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.

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

If you’re fiscally hosted by us, we’ll be able to provide the required evidence on our organisation so you can apply. This varies from fund to fund, but usually are things such as bank statements, articles of association, annual report, among others.

We therefore need to know in advance what documents are needed and when the deadline is so we can ensure we get these to you on time.  

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

Want to apply for larger grants? Ask us about our money management for groups

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