Great News from a Great Funder, Halifax Foundation NI

Halifax Foundation NI have developed a new strategy for 2020–2023, ‘A Vision for the Future’. An interview with Brenda McMullan, Executive Director, looks at what this means for the vital work of NI charities.

Halifax Foundation NI is one of NI’s funding treasures.  The Foundation has been supporting disadvantaged groups or those with additional needs within NI to participate actively in their communities since 1985.  Since then they have funded over 10,500 projects to the tune of £37.5 Million, providing a real lifeline for some smaller charities. 

NICVA spoke to Brenda McMullan, Executive Director, to find out more - 

Q) There are 4 new grant progammes.  How did these new programmes come about?

A) Ahead of our new Strategic Plan, we carried out research in the community and voluntary sector with non-profit organisations; recently funded groups and umbrella organisations like NICVA and Rural Community Network who support the sector. We also reached out to groups we hadn’t funded before to address any barriers there may be. The response was fantastic and well received. We then sat down with our Board and developed the four grants initiatives in direct response to what we heard from the Sector.

Q) The application process is now easier.  What's changed? ​

A) We have had a good look at our application process and kept the aspects that made applying to the Foundation a positive experience, for example, we will continue to make contact with our applicants via telephone as groups told us they liked having that interaction. However, application forms are now shorter and more relative to the grant amount groups are applying for. Also, we have widened our eligibility criteria, allowing charities that are non-deemed to apply whilst awaiting their Charity Commission NI registration to come through.

Q) Do the changes mean less or more money can be awarded to organisations?

A) In 2019, we awarded around £1.3m in grant funding. In 2020, we hope to award close to £1.6m in grant funding, 2021 will see around £1.8m so essentially more funding to the sector here in Northern Ireland.

Q) What do you hope the impact will be? 

A) We hope to reach the people who need our help the most! By simplifying our grant process, continuing to provide core funding and by providing larger, longer term grants than before, we really hope to see a positive impact at a grassroots level. 

We also hope to help the Sector as a whole by providing more funding through our Special Initiatives programme - This programme was established to consider projects of a particular value to the third sector at a strategic level and we hope to receive applications that provide much needed training and good governance initiatives for our NI charities.

Q) How has it been welcomed by charities so far?

A) Charities that have engaged with us to date are excited about the new initiatives. We hope to continue to receive feedback from applicants as they work through the application process and look forward to positive and trusting relationships with our grantees going forward.

Q) Who can apply for the new grants?

A) Charities, both deemed and non-deemed can apply for support, including current grant holders and those who are in between grant applications (open to those on a gap having received 3 years consecutive funding in the past). ​

Should a group be unsure, we would encourage them to lift the phone and have a chat with a member of the grants team, who will steer them in the right direction. Alternatively, email us (details below).

Q) So what are the 4 new Grant Schemes?

A) The following grant programmes are now open –


  • Up to £2,500
  • 12 month grant
  • Rolling programme
  • Maximum 4 month turnaround for decision
  • Funding to improve the lives of those who are disadvantaged and/or disabled
  • Aimed at charities with an income of under £1M
  • Evaluated after 12 months


  • £2,500 - £10,000
  • 12 month grant
  • Rolling programme
  • Maximum 4 month turnaround for decision
  • Funding to improve the lives of those who are disadvantaged and/or disabled
  • Aimed at charities with an income of under £1M
  • Evaluated after 12 months


  • Up to £50,000
  • Over 3 years (£20,000 Year 1, £20,000 Year 2, £10,000 Year 3)
  • Programme opening in January, closing on 28th February at Noon
  • ‘Grants Plus’ approach
  • Funding to improve the lives of those who are disadvantaged and/or disabled
  • Monitored annually
  • Aimed at charities with an income of under £1M


  • Aimed at supporting the Third Sector
  • Strategic in nature
  • NI Wide potential
  • Up to £20,000  (£10,000 Year 1, £10,000 Year 2)
  • 2 years

In addition to new funding they also offer many other benefits, including –

DIGITAL SUPPORT  - Grant recipients can apply for a laptop, pc or tablet to support administration via Computer Recyclers UK.

ONE TO ONE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SUPPORT - In partnership with Tony Clarke Accountants, they offer support to make financial procedures more efficient and effective.

A CHARITY MENTORING PROGRAMME   - They can connect you with a skilled Lloyds Banking Group staff member to act as a mentor, gifting their time to challenge and foster personal and professional growth.

To find out more about how your organisation could benefit visit the website or, if in doubt, give the Foundation a call on 028 90323000 and speak to the team or email [email protected]

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