Community Initiatives Fund

Individuals, voluntary organisations and community groups with a vision to boost their local communities and help make Essex a great place to live and work could gain much needed funding from Essex County Council's 'Community Initiatives Fund

Grants of up to £10,000 can be awarded for projects that benefit the wider community and demonstrate a real community need.  These may be for new amenities, equipment, new local services or cultural initiatives all of which contribute towards strengthening communities.

In addition, micro-grants of up to £500 are available throughout the year to enable community projects at a grass roots level to quickly and easily access vital funds for projects that can help reduce social isolation, improve wellbeing and support better connected communities.  

Projects are excluded in Southend and Thurrock. For more information visit or contact the Funding Officer Louise Gambardella 

POWER TO CHANGE - a rage of funding opportunities on offer

Homes in Community Hands

Our Community-led Housing programme opens on 4 March 2019. It will provide £4.2million in support and grants to help community business groups progress projects that build or refurbish well-built, affordable and future-proof homes designed around the needs of local people Find out more about the Homes in Community Hands programme, read the guidance 


Community Business Bright Ideas

Are you a community group in England looking to set up and start running a community business? Our Community Business Bright Ideas fund can support you with tailored business development support and a grant of up to £15,000. The fund opens for applications from 26 February 2019. Find out if you are eligible to apply by reading the guidance or signing up to our webinar on 13 March.


Community Shares Booster Programme

Give your community shares offer a boost with match funding from Power to Change's community shares booster programme. Delivered by the Community Shares Unit, the programme matches what you raise through community shares with an equity investment of up to £100,000. Find out more on the programme and how to apply.   


Up to £6,000 for community groups setting up a community business.

Get started on your community share issue

Are you part of a group which has a plan to set up a community business such as a pub, shop, woodland, community centre, energy project or sports facility? Do you need to undertake a community share issue to raise the money to make it happen? Then this fund is for you.

This fund will help pay for the crucial things like building surveys, producing and printing share offer documents, getting legally registered and so on. It will also help  you start the crucial work of engaging your potential investors, by testing the water  before diving in to the work needed to launch a share offer.

We can match fund at 50% (potentially more in deprived areas) of what you need to get your share offer up and running, to a maximum of £6,000, as long as you can  raise the rest through crowdfunding.

If you have already started a project, find out how to apply for this fund


Plunkett Foundation The 'More than a Pub' programme offers:

  • Expert support in areas such as Business Planning, Community Shares, Legal Structures, Social Impact and Finance
  • Opportunities to attend events, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits
  • Bursary Grants of up to £2500 for feasibility costs
  • A combined Loan and Grant Package of up to £100,000 towards capital costs.

More than a pub aims to increase the number of community-owned pubs open and trading and also to grow the range of services they offer to help the wider community. Services provided by community pubs could include a shop, post office, library, internet café, cash point, police surgeries, lunch clubs for the elderly, prescription services and informal meeting spaces for a range of community activities such as sports teams, choirs, live music and walking groups.

This £3.85 million England wide programme is jointly funded by Power to Change and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The programme is being led by Plunkett Foundation and delivered in collaboration with leading organisations within the sector.

Read our guidance notes for More than a Pub.

To check your eligibility and find out more please call the programme helpline on 01993 810730 or visit


Enterprise Development Programme


What is it?

The Enterprise Development Programme is a five year, £40m programme funded by Access - The Foundation for Social Investment and managed by a coalition of partners.

The initiative will provide a broad range of support for charities and social enterprises in England helping them make a transition to new enterprise models, or grow existing ones.

The programme will begin with grant and learning pilots in September 2018.

Who is it for?

Organisations that are thinking of exploring new enterprise models and social investment but require financial or business support to make the transition.

Initially the programme will be aimed at organisations that operate in the following fields of untapped enterprise development:

  • Homelessness
  • Youth services

What can I apply for?

There are two strands of the Enterprise Development Programme

1. Enterprise Grants 

Delivered by Social Investment Business, this programme will support charities and social enterprises in England, working in either the homelessness or youth sector to develop or grow their enterprising activity and earned income.

2. Enterprise Learning 

Delivered by School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), this programme will provide peer-based learning opportunities and associated support to leaders of charities and social enterprises in the homeless and youth services.


 Forward Enterprise Fund (SIB)


£100,000 to help break the vicious cycle of reoffending and addiction across England

We believe that people are capable of transformational change, no matter how chaotic their histories.

Therefore, in partnership with the Forward Trust, we have £100,000 in total available to support early-stage enterprises and charities that prioritise creating jobs for ex-offenders and people in recovery. 

Each eligible project can access up to £5,000 towards their Crowdfunder project.

Do you have an idea or early stage enterprise or charity that creates jobs for ex-offenders or people in recovery? If so, apply now below!

This programme is part of a wider initiative called the Forward Enterprise Fund which provides business support and repayable finance to organisations who share our mission. 

Bright Futures Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund


The Bright Futures Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund can provide accessible, patient and affordable investment to charities and social enterprises.

It is of interest to those social enterprises seeking social investment to grow.


What is SITR?

SITR is a tax incentive modelled on the better known Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). However, unlike EIS, the aim is to generate a positive social return (or 'impact') in addition to a positive financial return. It is designed to allow individual UK tax payers to invest in charities and social enterprises to increase the availability of affordable capital to such organisations.


Who is Social Finance? What is the Bright Futures Fund?


Social Finance is a not for profit organisation that partners with the government, the social sector and the financial community to find better ways of tackling social problems in the UK and beyond. They have raised a new SITR fund called the Bright Futures Fund. It is the first UK wide SITR fund and has raised £1.5M from 45 investors. The Bright Futures Fund is focused on organisations working with children, youth and vulnerable communities and has so far made two investments, with an aim to make more in the coming months.


What can the funding offer?

  • £100-300K of debt (or equity, if this is applicable)
  • 5 year loans with interest only payments for the first 3 years
  • Unsecured funding (and the most junior ranking in a capital stack)
  • Interest rates ranging from 3% to 8%


What are the eligibility criteria for organisations?


  • Legal structure: must be a registered charity, CIC or community benefit society
  • Size of organisation: must have less than £15M in assets and less than 250 employees
  • Excluded trading activities: nursing homes, trading in property, providing finance
  • Revenue: Ideally have £500K of earned revenue (i.e. not from donations and grants) in the past year or forecast for next year


If eligible and interested - who should I contact for more information?


Please contact Social Finance at or, or call 020 3586 1808


Cambridgeshire County Council's Innovate & Cultivate Fund.


Cambridgeshire County Council is pleased to announce that bookings are now open for the Innovate & Cultivate Fund Advice Session on 24 September, 9:45am-12pm at March Community Centre.  Please book here


The fund supports initiatives that strengthen our communities and reduce pressure on County Council services, thereby giving a return on investment.  Council services that are inviting applications include adult social care and children & families services.


The fund is open to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations based in and outside of Cambridgeshire, and public sector organisations in Cambridgeshire.


The Innovate & Cultivate Fund has two funding streams: a 'Cultivate' stream for small grants of £2,000-£10,000 and an 'Innovate' stream for larger grants of up to £50,000.


Application forms and further information may be found on the  Cambridgeshire Community Foundation website.  Cambridgeshire Community Foundation can also answer questions about applying for the Fund - or  01223 410535.




First Steps Enterprise Fund


What is the Fund?First Steps Enterprise Fund

First Steps Enterprise Fund (FSEF) is a £300,000 pilot fund to support community organisations.  This fund is managed by Social Investment Business on behalf of the ASDA Foundation


Who is it for?

Community organisations (charities and social enterprises) based in England that are looking to take on their first loan to help them grow and become more sustainable.

Particular preference is given to organisations that work in the following areas:

  • Older people
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Employment for young people

What can I apply for?

Funding packages of up to £30,000* are available (90% loan and 10% grant). The loan element is charged at 5% (fixed) to be repaid over a period of 4 years with an optional capital holiday for the first year.

*up to £50,000 is available for exceptional cases.

Am I eligible?

This programme is open to community organisations that:

  • Are based and work in England
  • Have been operating for at least one year
  • Can provide evidence of need for and benefit to their local community.

How do I apply?

The first step is to fill out the online Expression of Interest.

If you meet the fund's criteria we will call you for a chat about your proposal. This will be followed by an assessment visit. You application will then be put to our investment committee.


Impact Loans England


Big Issue Invest has launched Impact Loans England, a new £5 million lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000. The programme is funded by Access - The Foundation for Social Investment, with finance being provided by its partners Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

The Impact Loans England programme is now available to organisations across England with the £5 million to lend over the next three years. The funding is available to organisations keen to do more of the good work they do - whether its buying equipment, hiring new talent, or progressing with business development plans.

Daniel Wilson-Dodd, Head of Lending at Big Issue Invest says, "A lot of great organisations struggle to access small and medium-sized loans, so we wanted to provide support for those exciting social enterprises and charities."

The Impact Loans England programme is a continuation of what Big Issue Invest has been doing over the past few years in other schemes aimed at helping social enterprises grow, often by accessing finance for the very first time.

Email with an expression of interest and someone from the team will get back to you.


Rural Development Programme for England - Growth Programme

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme supports projects that invest in building businesses, creating new jobs and growing the economy in rural areas.


It is open to support food processing, business development and tourism infrastructure projects across the private, public and voluntary sectors for an initial 12 month period.


For more information click here

Reach Fund

A major new initiative to support charities and social enterprises to access the investment they need to grow and diversify their income streams has launched. The two year, £4m Reach Fund will provide grants to organisations who need specific support to be able to take on a loan, and is designed to test a new model of investment readiness support.

The Fund will give a bigger role to social investors in their investment readiness process. A number of approved social investors, called Access Points, will refer charities and social enterprises that they want to invest in, but who are not yet 'investment ready', to the programme.

Charities and social enterprises will receive support from the Access Point to identify the work which will result in them being able to secure investment, and support them with a simple application process to receive a grant. Grants of up to £15,000 will be available.



Crowdfunder and Santander have launched a £200,000 fund for UK's social enterprises.

This presents an opportunity to secure match funding for your crowdfunding campaign


 The Life Chances Fund


The Life Chances Fund (LCF) is an £80m fund which will contribute to outcome payments for locally developed and commissioned Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) projects, in England. It will not subsidise other central government outcomes funds. Development grants will be available to support commissioners in the design of the contract.


The LCF aims to encourage SIBs that support early action to improve people's quality of life and reduce the burden on public services. First 2 policy areas to of focus:



You can download the Expression of Interest form here, edit it in your own PDF viewer, and send it back to before the 30th of September, 2016.

The other themes will be open to applications over the course of 2017. Projects about early years, young people, older people's services and healthy lives will then be considered.   Further information is available on the Life Chances Fund web page.

Santander opens £2.5m small grants programme 

Santander has launched a £2.5m fund for charities and social enterprises working with disadvantaged people. The Discovery Foundation, which launched on 1 March, will provide grants worth up to £5,000 to 'skills, knowledge and innovation' projects across Britain. The funding, which is available for one year, will be made available to charities, community interest companies and credit unions

More information here

Care and Wellbeing Fund

The Care and Wellbeing fund invests in social enterprises providing community based integrated health and social care services, wellbeing and prevention work.  Eligible projects must meet at least three of each of the fund's direct and indirect social impact outcomes:


  • Direct social impact outcomes:
  • Improved health and wellbeing
  • Reduce health and economic inequalities
  • Greater independence and dignity
  • Co-created services with their beneficiaries
  • Indirect social impact outcomes:
  • Replicable approach
  • Building capacity within the local health and social care system
  • Improving financial sustainability of health and asocial care


There are no deadlines or formal application processes, discussions can be held at any time.  For more information click here



Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) has been awarded £3.1 million from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), to set up two LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs) in the Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire Claylands and Greensand Ridge areas.


Businesses and communities in rural areas of the Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire Claylands, and the Greensand Ridge area of Central Bedfordshire and parts of South Cambridgeshire will have the opportunity to apply for funding through the 2015 - 2020 LEADER programme. Match-funded grants of £10K to £80K will be available through a competitive process for projects that create jobs and grow the local rural economy.


For further information click here


ACCESS The Foundation for Social Investment


Access announces its first programme: The Growth Fund. By combining up to £22.5m of grant from the Big Lottery Fund with up to £22.5m in loan funds from Big Society Capital, the Growth Fund helps social lenders make investments of up to £150,000 in charities and social enterprises.


The Growth Fund is now open for  expressions of interest from SIFIs. View  The Growth Fund Guidance and the  Q&As.


Big Issue Invest


If you are looking for finance between £50K  to £1.7m to help scale up your social enterprise/charity Big Issue Invest might be able to help.


Big Issue Invest is the social investment arm of the Big Issue and can help by providing finance, not grants, from unsecured loans to equity investment whatever is best for your organisation.  For further information click here



Third Sector Investment Fund 

TThe Third Sector Investment Fund was re-launched in July 2017.  The Fund invests between £250,000 and £3 million in charities and social enterprises across the UK.  The Fund can support organisations across all social sectors, focused on improving the economic and social well-being of individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. 


Community Investment Fund 


Community Investment Fund  launched in February 2014. The fund invests debt and equity into community based social enterprises and charities in England. The Fund's investors are the Social Investment Business Foundation and Big Society Capital.  The Fund invests between £250,000 and £1m in community based, locally led organisations which are providing essential support and services to improve the well-being of local residents, developing the local economy and creating positive social change for all individuals in the community.  Follow the link for more information, to see the eligibility criteria and to submit an Expression of Interest.


Signpost 2 Grants 


Signpost 2 Grants is a new small capital grants scheme being funded and delivered by the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP as a part of their Signpost 2 Grow Campaingn.


Grants of between £2k and £20k are available to local SMEs who are looking to invest in new equipment, new machinery, improvement to their premises, or other capital purchases.  The grants can be used to fund up to 20% of the total project cost, to provide businesses with the extra help they need to grow.


A specialist grant application team is on hand to talk businesses through the eligibility criteria, and the application process.


Find out more by visiting


Un Ltd


UnLtd Through their competitive awards programme offer support for social entrepreneurs at various stages of your journey


Growing Business Fund


The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is calling for charities and social enterprises, as well as small and medium sized businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk who want to grow their organisations to apply for a share of its £12 million Growing Business Fund, supported by the Government's Regional Growth Fund. The grants are being awarded to organisations and companies who are planning to grow and employ more staff within the next 12 months.



The fund provides grants of between £25,000 and £500,000 that is up to 20% of the entire project costs to businesses that have a shortfall in their investment plan and are able to create at least one job for every £10,000 provided by the fund. Funding must be privately matched, for example, own company, banks, trusts and foundations, but not from Government funding.   We are very happy to discuss individual cases to provide some clarity in this aspect.



There is a straightforward application process.  For more information on the Growing Business Fund and check your eligibility, please go to, alternativley please contact



Small Grant Programme, to provide grants of between £5,000 up to £25,000, available to SMEs with similar criteria to the Growing Business Fund.   More information available on



Big Lottery Fund- Reaching Communities


Reaching Communities is aimed at projects helping communities most in need, and so would like to hear from organisations that have a good idea that will bring real imporvements to local communities.


You can contact Reaching Communities regarding whether or not your idea could be funded by them on 01223449000.


Recent examples include £299,841 given to Norwich's Open Youth Trust to fund an out-of-hours youth service.


For more information see here.



Awards for All


Offers grants of between £300 and £10,000 for voluntary and community groups, schools and health orgaisatons and parish and town councils that improve communities, and lives of people within them. For more informaton visit here 



The Rural Community Buildings Loan Fund


The Rural Community Building Loan Fund plays a crucial role in helping community groups renovate, refurbish and construct buildings such as village halls, church halls and community centres.


The £700,000 Defra fund, managed by ACRE, encourages communities to raise funds, knowing a loan could be available to help them meet their target and win funding from other sources.


The average loan taken out by hall committees is around £15,000 - but larger loans are considered. Around 40 loans are live at any one time and ACRE makes around 10 to 14 new loans every year. The interest charged on the loan is returned to the Government, but capital is put back into the fund to support other community buildings.


Click here for further information




Funders in the East


24 funders with a joint annual investment of more than £80 million.


Please click here for a list of funders of various sizes, with some operating on a national basis whilst others target specific counties or geographic areas.  They include lottery distributors, foundations, financial institutions, charitable trusts, even government departments and offer a range of practical and financial support including both grant funding and loans.