Start funding initiative to fund breakfast clubs in schools, with a focus in 2021 on those in London.

The latest application submission deadline is at the end of October.

Revitalising Trusts Programme

This programme is run by UK Community Foundations in partnership with the Charity Commission and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure dormant or inactive charitable trusts unlock unspent funding on good causes.

Even though many of these pots are small, collectively they can make a significant difference. The programme has been running since 2018 and has revitalised more than £30m of inactive funds in England.

A Welsh version of the scheme launched earlier this year. This offers trusts the option to transfer funding to Community Foundation Wales to spend on local projects and good causes.

Magic Little Grants

Applications are now open for this year’s Magic Little Grants grant giving scheme, which is being run by Localgiving and funded through funding partners from the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The focus is on directing micro grants to small charities. Being made available is 2,000 grants worth £500 for charities and community groups.

This year the fund is supporting groups and charities working to improve mental wellbeing, community arts, outdoor spaces, participation in physical activity, green spaces and responding to climate emergency.

It is also looking to fund schemes that reduce the impact of poverty and support marginalised groups as well as promoting equality.

The deadline for applications is 31 October, 2021.

National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF)

The NLCF has a raft of funding opportunities available charities of all sizes which have an ongoing application deadline.

For smaller charities, funding of between £300 and £10,000 is made available through the National Lottery Awards for All funding streams, for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile its onling Reaching Community England fund offers larger grants of mor ethan £10,000 for projects that last up to five years. These grants focus on projects working with the community.

Other funding streams include its People and Communities fund for up grants of up to £500,000 for projects in Northern Ireland.

Another is its Growing Great Ideas programme, which is offering minimum grants of £150,000 to projecs that invest in supporting transformational and long-term change .

Among its latest is the Bringing People Together Fund. This offers funding of up to £300,000 for up to two years to support projects that strengthen community links and infrastructures.

Another is its Local Connections Fund, which is offering £2m in funding in micro grants to charities to tackle loneliness. The deadline for applications is 20 August.

John Lyon’s Charity

Another major funder to offer a variety of funding initiatives to charities is John Lyon’s Charity, which has a particular focus on projects that benefit children and young people.

Its funding includes the £22m Cultural Capital Fund, which aims to avert charity closures amid Covid-19 recovery. This will initially support the arts and young people and will hand out funding over the next year. The Charity is particularly keen to support organisations working in collaboration, those replicating successful, initiatives and those at serious risk of closure.

“Our aim is to fund not just for the recovery but for the sustainability of the children and young people’s sector,” said John Lyon’s Charity chief executive Lynne Guyton.

“We strongly believe that we need to take positive action now to safeguard our previous investment in the sector for future generations. Now is the proverbial rainy day”.

Other grants include main, small and bursary funds. It also has a School Holiday Activity Fund and runs a Capacity Building small grants fund.

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