Autumn grants landscape 

The vaccine rollout may have allowed a feeling of normality to return, but it’s not quite ‘business as usual’ in the grants world, says Sarah Everson

Having ridden out the worst of the pandemic, some funders are reintroducing funds that stopped accepting applications in 2020. For instance, towards the end of the summer The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund reopened its small grants, and the Foyle Foundation began welcoming applications for capital works projects again.

However, many grant-giving trusts funded from hard hit industries, such as the travel sector, have yet to reinstate their grant schemes. Heathrow Community Trust, for example, is still focusing on the provision of immediate emergency funding to existing grant-holders, rather than reopening for new applications.

Moreover, Covid recovery is still considered a priority by some funders, as they recognise the need to support organisations and communities navigating a path out of the pandemic. The National Lottery Awards for All is continuing to support people and communities most adversely impacted by Covid-19, for example.

‘What if you could promote your project, giving details of the financial support you need, and the funding came to you?’

Other funders such as the Ernest Cook Trust (which creates experiences for young people that nurture an appreciation and respect for the countryside) have shifted focus to take account of emerging needs and trends. The charity’s Outdoor Essentials grant (previously for the provision of wellies and waterproofs) has evolved into a fund to subsidise transport and travel costs to outdoor learning venues. The Ernest Cook Trust says this is in recognition of the vital role outdoor activity plays in supporting mental and physical health, demonstrated during the pandemic.

It’s likely that this theme of embracing the outdoors and nature to boost wellbeing will strike a chord with many funders. Indeed, it could well work in favour of schools that are applying for grants for playground or outdoor learning projects.

Applying for grants can be a time-consuming process, which involves seeking out and applying for funding from each trust individually. Application forms and the supporting information requested will inevitably differ from one submission to the next. So what if you could promote your project, giving details of the financial support you need, and the funding came to you?

Giving platforms such as Neighbourly ( and Action Funder ( are becoming increasingly popular with funders and causes, including schools and PTAs. You simply need to provide details of what you want to achieve and what you need in order to make it happen. Your school is then matched with companies who share your vision and/or wish to support communities in the same locality.

Sir Robert McAlpine launched its Strong Foundations Grant in 2020 and, following the success of an initial funding round in Manchester and Salford, extended its offer in 2021, using newly-launched Action Funder as a means to distribute funding. The B&Q Foundation and the Virgin Media O2 Together Fund use Neighbourly as a conduit for their grant giving. And the benefit doesn’t necessarily end with monetary funding. Businesses registered to these platforms offer their employees’ volunteering time and donations of surplus products too.


More grants information