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What we fund

Jack Offord © - A woman wearing a white top and trousers wearing a headset looking out at the audience in Ferment at Bristol Old Vic, in the background the words Power Laser are written in blue on a black background

We aim to advance the wellbeing of people, society and the natural world by focusing on the arts, environment and social action. We believe these areas can make an important contribution to wellbeing.

Criteria that apply to all our funding

The following two criteria apply to all applications within each of our three areas of interest:

1 Organisational size and form

We prioritise UK-registered charities with an income between £100,000 and £10m. This focus allows us to use our capacity and resources by supporting organisations that are established and experienced in the work they undertake. 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 (see our FAQs for more detail). If your income is lower than this, then we would expect to see clear evidence that your organisation has managed a turnover of £100,000 previously or is on track to do so soon. Furthermore, if your organisation is at the lower end of our turnover range, then we ask that you consider your request to us as a reasonable proportion of your overall turnover.

2 National significance

We want our funds to make a difference, with as wide an impact as possible, to organisations that are nationally significant. This may involve creating art of the highest quality; working across a wide geographical area; or sharing and expanding 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 and digital output may contribute to a national footprint.
  • Environment – certain species, habitats and/or ecosystems may have national significance due to their relative scarcity and/or the benefits ('ecosystem services') they provide to people. Some organisations may occupy a nationally significant niche because few other organisations cover the thematic area they specialise on. Initiatives which have national reach or reach within the countries that make up the UK, may also be nationally significant. Furthermore, more locally based initiatives which have clear potential for replicability or are scalable to country level may also be considered to be nationally significant. We also consider the biodiversity of the UK Overseas Territories to be of national and/or international importance.
  • Social Action – we look to support organisations whose work is rooted in practical experience, often in more than one locality, and is nationally significant because their work can be applied at an England, Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland level.

More information about our approach to funding work in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is in the Funding FAQs section of our website.

What we look for in an application:

  • Effectiveness and impact – this could mean a good understanding of the needs being met and how best to tackle them; awareness of how your work adds value and relates to and complements the work of others; effective systems to monitor and review progress; a culture of learning, reflection and improvement; and being alert to opportunities to widen impact.
  • Strong governance and management – a diverse and representative organisation with a well-qualified and engaged board and strong and inspiring leadership; a thorough understanding and oversight of finances across the Board and leadership team; and awareness of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Collaborative – this could mean organisations that are well connected, understand how they fit within their world, and work well with others relevant to the work being done.

Core funding has long been our signature and preference, but we can and do on occasion make grants for projects or programmes where the applicant requests this for their own operational reasons, or are over our £10m threshold. Core funding is funding which goes towards the core costs of delivering an organisation’s work. These costs could include:

  • staff salaries, training and expenses
  • day-to-day running costs and operations
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • communications and digital innovation.

If most or all of the activity that your organisation undertakes fits with the relevant category guidelines, you can apply for unrestricted core funding. However, if aspects of what you do are relevant to our categories, then the funding request should be demonstrably directed to the work relevant to the category in question. All applicants should demonstrate a funding need and are not expected to hold excessive free reserves, i.e. unspent, unrestricted or designated funds, unless there is a clear Board approved reason for doing so. We expect applicants to have a reserves policy in place that is being followed.


ARTS: Creators and Curators

Our aim

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:

  1. 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 reimagined 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.)
  2. Curators in museums and galleries – 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 dedicated webpage 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 (foremost) 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

Our aim

We believe that a healthy environment is essential to the wellbeing and resilience of people and nature. Our aim is to achieve greater harmony between people and nature, through the protection, restoration and sustainable use of the natural world. We are interested in organisations that understand the interdependence of people and nature 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 governments, businesses, financial and economic systems and civil society through policy, advocacy and campaigning work.

What we fund:

We concentrate our Environment funding under two main headings:

  1. The Ocean – protection, restoration and sustainable use of the ocean, through more and effectively and equitably managed protected areas; ocean recovery; engaging coastal communities; reducing overfishing and addressing other harmful effects of human activity on, and in the ocean, such as pollution.
  2. Land and fresh waters building healthier ecosystems in urban or rural environments, through effective and sustainable management including implementing evidence-based interventions conservation and restoration; connecting fragmented habitats; and landscape-scale work to protect and restore places of special significance. We will also support work to reduce or prevent the damaging impacts of human activities, particularly climate change, and air, land and water pollution from chemicals and other pollutants.

Our focus is on the UK and UK waters. However, we are also keen to support land and marine-based work in the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs). For work in the UKOTs, we welcome applications from UK-charities working in partnership with local Territory-based NGOs and from charities based in the UKOTs. UKOTs-based charities can apply either directly or through a charity conduit in the UK. For more details on this please see the FAQs, specifically the question: ‘Do you make grants overseas?’.

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
  • seek to take an evidence-based approach
  • tackle underlying causes as well as symptoms.

Social Action

SOCIAL ACTION: Championing Change

Our aim

We aim to help create an inclusive society where all can thrive, by supporting organisations which work to create positive changes at a systems-wide level benefitting wider society.

We believe it is people working together who create change. We are interested in organisations with a track record that tackle divisions and inequity, and who bring together individuals, community organisations and others, including national bodies, to influence 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 does both of the following:

1. Actively involves those with personal experience of the issue tackled – reflecting our belief that those with direct personal experience of the issue/s understand them best and should have the agency and support to use their expertise, understanding and insights to drive forward the organisation’s work. We want them to be able to do this in a supportive environment that is committed to their success. We do not expect disclosures of an individual’s personal experience in applications, if this information is not already publicly known or available. We also value the importance of the expertise and insight of those that work alongside individuals and communities with personal experience.


2. Improves systems through policy, advocacy and campaigning by influencing change and progress on the issues that an organisation is seeking to tackle and securing the rights that are due to the individuals it supports. This could include: collecting and using evidence; connecting people and the establishment; creating opportunities for contact, dialogue and meaningful engagement; or designing and imagining effective strategies and tactics for influencing; and using these approaches to advocate or campa­ign for improving policies, practices and systems.

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 prioritise work which tackles the greatest barriers created by divisions and inequity. We look to fund work that is explicitly focused on the widest possible benefit across different systems, rather than service delivery.

What we are looking for

Organisations that:

  • are rooted in practical experience, alongside their policy work
  • 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
  • are engaging with the unpopular or difficult cause
  • seek to tackle causes as well as symptoms.
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