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Funding FAQs

Scottish Ballet - Filming The Perfect Place © Christina Riley

Here are the answers to some of the most common queries. If you cannot find what you need here, or would like to clarify something, please call us on 020 7930 8566.

Will you support work that takes place in a single UK country?

We fund organisations from any part of the UK whose work has impact across the UK.

Work based in individual countries may be funded where:

  • The work is of UK-wide significance - this may be because of the issue tackled, for example, Scotland has the most substantial marine environment in the UK, or because the work is so exemplary or pioneering that it will be of special interest and relevance elsewhere in the UK; or
  • The work covers more than one UK country - which could be a single organisation working across borders or a partnership of organisations in different countries; for example, an activity in Wales and NI would qualify; or
  • The organisation is working across England.

Do you make grants overseas?

Our Environment category provides grants for work in the UK Overseas Territories, and for marine projects outside UK waters by UK charities.

For work in the UK Overseas Territories we fund UK-based charities working in the UKOTs, and we are also happy to accept direct applications from Territory-registered charities, including through UK-based conduits. We aim to take a nuanced approach and distinguish between Territories based on their respective charity governance systems.

In practice this means the following:

  • NGOs registered in Territories with UK-modelled charity governance systems (Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, and St Helena) will be able to apply directly.
  • Charities registered in Territories which have non-profit oversight systems that are primarily finance-focussed (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Turks & Caicos) will also be considered for direct funding. However, to ensure an extra level of compliance, NGOs from these Territories will be required to show evidence that they have been successfully accepted as the lead organisation on a UK Government Darwin Plus project grant.
  • Given the minimal local charity governance we will not accept direct funding requests from NGOs which are registered solely in the Falkland Islands, and will require applications to be made via a UK-registered charity.

If your Territory is not listed, or if you have any queries regarding the most appropriate application mechanism, please feel free to contact a member of the Grants Team for advice.

When do you fund core costs and when do you prefer to fund a project?

As a responsive funder, we listen to what you judge is important. Our main interest is in supporting organisations whose work matches our funding priorities. We believe that core funding is usually the most valuable contribution we can make. If you think a project grant would be best, you can apply for that instead.

We are aware that a modest core grant will have a limited impact on the finances of larger organisations. If your turnover is close to or over £10m a year, it may be better to apply for a project grant.

Does an application have to fit more than one of your categories?

An individual application or grant does not directly have to relate to all three elements of our aim – relating to people, society and the natural world. An environment grant, for example, might focus on a particular habitat, with the individual and social benefits only becoming evident indirectly or in the longer term.

If you are doing work which fits more than one of our categories, then such applications must be a good match with the criteria of at least one category, with a link to another being a bonus.

What type of work can I apply for under the creators in the performing arts strand?

We tend to fund organisations working in dance, music, opera and theatre that are directly involved in creating the new or re-imagined work, rather than working through partner venues, festivals or other organisations. Sometimes we fund festivals because they commit to creating and presenting new or re-imagined work that has a legacy beyond the festival.

Finally, our priority is to support the artistic excellence of the work, rather than its educational value or social benefit – although we recognise that these are both positive additional benefits. We expect applicants to demonstrate their artistic excellence by providing us with evidence of positive audience feedback, awards and accolades and professional reviews.

When will you fund research?

We recognise that rigorous research and policy analysis can provide the evidence and arguments to advocate for important changes in practice. We prefer to fund this sort of work if it is grounded in real life experience, includes the voices of those affected, and is likely to make a practical difference. When considering such proposals, your track record, expertise, knowledge of the context and understanding of how to effect such change will be important considerations.

Do you fund universities?

Not usually, and not for their core work. Exceptionally, we may consider an application from a specialist unit if you are a centre of excellence and a leader in your field. Your work should:

  • be distinctive and likely to make a practical difference
  • involve partnerships with charities or NGOs
  • have a budget that includes no contribution to overheads
  • strongly match our funding interests.

How much can I apply for?

Our minimum grant is circa £10,000. There is no maximum. Last year our grants ranged from £5,000 to £150,000 and the average grant size was around £100k. To get an idea of the kind of grants we award, take a look at the grants list (www.ellerman.org.uk/what-weve-funded/grants-list) on our website or on 360Giving (www.ellerman.org.uk/what-weve-funded/360-giving).

How long will you make a grant for?

Most of our grants are for two or three years, but as a responsive and flexible funder we are willing to consider different timeframes. The Grants Team is on hand to answer any questions you may have in this regard. As mentioned above, to get an idea of the kind of grants we have awarded in the past, take a look at the grants list on our website or on 360Giving.

When is the best time for me to apply? Do you have any deadlines?

For the majority of applications there are no deadlines and you can apply at any time. We make decisions regularly throughout the year. www.ellerman.org.uk/uploads/201120-Application-Timelines-Explained.pdf

Some work strands, such as the Museums and Galleries Fund have an annual application deadline. Please check the website for more information on these.

How quickly will I know your decision?

We will acknowledge your application within one week.

We have a two-stage application process. We aim to deal with all first-stage applications within 10 weeks, though most people will hear more quickly. On the rare occasion an application takes longer, we will be in touch.

Second-stage applicants are asked to apply within a month of being invited to do so. You should receive a decision within a maximum of three months.

When can I reapply if I have been turned down?

One year from the date of submitting your application.

When can I reapply if I have a grant? Do you provide continuation funding?

In the past we asked grantees to wait for one year after their grant had ended before coming back with a new funding request. However, our experience of providing funding during the Covid-19 pandemic has led us to suspend permanently the need for organisations we fund to take a break before re-applying to us.

Can I discuss my application with you before I apply?

We are always happy to discuss potential applications. Before you get in touch, please read our guidance available here.

Do I have to be a registered charity to apply?

We will only make grants to registered, excepted or exempt charities. However, we will sometimes make an exception if we feel the organisation is uniquely placed to help meet our funding objectives. We call this the ‘only they can do it’ test.

What does it mean when the Foundation says they are a Living Wage funder?

We are a Living Wage Friendly Funder, which means we are committed to tackling low pay by encouraging the organisations we support to pay the real Living Wage.

You can find out more about the Living Wage here. The Real Living Wage is updated annually in November, and as at January 2022 the current rates are £9.90 across the UK and £11.05 in London.

What can I do if I am unhappy about any stage of the application process?

If you have any concerns or comments relating to your experiences through any stage of the application process please direct them to our Head of Grants, Dorothée Irving (dorothee@ellerman.org.uk).

How long will we have to wait before receiving funds after having a proposal approved?

We aim to distribute the first payment of a grant as soon as possible after receiving and approving the required bank details as set out in the offer letter. The only time this is delayed is if there are conditions on the grant, for example: grant is payable upon recruitment to a role.

Who makes the decisions at the different stages of the application process?

The Grants Team perform simple eligibility checks when an application is submitted and may reject proposals at this point if they do not pass these tests. Trustees are responsible for all decisions at the first and second stages and are assisted by the Grants Team, to help them make these decisions

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