Before you apply, please make sure that you have read our funding guidelines carefully to ensure that your organisation is eligible and that your work meets our funding priorities.
We receive many more applications than we can fund. Unfortunately, this means that even if your work matches our areas of interest, we may not be able to make a grant.
If you are unsuccessful, we will ask you to wait for one year before you reapply. It is therefore important to make the best case you can at the first stage.
Criteria that apply to all our funding
The following two criteria apply to all applications within each of our three areas of interest:
We prioritise UK-registered charities with an income between £100,000 and £10m. If your income is greater than this we will only consider a grant if you are uniquely placed to help meet our funding objectives. We call this the ‘only they can do it’ test.
We have a special interest in small, niche national charities which shine a light on a particular concern or area of interest.
2 National significance
We want our funds to make a difference, with as wide an impact as possible. This may involve creating art of the highest quality; working across a wide geographical area; or sharing, expanding or replicating successful initiatives. We also recognise it may be necessary to change the system, and that by influencing policy, campaigning or adopting other approaches more far-reaching and longer-term benefits are possible.
National significance may look different in each of our categories:
- Arts – the creation of new work in itself has the potential to create a national or international legacy to inspire others. Using excellence as a key criterion is designed to strengthen and widen impact, thus demonstrating UK-wide significance. Partnerships, whether cross-art form, cross-sector or geographical, may also enhance this significance, and touring may contribute to a national footprint.
- Environment – certain species and habitats have national significance in themselves, due to their rarity. Some organisations occupy a distinctive, national niche; alternatively, the issue being tackled may be relevant to all or a large part of the UK. We also consider the biodiversity of the UK Overseas Territories to be of national and international importance.
- Social Action – we look to support organisations whose work is rooted in practical experience and applied at a national or UK level. This significance may result from the importance of the subject tackled or the approach taken.
More information about our approach to funding work in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is in the FAQ section, later in this document.
We are also looking for:
- Effectiveness and impact – a good understanding of the needs being met and how best to tackle them; awareness of how this relates to and complements the work of others; effective systems to monitor and review progress; a culture of trying to do better; an eye to identifying problems and preventing their recurrence; and being alert to opportunities to widen impact.
- Strong governance and management – an engaged board; well-qualified people and leadership; a thorough understanding and oversight of finances at all levels; and awareness of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Partnerships – organisations that are well connected, understand how they fit within their world and how they add value, and work well with relevant others.
- Good use of volunteers – whoever the volunteers are - from professionals to local communities - we are looking for best practice.
Core funding has long been our signature, but we are also happy to make grants for projects or programmes.
ARTS: Creators and Curators
We believe arts and culture have the potential to enrich and transform lives, and we recognise its inherent value and unique effects. We will fund organisations that nurture, incubate and commission those people who make and curate work.
What we fund
We concentrate our Arts funding under two separate headings:
- Creators in the performing arts – we focus on the creation of the highest quality, nationally significant work, by funding organisations which collaborate with, commission or otherwise support artists to create new or re-imagined work. We prioritise applicants from outside the capital, but do consider those based in London where the proposal would bring significant benefits elsewhere. (Organisations can apply at any time under this heading.)
- Curators in museums and galleries outside London – we aim to strengthen those institutions that focus on making use of curatorial skills to attract a wider public. (This is an annual programme with its own funding guidelines and decision-making process; please see our website: www.ellerman.org.uk/apply-for-funding/museums-and-galleries-fund for the latest information.)
What we are looking for in the performing arts:
Organisations that do some of the following:
- organisations with new or original work at their heart
- track record of producing excellent work
- exciting, fresh and imaginative ideas and models of working
- regional work that is valued and recognised nationally and internationally
- integration of emerging talent and artist development into the artistic programme of work (i.e. developing an individual is not the organisation’s main or sole focus)
- an understanding of actual and potential audiences and how the artistic plans relate to them.
ENVIRONMENT: People and Planet
We believe that a healthy and well-functioning environment is essential to the health and resilience of people and nature. Our aim is to contribute to greater harmony between people and the planet, through the protection, restoration and enhancement of the natural world. We are interested in organisations that understand the interdependence of communities, habitats and species and apply this in their thinking and practice. Often it is the system that has to change, so we will also support those working to influence government and the market through policy, advocacy and campaigning work.
What we fund:
We concentrate our Environment funding under two main headings:
- Protecting the seas – safeguarding and restoring the marine environment, through more and effectively managed protected areas; ocean recovery; engaging coastal communities; reducing overfishing and tackling other harmful effects of human activity on the sea, such as pollution.
- Creating richer, more sustainable places on land – building healthier ecosystems in urban or rural settings, through better management of these areas; experimenting with or linking together habitats; large-scale interventions that help restore places of special significance. We will also support work to reduce or prevent damaging effects of human activity, such as climate change, air pollution or pesticide use.
Our focus is in the UK and UK waters, and we are keen to support work in the UK Overseas Territories (on land and in the ocean). For work in the Overseas Territories, we welcome applications from UK-based NGOs with local partners, from organisations based in the Overseas Territories, or through a conduit in the UK.
What we are looking for:
Organisations that do some of the following:
- seek to improve the natural environment
- understand both the significance of habitats for human wellbeing, as well as the impact of people on nature
- look for sustainable solutions by ensuring that the livelihoods and economic needs of local communities are integrated into their thinking and strategy
- work collaboratively
- work in an evidence-based way
- tackle causes as well as symptoms.
SOCIAL ACTION: Championing Change
We aim to help create an inclusive society where all can thrive, by supporting organisations which work to create positive changes at a systemic level.
We believe people can create change, and will focus on individuals and organisations coming together to tackle disadvantage, divisions and inequality. We also believe that meaningful relationships are central to a shared sense of identity and community. We are interested in organisations which share these beliefs and work to ensure that individuals, community groups and national bodies connect with one another, and are listened to by government and the agencies that shape our lives.
What we fund
We want to support those with ambition to achieve positive change at scale while also creating benefits for those involved. We will therefore concentrate our funding in pursuit of a thriving society on work which:
1. Improves systems through policy, advocacy and campaigning – through building bridges between people and the establishment by creating opportunities for contact and dialogue; enabling those with experience of an issue to have a voice on what matters to them; ensuring professionals and their organisations listen and respond; using this communication to advocate or campaign for improving policies, practices and systems.
2. Actively involves those with personal experience of the issue tackled – reflecting our belief that those closest to an issue understand it best. This means both people with direct personal experience of a problem, and those who have expertise and insight from working alongside them. A high priority will be finding new ways to draw on these experiences and skills, and engaging them in identifying and working on the change they want to bring about.
We expect a variety of individuals and communities experiencing a range of inequities and discrimination to benefit from our funding. Given this broad canvas, we will prioritise work which tackles the greatest barriers created by disadvantage, divisions and inequality.
What we are looking for
- are rooted in practical experience, rather than working exclusively on policy
- understand the need to build people’s confidence and skills so they are ready to engage with others
- value, promote and learn from the experience of those they support
- do not shy away from the unpopular or difficult cause
- seek to tackle causes as well as symptoms.
Preparing and submitting your application
To support with developing your application we have summarised our two-stage application process below. We have also provided a detailed overview of what information we require for both stages here.
1. Please complete a two A4 page proposal using the following headings:
- A brief summary of your organisation’s aims and activities
- How your proposal meets our requirement that the work is of a national significance (explained more here)
- What you would like us to fund and why you are well placed to do this work
- How your proposal fits the criteria for the relevant category you are applying under
2. Ensure you have a copy of your most recent annual accounts to hand.
- You will need to upload a copy of your most recent audited accounts
- If the year-end date of your accounts is more than 10 months ago, we will also ask you to upload your latest management accounts
- If your accounts show a significant surplus or deficit, high or low reserves, we will ask you to provide a brief explanation
3. Create an online account and upload your first stage proposal and financial information.
Please go to our online portal here to create an online account. You can then upload you first stage proposal and financial information.
We make funding decisions throughout the year so you can apply at any time. However, if you are applying to the Museums and Galleries Fund there is an annual deadline and separate application process, so please check our website here for details.
Once you have created your online account and uploaded your first stage application you will receive an instant confirmation.
If your application proceeds to second stage, we will ask for a more detailed proposal and additional information. Then we will arrange to meet you to find out more about your work.
At this second stage we aim to make a decision within three months. If your application takes longer we will be in touch.
Click here for additional information on our application timelines.