Guidance for applicants

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

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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.

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. Most churches are not incorporated unless they are established as companies or CIOs. If they are not incorporated, they will not be eligible for this programme.

“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.

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” (see FAQs for further information)

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 March 31st, 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 local 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 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 is 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.  This is because of the State Aid requirements for this grant.

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.

For companies limited by shares, if they were more than three years old on December 31st, they must not have had accumulated losses which are more than half their share capital. If you think you might be in this position, please seek advice.

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.

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 trading subsidiaries of charities?

We will consider applications from trading subsidiaries if they themselves directly fulfil the eligibility criteria. For example, some trading subsidiaries do excellent work in directly supporting disabled or elderly people. If they fit the criteria, they would be able to apply directly.

We would not generally consider applications directly from trading subsidiaries whose main purpose is to raise money for a charity, but where the charity delivers the priority activities. 

We would accept an application from the charity 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 am not successful in round 1 or 2, 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

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, which 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.

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