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Find funding opportunities

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This page explains how to plan for and find new funding opportunities during covid-19. It outlines and signposts you to practical information about what funding is available from grant-making charities, government and other sources. It is aimed at senior leaders and fundraisers who have responsibility for getting funding for their voluntary organisation.

Plan your organisation’s income 

For many voluntary organisation’s covid-19 has meant exploring new funding opportunities.   

Before you look for funding opportunities, here are some questions you may want to consider: 

  • Are you clear about what you need funding for? In order to know who to approach, you should be clear about what you need funding for.  
  • Have you spoken to your organisation’s existing funders about your funding needs and whether they can offer support? It is often worth speaking to your existing funders to find out if they can offer support at this difficult time.  Funders are very aware of the challenges voluntary organisations are facing. See our section on renegotiating with funders in our delivering activities and services guidance.  
  • How will this funding fit with your organisation’s purpose and strategy? It is important that you make sure your approach to funding is in line with your organisation’s purpose and strategy.
  • Are you clear about your organisation’s impact? Understanding your organisation’s impact will help you build a case for support.  

Read our new funding guidance for more information about funding and planning your organisation’s income

We also have online training to help you develop your fundraising strategy and diversify your income.  

Access funding opportunities 

Funding opportunities: general 

If you are looking for opportunities to access funds for your organisation, go to: 

  • Our Funding Central Platform which provides low-cost access to thousands of the latest funding and finance opportunities from European, national, regional and local government as well as from charitable sources
  • DSC’s Funds Online which provides thousands of funding opportunities for individuals and organisations from grant-making charities, companies and statutory providers.  

Funding opportunities: from government 

There are a number of opportunities for voluntary organisations to receive financial support from the government. Below, we provide information about the: 

You may also want to read information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.    

Find more information about the government’s financial package of support for charities.

Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS)

    • be based in the UK 
    • have a turnover below £45m 
    • be viable were it not for the pandemic
    • be able to show they have been adversely impacted by covid-19.  
  • The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and covers the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. 
  • The maximum length of the loan will depend on the type of finance you apply for: 
    • up to three years for overdrafts and invoice finance facilities
    • up to six years, for loans and asset finance facilities  

Is loan finance right for your organisation? 

When considering the scheme, charities must note that loans commit charities to long-term interest payments and trustees will need to check they have the power to agree loans and weigh up options before applying.

Some key issues to consider: 

  • Is taking on debt is in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries both now and in the future? 
  • What will the loan allow you to do and could this be achieved through other means e.g partnership working? 
  • Although the loans are available to charities, some charities will have restrictions in their governing documents which prevent or restrict their borrowing. Trustees should check they have the power to borrow before agreeing a loan. 
  • As with any loan, trustees must examine financial forecasts. This involves assessing your expected unrestricted income and outgoings over the coming years. Are you able to repay the loan and what are the implications on your ability to deliver your charity’s purpose? 
  • Although loans up to £250,000 carry no personal guarantee, higher loans may. This means there could be implications for individual liability and trustees should understand this risk by discussing it with their lender.  
  • A charity’s legal form also has implications for signing off loans and the personal risks involved. Although we understand larger unincorporated organisations will be eligible, trustees of these organisations need to be aware that there are increased risks for their personal liability. 

Bounce back loan scheme

  • On 4 May 2020, the government launched the bounce back loan scheme which aims to help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and 25% of their turnover.  The maximum amount is £50,000.
  • The scheme is open to application until 31 March 2021
  • The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will be no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.  
  • Loan terms will be up to six years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months but you can repay early without paying a fee.  
  • As with the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), the requirement that 50% of your income must come from trading has been waived for charities.
  • In order to be eligible for the scheme, charities must satisfy the following criteria:
    • be based in the UK 
    • be established before 1 March 2020 
    • be able to show your charity has been adversely impacted by covid-19.
  • Charities cannot apply if they are already claiming under CBILS.
  • However, if your charity has received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the bounce back loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender up until 31 March 2021.
  • More information on how to apply can be found on the British Business Bank website.

The National Lottery Community Fund 

Page last edited Jan 11, 2021

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