Grants of up to £10,000 to help local charities and community groups during the next 6 to 9 months of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Somerset charities and community groups have responded in astonishing ways to the coronavirus outbreak.
Between April and June, we awarded over £400,000 so you could help the most vulnerable people in our county.
Much of the shock has now faded, emergency responses are helping most of those who need them, and you have changed the way you work almost overnight.
But enormous challenges lie ahead.
Over the next three months we’ll be bringing together funds from our local donors, the National Emergencies Trust and other national donors.
We want to use these resources to help local charities, community groups and social enterprises continue their vital work in Somerset.
How much is available?
It’s important that we’re transparent about our role over the second half of 2020 and into 2021.
We simply won’t have enough funds for everyone who needs a grant. In total, we aim to award around £1 million between now and the end of 2020.
The largest grant we expect to award in most cases is £10,000, but we can consider requests up to £20,000.
Awards over £10,000 will only be made for:
- strategic interventions operating over a larger area
- projects focussing on particularly vulnerable people
- partnership applications from groups working together
Please contact us first if you want to request over £10,000.
We expect our average grant to be between £5,000 and £10,000. Please take this into account when preparing your application.
What are we able to fund?
Our aim at this stage is simple. We want to support small charities, community groups and social enterprises so that they can respond effectively to the changing needs in their neighbourhoods and communities.
That means we will consider requests for projects that can address the needs of the most vulnerable people over the coming six to nine months.
You can include changes that you need to make to your organisation (i.e. digital tools or skills) as part of your request for project funding.
And within your request for project costs, you can also include a proportionate contribution towards your core costs or overheads (sometimes called full cost recovery).
In addition, we recognise that you may have lost unrestricted income due to the coronavirus outbreak and that this may reduce your ability to run your project effectively. If you can demonstrate how you have lost income due to coronavirus, then up to 40% of your total request to us can be for core costs. For example, if your project costs are £5,000 then you can apply for up to £7,000 in total (£5,000 project costs and £2,000 core costs), but only if you can demonstrate how you have lost income as a direct result of the coronavirus.
A note on unrestricted grants
We know that many charities and community groups have lost income from other sources because of coronavirus, and we still aim to offer unrestricted core grants to help organisations replace lost income where this has undermined the long term viability of essential services. However, the funds available to us at this point must be focused on frontline services.
As more funds become available to us, we hope to be able to respond to requests to replace lost income with unrestricted grants. We hope that will be in September, but we will provide further updates as they become available. This may include offers of social investment (blended loans and grants) depending on the circumstances.
If you are facing immediate financial difficulty, then please let us know anonymously by completing this short form. We will use what you tell us to try and raise more unrestricted funding for Somerset.
What are our current priorities?
We’ll prioritise applications that can show a positive impact on vulnerable people, including those who may have lost their jobs and fallen into debt as a result of coronavirus. We expect most of our funding to benefit the following groups:
- older people living on low incomes, including those who continue to self isolate.
- adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or pre-existing medical conditions.
- children and young people who have had their education disrupted.
- people struggling with their mental health, including following bereavement.
- people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- people living in more remote rural communities.
We are particularly keen to provide grants where a group is:
- led by and for the people they support, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME); deaf and disabled; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) and women.
- working together with key organisations in the area to provide a joined-up solution.
- following a proven model of delivery, or
- developing a new approach that can fill a gap and make lasting changes.
Please note that we may update these priorities from time to time. These updates will reflect any changing needs we have identified in the community.
Who can apply?
The Fund is open to:
- community groups.
- social enterprises.
- other not-for-profit organisations.
- parish or town councils (if there are no appropriate charities or groups in the area).
Those who have an established presence in Somerset are our clear priority. We expect most of our funding to be awarded to those with an average turnover of under £300,000. It is very unlikely that we will award a grant to an organisation that normally has an income of more than £1 million.
We expect applicants to have:
- a board of trustees or a management committee with at least three unrelated members.
- a bank account in the group’s name with at least two signatories.
- appropriate policies and insurances, including safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.
We may still be able to support you if you do not have these things in place. Please contact us first before applying and we will discuss the situation.
Note: we do not cover North Somerset or Bath & North East Somerset. If you are based in those areas, then please contact Quartet Community Foundation.
There are also Community Foundations in our neighbouring counties of Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire. If you work in more than one area and are applying to more than one Community Foundation, then please let us know in your application.
Who can’t apply?
We cannot support individuals directly. We also cannot award a grant to a group that then distributes it to individuals as financial support. This means we cannot contribute to hardship funds.
We will not support:
- activities that are a statutory duty.
- activities that have already taken place.
- sponsorship or fundraising events.
- groups that have more than 12 months running costs in free reserves.
- promotion of religion (although secular ‘open-access’ programmes led by faith-based groups can be considered).
How long are grants for?
Grants are being awarded so local charities, community groups and social enterprises can continue to support vulnerable people over the coming year.
We expect all our grants to be spent within 12 months, and in many cases within 6 months. We expect that there will be opportunities to apply for further funds at a later date.
How do I make an application?
Applications should be made via an online application form, which can be accessed using the link below.
If you are unable to access the online form, then please contact us and we will support you to make your application in another way.
The form allows you to save draft versions of your application and return to it later (via an email link sent to your inbox).
The form requires you to complete a short series of questions about your group and your work. You will be asked to provide:
- the contact details of someone who can endorse your work if you are a new group.
- a simple budget.
- a list of your trustees or management committee members, including their addresses.
- a recent bank statement.
- your safeguarding policy.
If you are unable to provide any of these documents at this time, then please contact us.
How do we make our decisions?
Applications will be considered fortnightly. If you are successful, we expect to pay grants within three days. As a guide, we expect to make all decisions within one month of receipt of your application.
The panel will consider your:
- track record of funding with us, including the quality of past reporting.
- ability to evidence the impact of your work.
- value for money.
- efforts to work with others to avoid duplication.
Depending on the nature of your application it may be necessary for us to take a closer look at your:
- financial position before the outbreak, including the range of funding sources you relied upon.
- plans and objectives for the coming six months, including any financial projections you can provide us.
As such, we would recommend that you attach your draft financial figures to March 2020, if they are available. This could be as simple as your 2019/20 income, expenditure and reserve position.
Also, due to the requirements of our funders we may require additional information to comply with anti-fraud requirements.
Because of the need to award grants quickly, decisions will be made by staff and trustees from Somerset Community Foundation.
To help us in our decision making we have:
- appointed Spark Somerset’s district level Voluntary Sector Advisors and the Community Council for Somerset’s Diverse Communities Team as advisors to the fund. This will help us to share local insights and knowledge from around the county.
- scheduled regular thematic workshops with sector leaders on issues such as homelessness, isolation and loneliness, young people’s mental health etc. This will help us gain current, in depth understanding of needs in the county.
- scheduled monthly Somerset Funders’ Forums with representatives from the county and district councils, the National Lottery Community Fund and others. This will help us maximise the benefits of the funding in the county.
Note that we can consider requests from established groups that we have a funding relationship with as well as new groups that can offer solutions to local challenges.
Finally, your application may be for an important project in your local community, but we may simply not have enough money available to award you a grant. If your application is turned down, we will tell you why it was unsuccessful, but there is no right of appeal.
If you have any questions, then please get in touch with us, but be aware that it may take longer than normal to receive a response. You can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org or, if that is not possible, 01749 344949.