Minimum standards

Somerset Community Foundation will only award your group a grant if you meet our minimum standards

Our minimum standards cover 3 things:

  1. Governance
  2. Finances
  3. Safeguarding

We don’t want to turn down your application because your group doesn’t meet our standards. So, under each of these 3 headings we tell you what we expect of your group.

Getting help

You might be reading this as someone just setting up a new group, or you may be part of an established group and you’re not sure if you’ll meet our standards. In either case, then please call us and talk about it. There are also several local groups that can help you:

Another good source of support is NCVO.

Finally, if you are just starting a group now, then we would strongly recommend that you speak to one of the organisations above to get some advice. This will save you a lot of time in the future, especially if you plan to register with the Charity Commission or Companies House.

Governance

Who runs your group and how they run it are important. There are many ways to run your group well, but whatever your approach it must be appropriate for the work you do. The governance section of the NCVO website provides more information.

When you make an application, we ask you to send us your governing document. You might call this your rules, constitution, or your memorandum and articles of association. This document needs to show us how your group is run.

If we don’t think you are governed in an appropriate way, then we won’t give you any money. Instead, we’ll give you some suggestions to improve your governance arrangements.

Governance that’s right for you

How you are run will depend on what you do. We are happy to look at applications from different types of groups, and it doesn’t matter if you have just been set up or if you have been around for many years.

This means you can usually apply if you work or volunteer for a:

Whatever type of group you are, your governance document must:

Notes for community groups

Community groups are unincorporated associations that have charitable aims that benefit their wider community. Your community group must:

Notes for social enterprises

Many social enterprises are registered with Companies House as a community interest company (CIC), or sometimes a company limited by guarantee.

If your group is set up in this way, then we apply some additional standards. These standards are to ensure that you meet the ‘community interest test’. This test requires CICs to act in a way that a reasonable person might consider that their activities are being carried on for the benefit of the community.

Your social enterprise must:

Notes for faith-based groups

We’re happy to consider applications from faith-based groups, but we cannot fund the practice or promotion of religion.

This is because these activities could exclude people from taking part in what you want us to pay for. In other words, you can’t use our money for worship or try to convert people to your religion.

Applications from faith-based groups must benefit your whole community. For this to happen, they must be open to people of all faiths and to those of no faith. We expect you to make this clear on your website and promotional materials that relate to the project you are asking us to fund. For some groups, this may include making a statement about diversity and inclusion. You can read about our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion here.

If it isn’t clear to us that the project you are seeking funding for is open to everyone in your community, then we won’t be able to award you any money. This includes repairs to places of worship where there is no clear evidence that they are used regularly by the wider community.

Notes for statutory organisations

We’re happy to consider applications from statutory organisations, like parish councils and schools, but we cannot fund statutory duties. This means we will not fund things like:

We would prefer Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) to ask us for money, rather than schools, but we know some schools don’t have a PTA. Also, we would only expect a parish council to apply if there are no suitable community groups in your area.

Finance

Because you’re asking us for a grant, we want to understand how your group manages its money. The finance section of the NCVO website provides more information.

When you apply, we ask you to send us a bank statement for your group, and your most recent accounts or financial record. We use your bank statement to check your payment details and to do anti-fraud checks, and you can redact individual transactions if you prefer. We use your accounts to understand how much money your group runs on, how much it spends, and how much money you have in reserve.

If your group has more than 12-months running costs in free reserves then we will not give you a grant, unless you have a reserve policy in your accounts that provides a good reason for doing so. When we talk about free reserves, we mean the unrestricted and undesignated funds available to your group. This does not include funds that are not available for spending such as assets tied up in property.

Likewise, if we think your group will need to close down during the period you want to spend a grant then we may not be able to support you.

Finance that’s right for you

How you prepare your accounts will depend on what type of group you are and how much money you run on.

As a minimum, your accounts must:

And your bank statement must:

Some groups will need extra things as well. But the above list is the minimum we would expect to see from every group that applies to us.

Safeguarding

Keeping people safe is important. But it’s nothing to worry about as long as you’ve given it some thought and taken some simple steps. The safeguarding section of the NCVO website provides more information.

When you ask us for money, we ask you to provide us with your safeguarding policy and procedure. These may be separate documents, or you may have combined them. Whatever format you use, we need to see how you recognise, address, record and refer safeguarding concerns. We read through this information to understand whether safeguarding is important to your group or not.

If we don’t think that you’ve thought about your safeguarding responsibilities, then we won’t give you any money. Instead, we’ll give you some suggestions to improve your safeguarding arrangements.

Safeguarding that’s right for you

What you include in your safeguarding documents will depend on what your group does.

As a minimum, your safeguarding documents must:

Some groups will need extra things as well. But the above list is the minimum we would expect to see from every group that applies to us. Please remember, if you use a model policy, then we need to see that your group has adopted it for local use.


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