Guide to applying: Main Fund

Print guide

Priorities - what we fundAudio version of guide to applying

The Main Fund is open to applications for support from across our sectors, which are:

While the Foundation assesses each application on its individual merits, we receive around 3,000 applications a year so we choose to prioritise certain types of work. 

We prioritise work that:

  • Addresses a significant gap in provision
  • Develops or strengthens good practice
  • Challenges convention, taking risks to address a difficult issue
  • Tests out new ideas or practices
  • Takes an enterprising approach to achieving its aims
  • Aims to influence policy or change behaviour more widely

We welcome applications from registered charities and other not-for-profit organisations. We can only fund legally charitable work, that your constitution allows you to do.

We are happy to receive applications for core or project costs, and this includes staff salaries and overheads. Last year, over half of our funding supported the core costs of organisations.

Around 80% of the grants we make are multi-year grants, usually for up to three years, although we will consider applications for longer periods (but rarely beyond five years).

We do not usually make grants to large UK wide charities but make rare exceptions when their size or reach allows them, uniquely, to achieve an outcome that resonates strongly with our interests.  They may, for example, have the credibility to pool the efforts of a large number of stakeholders towards a shared goal and/or exert influence at political level to press home policy change.  We may also consider applications from large charities where their project ideas are particularly innovative or risky and carry the potential for substantial impact.  

Previous Next

View subtitled version of this film

Also see

Our featured grants of work we've funded matching one or more of our priorities.

Explore grants we've made.

Hints and Tips for advice on writing a good application.



You say you only fund work that is ‘legally charitable’ - what does this mean?


The Charities Act 2006 defines a charitable purpose, explicitly, as one that falls within one of 13 descriptions of purposes and is for the public benefit.  The 13 areas are listed at the Charity Commission website.

We fund registered charities and other forms of organisations - however, when funding non registered charities we would still expect the work to fall within the definition of what is charitable.  When funding non registered charities we also need to see a copy of the applicant organisation's constitution.


You require to see our constitution if we are not a registered charity - what is a constitution?


A constitution is a document that outlines the rules that will govern your organisation (e.g. how many trustees/directors will you have, how they will be appointed).  It should cover what an organisation is set up for and how it is run.  Your local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) or other local capacity building organisations may be able to help with developing a constitution, or if there is a membership organisation for your sector.  If you do not have a signed constitution then we will not be able to make a grant to you.


We are a social enterprise/ CIC (community interest company)/ company. Are we eligible for funding?


The Foundation funds work that is legally charitable, but this can be carried out by social enterprises, community interest companies, and companies limited by guarantee. We are highly unlikely to fund CICs limited by shares or companies limited by shares.

We would need to see a copy of your constitution to check that there is sufficient public benefit and protection against private benefit (such as what happens if there are any surpluses or if the organisation closes down). In constitutions we look out for:

  • A minimum of three directors, the majority of whom should not be paid employees
  • The salaries and benefits of employees must be approved by a majority of non-executive Directors
  • In CICs - an asset lock body with similar objectives to the CIC, which is not something we couldn’t fund