Coronavirus Community Support Fund

The long-awaited Coronavirus Community Support Fund, made up of £200m of the £750m promised by government 6 weeks ago, has finally launched.

You can read the full details of the fund and how to apply here, but there are some stand out points worth noting:

  • There’s no deadline – grant applications will be assessed as they are received, so don’t hang around, check right now whether you’re eligible, and if you are, apply as quickly as you can.
  • The guidance states that they will: “monitor demand closely and update you on any steps we might need to take to help manage the number of applications we get” which sounds like the fund could close almost at any point depending on the level of applications received.
  • It’s not a separate programme – although it’s separate money from government, it’s been added to the lottery’s existing “under £10k coronavirus funding” programme. This streamlines the process, but also means there aren’t two pots to apply for separately, and no second chance if you’re unsuccessful.
  • They are prioritising “small and medium” sized organisations, but without clarifying what that is. We’ve asked for more information on this and been told:

“We’re using the NCVO definition of small charities/organisations – having an income of £10,000 to £100,000, and medium organisations – having an income of £100,000 to £1 million. We know that small and medium-sized charities are likely to be more vulnerable right now, so we encourage applications from those organisations. However, that does not mean we would not consider applications from larger organisations.”

Make of that what you will, but bear in mind demand will be EXTREMELY high. If you’re a little smaller than £10k or slightly over that £1m threshold it’s probably worth applying, but your chances will probably diminish the further outside that income range you are.

It’s largely what we were expecting to see, but disappointing that it’s taken as long as it has for the government to get to this point, especially when so many other funding programmes have been set up, opened, closed and distributed their money while the sector has been waiting for this one.

DSC CEO Debra-Allcock-Tyler said:

“The frustrating thing is that the £200m from government has been merged into an existing lottery programme. It’s taken the government six weeks to come to a decision that could have been implemented within hours if they’d just given the lottery the money and trusted them to get on with what they do best.

The “ongoing” deadline is also a worry. We understand the pressure to get money out quickly, but it puts pressure on applicants to apply as quickly as possible, rather than as well as possible. It’s also another Friday announcement that is going to force already stretched charity staff and trustees to decide between applying quickly over the weekend, or waiting until next week when there could already be thousands of applications in front of them.”

We’ll keep an eye on things as they progress, but in the meantime, stop reading this, check whether you’re eligible, and if you are, get a move on!