Main Grants: Should I apply?

Our Main Grants programme is open to charities and not-for-profit organisations applying for grants over £10,000 per year for up to three years. Check the information below to see if your project should apply. But first – have you read about how, together, we improve children’s lives in the UK.

If you are looking for any amount up to £10,000 for one year, see Small Grants.

We give grants for...

Children and young people of 18 years and under experiencing disadvantage through:

  1. Illness, distress, abuse or neglect
  2. Any kind of disability
  3. Behavioural or psychological difficulties
  4. Living in poverty or situations of deprivation

Projects we fund make differences in children’s lives that help prevent or overcome the effects of the disadvantages they face. Projects achieve these differences by either working directly with children or seeking to improve their social and physical environments.

Who can apply?

  • Not-for-profit organisations that work with disadvantaged children and young people of 18 years and under who live in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.
  • If you currently have a Main Grant, as long as your funding is coming to an end within the next 12 months you can apply for further Main Grant funding to keep running the same project, or on a different project. You will need to be able to provide convincing evidence of the differences our grant has made to the lives of the disadvantaged children and young people you have worked with.
  • If you currently have a Small Grant you can also apply for a Main Grant as long as it is for work with a different group of children and young people.

We DON'T give grants...

  • For work which statutory bodies (such as schools or local authorities) have a duty to fund
  • To local government or NHS bodies
  • For building projects applying to us for more than £20,000
  • For projects which promote religion
  • To fund trips or projects abroad
  • For medical treatment or research
  • For pregnancy testing or advice, information or counselling on pregnancy choices
  • For awareness-raising work, except where it is targeted at those children or young people most at risk.
  • For bursaries, sponsored places, fees or equivalent
  • For family holidays where there is little or no project involvement
  • For political activity and we can't give grants to party political organisations or for direct lobbying
  • To individuals (unless an eligible organisation is applying on their behalf or through our Emergency Essentials Programme).
  • To be passed on to other organisations, for example, PTAs applying on behalf of schools
  • For general appeals or endowment funds
  • To help with budget shortfalls or debt repayments
  • To projects where the grant expenditure is due to start before the grant award date (retrospective funding)
  • To organisations which have applied in the last 12 months
  • To projects unable to start within 12 months of the grant award date
  • For unspecified expenditure
  • For organisational overheads or running costs which the organisation would incur whether the project was running or not. (Although we will consider funding support costs incurred as a direct result of running the project.)

It is very important that you refer to our online A To Z Guidance to make sure you don’t waste time applying for things we don’t fund and check you meet our minimum standards for grantmaking. You will find valuable details on our policies here - some are relevant to every project (for example Safeguarding Children) and some are important for certain types of project (for example counselling projects or projects seeking funding for equipment).

How much to apply for?

  • Our Main Grants Programme is for grants over £10,000 per year to support projects for up to three years.
  • There is no upper limit for Main Grants but we make very few grants over £120,000 (or £40,000 per year) and most grants are for much less.
  • Each year we are asked for much more money than we are able to give. Requests for larger amounts are always more competitive.
  • If you wish to apply for a smaller amount our Small Grants Programme or our Emergency Essentials Programme may suit you better.

How to apply

  1. Plan your project carefully. You may find our guide to Planning Your Project useful before you complete your application. Poor planning is a common reason why applications are not successful.
  2. Read our A to Z Guidance to help you make sure you only apply for things that we can fund.
  3. Read our minimum standards for grantmaking to help you assess whether organisations are eligible. Please read these. If you do not meet these we will be unable to progress your application.
  4. We have a two stage application process which will enable us to let you know quickly whether we’d like to see a full application.
  5. Use our online application system to complete an Initial Application and to submit additional information.
  6. At the start of the application form you will be required to complete an eligibility quiz, please answer this carefully as it tells us whether your project is one we are able to fund. You will be asked to provide evidence for these answers during our assessment process.

The most common reason applications are unsuccessful is because not all the required extra information is included. If you have any questions about what you need to submit please refer to our FAQ or contact us.

We don't assess applications:

When to apply

You should plan your application so that you will hear a decision in plenty of time before your project is due to start. We cannot fund work that takes place or costs that are incurred before a decision is received.

Initial Application DeadlineWhen is the final decision due?
11:59pm, 13 September 2017Early March 2018
11:59pm, 16 January 2018Mid June 2018
11:59pm 17 May 2018Mid October 2018
11:59pm 13 September 2018Mid February 2019

We usually make decisions on Main Grants within about 5 months of the application deadline date. Some applicants will hear much earlier if they are not going to get a grant.

When planning your application you should consider that, if successful, you must start spending the grant within 12 months of hearing the decision.

If you currently have a Main Grant and wish to apply for further funding for the same project, or a different project, you should not apply until your grant is in its final year.

What happens after we submit our Main Grant Initial Application form?

After you submit your Main Grant Initial Application form you will receive an email confirming that we have received it. This email will give you more information about what happens next.

A decision about whether or not to invite you to the next stage will be made in your local region or nation a couple of weeks after the deadline. You will be informed of the decision by email.

If your Initial Application is invited to the next stage you will need to complete a Main Grant Full Application form. To be considered in the next round, you'll have three weeks to complete a Full Application form online. You will need to be available in the month after you submit your Full Application for a telephone assessment. Your referee will also need to be available during this time to provide a reference.

What happens after we submit our Main Grant Full application form?

If you are invited to submit a Full Application form you will receive an email giving you a link to the form and advising you of the deadline for submitting that form.

After you submit the form you will receive an email confirming that we have received it and giving you more information about what happens next.

We will do a basic check to see if you have submitted all the information we need and if your organisation is suitable for our funding and meets our minimum standards for grantmaking.

You will then be contacted to arrange an interview with an independent assessor, usually by telephone, to help us to better understand your project.

Your application will be considered by a voluntary committee in your region or nation who will recommend to our trustees whether or not to give you a grant.

Our Board of Trustees will make the final decisions and you will be informed of the decision by email. You can find information on when you can expect to hear a decision in the email confirming that we received your full application.

What happens next?

If your application is successful you will receive an email informing you of the decision. This email will give you more information on what happens next.

There may be some conditions on your grant: changes that need to be made or things you will have to tell us before we can award you the funds.

You will have to start spending the money within 12 months of the date of the email informing you of the decision.

You can find more information in the ‘I have a grant’ section.

If your application is unsuccessful, you will receive an email informing you of the decision. This email will give you brief reasons as to why your application was turned down and will indicate when you can next apply. You can also contact us if would like further feedback.