Why we turn down applications

Each year we receive over 3,000 applications from across the UK, and only one in ten will be funded. 

We are trying to reduce the number of applications we receive, and the accompanying amount of wasted time and effort. We hope that being clearer about what we turn down will help.

We appreciate the huge amount of work that goes into making a funding application. Please check your answers to these questions before investing time in applying:

  • Is your work commonly delivered elsewhere in the UK?
  • Does it closely match our identified priorities?
  • Can you demonstrate you have the track record to successfully deliver the work?
  • Can you provide evidence of the difference you have made so far?
  • What is the potential impact and reach of your work?
  • Can  you tell us everything we need to know to make an informed decision?
  • If you are delivering public services, can this work be sustained in the long-term?
  • Is there a geographic case for your work?

Is your work commonly delivered elsewhere in the UK?

We turn down 26%, or 624 applications a year for this reason.

With limited funds it is very difficult for us to prioritise between the many excellent, but similar, organisations that apply to us, this is no reflection on the quality or importance of this work. Successful projects will be a strong match to one of our aims and are likely to produce learning which can be shared with/have implications for the wider sector.

Examples of what we don’t fund includes workshop delivery, advice centres, volunteer development, ESOL provision, standard work to improve employability skills, refuges, hostels, night shelters and standard services for homeless people, sports associations, playgroups, play schemes, out of school clubs, supplementary schools, playgroups, youth clubs and general capacity building/ professional development.

Please take a look at our exclusions for further details.

Does it closely match our identified priorities?

We turn down 32%, or 768 applications a year for this reason.

We strongly advise you read about what we fund and what we don't fund. Please don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole - if your work genuinely doesn't fit with our priorities then your efforts may be better focused on applying to other funders.

Can you demonstrate you have the track record to successfully deliver the work?

We turn down 16%, or 384 applications a year for this reason.

We need to see that organisations are best placed to provide the work they do. If your organisation is new, we need to see evidence that you have the right people, partnerships and processes in place. We turn down 16%, or 384 applications a year for this reason.

Can you provide evidence of the difference you have made so far?

We need to see that organisations are best placed to provide the work they do. Evidence of past impact, and how you’ve learned from it, helps us to make this judgement. If your organisation is new, we need to see that your plans are based on sound evidence or learning from elsewhere.

What is the potential impact and reach of your work? 

We turn down 16%, or 384 applications a year for this reason.

With limited funds, we need to make the most effective use of our money. We can only fund work which makes a wider impact - beyond the immediate beneficiaries and life of the project. Community organisations such as youth clubs, community centres, volunteer groups, leisure activities and local orchestras play an important role in people's lives, but we can only fund these if the work is exceptional and likely to influence practice more widely. We cannot fund academic research unless the plans and partnerships are in place to deliver a practical impact as a result of its findings.

Can you tell us everything we need to know to make an informed decision? 

We turn down 6%, or 144 applications a year for this reason.

Your application will need to be specific about the proposed work, the beneficiaries, the organisation’s track record and partnerships to reach our second stage. These hints and tips give you more information about what we look for in an application.

If you are delivering public services, can this work be sustained in the long-term?

We turn down 1%, or 24 applications a year for this reason.

We are realistic about the implications of reduced state funding for public services. Whilst we do not fund statutory services, we will consider applications for other work which has previously been funded by the state if the application can demonstrate a continued public sector contribution, a plan for long-term sustainability and a strong match to our priorities.

Is there a geographic case for your work?

We turn down 1%, or 24 applications a year for this reason.

We try and give priority to work in parts of the UK with limited access to resource and opportunities. These areas might be experiencing geographic isolation, high levels of deprivation, social and/or economic disadvantage.
 

Because of the breadth of our interests and high number of applications we receive, we are unable to provide individual tailored feedback for applications declined at first stage.  Feedback is available for applications declined at second stage.