Funding & eligibility

Please note that the fund closed for applications at 1pm, Thursday 24th March 2022.

Funding & support available

We offered grants from £10,000 to £100,000. Most grants will be between £10,000 and £50,000.

The funding can be used for:

Helping you get your social enterprise back on track

  • This might be the costs of getting trading back up and running, supporting outreach and marketing, supporting your costs while your business gets back to full strength, developing new markets and services etc.

Helping you work with communities that are recovering

  • This might be work related to supporting communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19, for example, supporting people to get back to work, helping marginalised children catch up with education, supporting families who have been bereaved, providing services for people affected by long COVID etc.

For example, the grant may:

  • fund the costs of a community outreach worker to support people to return to your community centre
  • help you pilot the provision of additional educational support for children and young people who need help to catch up, with a view to this eventually being commissioned by schools
  • be funding for a community supermarket to enable you to continue to provide affordable food for your local community
  • help you build local partnerships to provide skills training and employment for communities particularly hit by COVID-19

You may apply for up to 15% of your total grant (up to a maximum of £5,000) to be spent on external consultancy / training / business support, to help you strengthen your organisation.

Please see the application guidance and FAQs for full details.

One-to-one support surgeries

As part of your grant, we will offer you two one-to-one support surgeries with one of our social enterprise advisors, who can talk through your programme and signpost you to support if required. These support sessions are optional.

Eligibility criteria - who the fund was for

Please read the application guidance and FAQs for full details - the below is a shortened version of the full eligibility criteria.

To be eligible for this fund you needed to be able to answer yes to the following criteria: 

In England

The fund is only available to you if the majority of the people and/or organisations you support through your social enterprise live and/or are based in England.

At least one year old

Your social enterprise must have been incorporated for at least 12 months (i.e. registered with Companies House, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Charity Commission).

An incorporated social purpose organisation with an asset lock

Your social enterprise must be incorporated. It may be a charitable company, a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), a Community Interest Company (CIC) or a Community Benefit Society (CBS/Registered Society).

It may also be a company limited by guarantee (CLG), a company limited by shares (CLS), a co-operative society, or other registered society, if, within its governing document, it has:

  • a clear social purpose, such as an Objects or Social Purpose clause
  • a restriction on distribution of profits, to the extent that at least 51% of surpluses are reinvested for its social purpose
  • an ‘asset lock‘, which is a restriction on the distribution of assets

Annual income between £20,000 and £1.8 million

This is your income, either in your last financial year or the previous financial year (pre-COVID-19). (Please note that loans, including COVID-19 related loans, do not count as income.) In exceptional circumstances, we may consider organisations that have recently started and have had £20,000 income in the last 12 months (rather than the last financial year).

Substantially reliant on income from trading

Your social enterprise must be substantially reliant on income from trading to deliver social impact. By ‘income from trading’, we mean both sales of goods and/or services and delivery of contracts to supply goods or services. We will prioritise social enterprises where income has previously come mostly through trading, and which need support to rebuild trading income to enable you to deliver your social impact.

Financially resilient

We must be confident that with our support, your social enterprise will survive at least the next 12 months.  If you have a negative balance on your balance sheet, or significant debts, you will need to explain how you will continue to trade.

Dual authority bank account

This means that at least two unrelated people are required to release payments. You don’t have to have this now, but must have this in place before receiving the grant.

Our priorities

We are seeking to make grants to social enterprises which:

Reach the most marginalised communities and promote inclusion

We will prioritise social enterprises which are:

  • working with the most marginalised communities in England
  • led by and/or working with disabled people and/or from Black, Asian and minority ethnic and/or LGBTQIA+ communities
  • led by people with direct lived experience of the issues they are seeking to support

Support social enterprises to recover

We will prioritise social enterprises that:

  • are normally substantially reliant on income from trading
  • have a clear plan for growing or returning to substantial income from trading
  • will benefit from both the grant and the business support on offer

We want to see applications which support social enterprises to:

  • restart, grow and diversify revenue streams, particularly income from trading
  • develop new markets, products, services and partnerships
  • to reach diverse communities
  • adapt business models, delivery models, spaces and support to enable delivery in the new reality
  • strengthen systems, including governance, financial management systems and IT
  • strengthen staff and volunteer teams, including managing restructuring, training and wellbeing

Support communities to recover

We will prioritise social enterprises that can demonstrate that they are working with communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and are supporting those communities to recover.

Some examples of this are social enterprises that are:

  • reducing poverty and/or providing debt management services (e.g. tackling inequality and/or homelessness)
  • enabling routes back to employment (e.g. skills and job training, access to vacancies, job creation)
  • overcoming educational disadvantage (e.g. helping marginalised children and young people catch up)
  • improving physical health (e.g. working with sufferers of long COVID-19 and/or existing health conditions worsened by COVID-19)
  • improving mental health (e.g. for young people and older people, people who have been bereaved, people who have faced domestic abuse, child abuse, addiction, rural isolation etc.)
  • relieving isolation by bringing community spaces back to life (e.g. community owned leisure facilities, community centres and community cafes)

We are committed to ensuring that applications will be considered fairly against these agreed eligibility criteria and priorities, and to ensuring that we have reached all areas of England. However, funding is limited, and we may not be able to fund all applications that fit these priorities.

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