Guidance for applicants

Please ensure you read the relevant sections of the application guidance and FAQs before applying.

Pdf downloads:

Plain text, large print versions - Word downloads:

Please email if the versions above are designed in a way that is not accessible to you.

We have copied the FAQs (frequently asked questions) from the application guidance notes, in case you prefer to view this information online when you apply.

FAQs about eligibility

What do you mean by “at least one year old”?

Your organisation must have been incorporated for at least one year to be eligible for this fund. This means it must have been registered with Companies House, the FCA or the Charity Commission one year ago. If your organisation has been in existence for more than one year, but you have recently changed your legal structure (e.g. moving from an unincorporated charity to a charitable incorporated organisation), then please use tell us the date your organisation was set up and explain the changes in the notes section.

What do you mean by “legally incorporated and asset locked”?

Your social enterprise must be incorporated.

If your social enterprise is a charitable company, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), a Community Interest Company (CIC) or a Community Benefit Society (CBS / Registered Society), that is fine.  You can check its registration and find the number and data of registration on the following websites:

Other charities registered with the Charity Commission may not be incorporated. This includes trusts and unincorporated associations. If they are not incorporated, they will not be eligible for this programme.

Other than the organisations listed above, companies limited by guarantee (CLG), companies limited by shares (CLS), co-operative societies, or other registered societies, can apply if, within their governing document there is:

  • a clear social purpose
  • a restriction on distribution of profits, to the extent that at least 51% of surpluses are reinvested for its social purpose
  • an “asset lock”

“Asset locked” means that there is a clause in your constitution or articles which prevents assets, such as cash or buildings, from being distributed for private benefit when the organisation is wound up. CICs, charities and community benefit societies are asset locked. Other organisations may have an asset lock in their articles as a separate clause, or as part of the winding up or dissolution clause.

We cannot fund unincorporated associations or trusts, nor organisations that can distribute most of their profits to private shareholders.

What do you mean by “annual income between £25,000 and £1.5 million before COVID-19”?

Your income EITHER in your last financial year OR the year up to 31st March 2020, must be between £25,000 and £1.5 million. This means all income, not just trading income.

You must be able to demonstrate this through providing us with a full set of company or charity accounts, or a set of management accounts for the year to 31st March 2020.

What do you mean by “trading”?

By “trading” we mean sales of products, goods, or services. It may include rental income and housing benefit. It includes the sale of donated goods. Trading might be direct sales, such as the sale of food, clothing, tickets, classes, workshops, etc. It might be a contract for delivery of services to other organisations including contracts delivered through local authorities or public bodies. For the purposes of this programme, you may consider Service Level Agreements or similar arrangements with public authorities, which are specifically for the delivery of a specific project and when they require the delivery of specific results i.e. completion of training, getting into a job etc, as trading income.

In general, we will not count bartering unless you already identify the value of bartered goods within your accounts. We are unlikely to consider crowdfunding unless it is specifically pre-selling products or services at or close to their full value.

We will generally not count fundraising activities by charities, such as fundraising events, raffles, lotteries, auctions etc.  

What do you mean by “substantially reliant on trading”?

Social enterprises trade for a social purpose. Many organisations that trade have been particularly hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. We want to support organisations where trading income is core to their business model and the loss of which means they are struggling to deliver their social impact. It is likely that organisations getting support will have more than 50% of their income as trading income, but there may be cases where the percentage is smaller. In this case, we will want to understand how the loss of trading income has implications for their overall social impact.

What does it mean to be “financially stable at the end of December 2019”?

Your social enterprise must have been financially stable before COVID-19 and specifically on December 31st 2019.  

If the crisis had not struck, there would have been a good expectation that your social enterprise would have been viable this year and into the foreseeable future.

Specifically, on December 31st 2019, your social enterprise:

  • Was able to pay its debts.
  • Was not subject to insolvency proceedings.
  • Was not subject to a restructuring plan as part of having had rescue aid.

FAQs about applying

Will you consider partnership bids?

We can accept applications from partnerships, for example, where you are leading a group of local providers to provide support people who are experiencing homelessness. In this case, the lead organisation will need to fulfil the criteria above. You will need to provide us with a list of other partners. They will not be able to apply separately for this funding to cover the same work. If you are applying as a partnership, please attach copies of most recent accounts for all partners and full details of the partnership as a separate document with your application.

Will you fund charities that trade?

Some social enterprises are established as charities and are very dependent on trading within their business model. We are happy to consider those charities.

However, we are unlikely to support charities whose main or only trading is through fundraising events or a charity shop. Charities whose main income is through donation or grant income are strongly encouraged to apply for a charitable focused grant response programme, if possible.

Will you consider social enterprises that are connected to a charity (trading subsidiaries)?

We may consider applications from social enterprises that are connected to a charity. If the social enterprise is not a separately registered company, then the whole charity could apply, but we would consider the application in the light of the whole charity. This would mean that the charity should have an income of less than £1.5 million and be substantially reliant on trading overall.

If the social enterprise is a legally separate organisation (a trading subsidiary) it could apply to us directly, but it would have to fulfil the eligibility criteria itself. For example, consider a homelessness charity that has a connected social enterprise.

If the social enterprise upcycles and sells donated furniture, provided training, work experience and employment for homeless people in its shop and workshop, and it fulfils the other criteria for this programme, it could apply to us directly.

If the social enterprise is a charity shop, which sells clothes and furniture, but does not directly benefit homeless people, then it could not apply directly. However, in this case the homelessness charity may apply to us, as a group, i.e. the charity with its trading subsidiary together. In this case, the whole group must fulfil the criteria above. For example, if a charity together with its trading subsidiary is substantially reliant on trading income and has income under £1.5 million, then we may consider an application from the group.

Will I get feedback if I am not successful?

We are expecting to be very oversubscribed and having to make decisions very quickly. We will let you know if you have not been successful, but sadly we do not have the capacity to offer individual feedback for this programme.

If I was not successful in round 1, can I apply again?

We can only accept one application from each social enterprise for this programme. You will not be able to apply again unless we have specifically asked you to do so. We have a system for checking for duplicate applications and further applications will be rejected.

What about data protection?

The partners are committed to protecting your personal information and acting in line with your rights under data protections laws. Our privacy policy is available here.

FAQs about filling in the application

What is the “Project Postcode”?

We have asked you for the address or your social enterprise, but also a Project Postcode. This is where your main service delivery is based. It may be the same as your organisation address or different. If you have more than one project address, choose the main one. If you are an online service, choose your organisations address.

Which region are we in?

If you are not sure, the list is ONS regions, and we are required to report on this. Use the address where your service is based, rather than your registered office. If you are not sure which region you are in, there is a map available here (clicking will download the map).

What do we mean by “leaders with lived experience”?

A leader with lived experience is someone who uses their first-hand experience of a social issue to create positive change for and with the communities and people they share those experiences with. For example:

  • someone who has been homeless who is working to improve homelessness services
  • a person with HIV who has set up and is running a peer-to-peer support service for other people with HIV
  • a person who has lost a loved one to suicide sets up and runs a support group for others who have lost someone to suicide.

A lived experience leader would not be:

  • a non-disabled person who has volunteered with disabled people, and wants to set up a disability charity
  • a parent/carer of someone with HIV who has set up a support group for people with HIV.

What financial information do I need to provide?

We need to have a clear picture of your financial position. Please provide the most up to date financial information you have.

Specifically we are asking for:

  • Statutory accounts: - These are the accounts that you would send to Companies House, the FCA or the Charity Commission. We need to see the full version, not the abbreviated version. The full version includes the income and expenditure/profit and loss statement. You may send draft accounts if these are available.

You should submit the most recent statutory accounts you have. They should have an end date which is less than 2 years ago.

  • Management Accounts: - Please send a set of management accounts for the period up to 31st March 2020. These should show your income and expenditure for the year (or part year). Your management accounts normally show different types of income you have coming in and the types of expenditure and outgoings. They might be a “profit and loss” report from your finance system, or a spreadsheet, or the management report you give to your board.
  • Cashflow Statement: You should submit these if you are applying for over £50,000. If less than £50,000 it can be helpful to see a cashflow statement if you have one, but it is not a requirement.

A cashflow statement shows your income and expenditure each month. It starts with an opening balance (the cash you have available at the beginning of the period) and then shows what cash is available at the end of each month. It helps identify where there might be cash shortages over the year. An example template can be found here

FAQs about receiving funding

Does this fund fall under State Aid rules?

This grant will count as State Aid. However, our intention is to make this grant under the EU COVID-19 Temporary Framework for State Aid where possible. This allows an organisation to receive €800,000 (Euro) of emergency funding.

If the grant is paid under the EU COVID-19 Temporary Framework, it will not count towards the “De minimis” State Aid that you may receive from other sources, and therefore should not affect your ability to access other non-COVID related support that may be deemed to be State Aid, such as Employment Allowance.

In some cases, we may need to make grants under the de minimis State Aid rules if we feel that we cannot use the Temporary Framework.

What about safeguarding?

Safeguarding issues are changing quickly as social enterprises adapt their services following COVID-19. If you are working with children under 18 or adults at risk, you must have a Safeguarding Policy in place, and undertake the checks required by law on staff and volunteers.  We may ask you for a copy of your policy and we would like to hear how you have adapted your safeguarding practice if you are providing new services. Useful guidance on safeguarding is available from NCVO

What are the requirements for bank accounts?

Before you are paid the grant, you will need to have a bank account which has dual authority, so that at least two unrelated people are required to release payments.

What other requirements are there?

If your application is successful, we will ask you to confirm that you:

  • are doing appropriate risk assessments to ensure your staff, volunteers and people who use your services are safe
  • have appropriate insurance in place
  • pay salaries that are reasonable and proportionate relative to other voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations
  • advertise new posts funded by this grant programme externally unless otherwise agreed with us
  • can demonstrate that no private benefit will arise from the grant (such as dividend payments to shareholders)
  • if you are providing therapeutic counselling services, that your staff and volunteers are properly trained and supervised, and that you have any accreditation required if you are providing care, educational, or professional services, and you are required to do so, that you are registered with the relevant regulatory body in England.