How to apply for funding if you’re not a registered charity

A guide to finding and applying for funding as an unincorporated group

Grassroot movements, community groups, and campaign networks are often at the frontline of social change, but when it comes to funding, your options can be limited.

Funders often need to meet high levels of compliance and risk management. This usually means they require applicants to be registered as a charity, non-profit or Community Interest Company (CIC).

Don’t worry though, that doesn’t mean you need to start doing the paperwork to register as a charity.

In this guide for community groups and grassroot movements we’ll take you through the steps to apply for funding even if you’re not a registered charity.

Finding the right funding opportunity

First step is to search for funds or grants that fit your social mission and activities. 

If you’re in the UK, Grants Online is a great place to begin your search. As well as being able to filter grant opportunities by location and area of focus, you can also choose to show only grants that fit your organisational status.

Using a fiscal host

If you have a fiscal host (or fiscal sponsor), you’ll be able to use their legal status to also apply for grants that are open to incorporated not for profit organisations.

Your fiscal host will act as your guarantor, holding the funds on your behalf, and providing legal assurance to the funder that the money is spent according to the funding terms agreed.

Not all funders are able to make grants to hosted groups, so it’s worthwhile checking the funder’s websites (usually in the FAQ). If the information isn’t available then you can always send a quick email to ask their eligibility requirements.

Decide who is going to fill in the application

So you’ve found a grant opportunity that’s a match! What’s next?

It can take quite a lot of time to put together a good application so it’s important to make sure everyone knows in advance what’s expected of them and has time set aside to work on the application.

Gather your evidence

Look carefully at the guidance and application to see what evidence you need. This varies from fund to fund, but often includes bank statements, articles of association and annual report, among others.

If you’re fiscally hosted by our sister organisation, The Social Change Nest, they’ll be able to provide you with much of the required evidence, just let them know what documents are needed and when the deadline is so they can ensure they get them to you on time.  

always scan through the full application process and note what evidence documents you need

If you have direct contact with your service users/beneficiaries (especially children or vulnerable adults) it’s quite likely you’ll need a safeguarding policy.

We’ve put together some guidance on how to do that here. As a rule of thumb, always scan through the full application process and note what evidence documents you need so you are not scrambling to put these together last minute.

Put together your budget

Check your application

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