New & Updated COVID-19 Funds

27 Mar 2020 Lynn Kennedy    Last updated: 24 Sep 2020

Updates on COVID-19-related Funding 

It's good to see that funders recognise that this is an exceptional situation that will have a massive impact on our sector and want to offer support and flexibility.  We will keep you updated about funders joining the wave of generosity that COVID-19 is provoking from communities across Northern Ireland and providing funding support.

Please note that funds can open and close within a matter of weeks, or even days, so speed is of the essence in applying.  Some funds are also pausing to either allow assessors to catch up with the sheer number of applications or simply to allow the funder to acquire additional funding.     

NB Remember, you can see all these schemes in a one-stop format, (and over 870 more relevant to Northern Irish charities), on GrantTracker, NI's leading funding database.   Subscribe from only £100 a year here


The COVID Social Enterprise Fund is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will aim to distribute £7m of grant funds over the coming months and is designed to support social enterprises as they seek to stabilise and manage cashflow during this difficult period. The Fund will be managed by Community Finance Ireland (CFI) and provide grants of up to £75,000. 

The Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund , in partnership with Business to Arts and Arts & Business NI, will distribute €1million  between 2020 & 2022 to support artists and arts projects across the island of Ireland.  Grants are available from €3,000 – €10,000/c. GBP£2,500 – £8,400. to support or commission artists or groups of artists to work with a partner organisation (e.g. a venue or event, arts organisation, community/voluntary organisation or another funding agency/organisation) in the development of new or existing artwork(s) / arts project(s) that have been adapted due to COVID-19 or are inspired by/respond to COVID-19.

Grants of £20,000 to £50,000 to support organisations set up or run by people with first-hand experience of a social issue, who are trying to create positive change for communities and people who share those experiences. UK-wide.  Will support lived experience leadership, and make sure lived experience plays a key role in shaping how communities move towards recovery and renewal after the impact of COVID-19. They expect to fund between 30 and 40 grants.

ADT supports young people who through volunteering or community service, aim to enhance the lives of others, particularly those most marginalised by society.  To help young people to volunteer in response to COVID-19 they are now offering larger grants of up to £1000.

5.5 million for 2nd round of grants distributed by Homeless Link.  £4.8 million is provided by The National Lottery Community Fund and £680,000 from Comic Relief, which raises money to support people living incredibly tough lives, and will primarily be allocated to charities based in Scotland, Wales and NI  Will provide emergency financial assistance to local homelessness organisations, preventing closure, service cuts or staff redundancies threatened by increased operational costs and a loss of fundraised income due to Coronavirus. It will also support organisations that have needed to expand or adapt their services in light of COVID-19 to support people experiencing homelessness safely and effectively.

The Childs Charitable trust has introduced an Emergency Funding programme to support charities that are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the current pandemic. The trust particularly welcomes applications from Christian based organisations.


The Hope Beyond grants programme aims to enable churches and Christian charities to meet changing needs within their communities, helping them and the communities they support to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Coronavirus pandemic. Grants of up to £50,000 are available, dependent on the cost of your project and the level of need, ranging from 10% to 80% of project costs. 

Grants of up to £25,000 to equip and empower churches and Christian charities to engage more young people more regularly, forging lasting relationships that provide an opportunity for individual, family, church and community flourishing.

A new local grant programme, awarding grants up to £20,000 to projects supporting Armed Forces communities to become less isolated and engage more in their local area.  Grants up to £20k available.  NB The two rounds of funding they are running this year will support local Armed Forces communities as they address the needs that have arisen as a result of Covid-19.

Respond and reimagine grants provide funding to help museums, galleries and cultural organisations respond to immediate challenges connected to the Covid-19 crisis, and offer support to adapt and reimagine ways of working for the longer-term future. Respond and Reimagine Grants offer grants from £10,000 to £50,000. They will consider 100% funding.

Supported by the Department for Communities, the Arts Council of NI has designed this programme to enable organisations to purchase equipment and/or carry out minor works to their premises which will enable them to become functional during the Covid-19 restricted period.  NB All purchases and minor works must be completed by Friday 5 March 2021.

A new grant scheme designed to help ease the pressures that have been placed on all families during the pandemic. Getting children back to school in September is a priority not only for learning needs but to also enable parents to go back to work.   Funding for stationery, Breakfast Clubs/After School Clubs, Uniform Bank Basics, PE Kit Basics (for children only), PPE Needs (for teachers/students & Healthy Holiday Activity - October Half Term & Christmas Holidays (a prepared packed lunch/meal and basic activities only)

The Austin and Hope Trust gives grants to UK registered charities towards projects carried out in the UK.  In light of both COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter.  Rounds 3 & 4 for 2020 will therefore focus on older people and BAME.  They are still committed to funding projects supporting the Homeless and Refugees and Asylum Seekers in 2021, but expect to support additional priorities.

Every three months, £250,000 is shared equally among their UK employees to donate to the forward thinking projects that matter to them most. Each charity can apply for up to £50,000. In addition to the usual 2 key funding areas of community resilience and financial capability and inclusion.  

A new £400,000 funding pot from Belfast City Council for businesses, social enterprises and charities with grants of £500 to £2500 to cover costs associated with COVID-19 adaptations, such as changes to internal and external layouts to help with social distancing, sanitisation stations, signage, awnings or canopies, collection and delivery points, outdoor seating or heating and barriers.  

The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund is now open, with National Lottery funding available to exhibitors across the UK. It will support activity to re-engage audiences with collective, big screen film experiences at film festivals, mixed arts venues, and both community and traditional cinemas.

Offers a cash award and security products to community projects to help secure their success.  During the current national situation, Burg-Wächter is offering free security kits for community properties, equipment or outdoor areas that need extra security at this time and have limited funds to meet these needs.

This fund provides small grants of up to £2000 to local community and voluntary organisations to deal with emerging issues in local communities as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus.  UPDATE Strand 4 of the Covid -19 Community Support Fund opened for applications on 7th September 2020 @10am.  It will close when all funds are exhausted.

Grants of up to £15,000 to support LGBTQ+ organisations and groups across the UK in their vital role in supporting LGBTQ+ communities through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.  Funding is through the £585,000 fund from Comic Relief, raised from ‘The Big Night In’ and the grant scheme will be managed by Metro Charity, with the delivery partner in NI being The Rainbow Project

Thanks to the National Emergencies Trust, a total funding pot of £350,000 is available to LGBT+ non-profit groups, organisations and projects. The funding is available to address the additional needs of LGBT+ people and communities most adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and to support and strengthen LGBT+ organisations that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A new fund from the UK insurance and long-term savings industry, launched 18th May. Working in partnership with the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), National Emergencies Trust (NET) and others. Aiming to raise £100 million to help those most affected by COVID-19, with £82.5 million already having been pledged.  NB Please note that this fund is not open to applications as it will use other partners like CAF and NET to distribute funds raised.

Funded by DAERA, the key aim of this Programme is to assist in tackling poverty and social isolation within rural communities across NI.  Micro Capital grants of between £200 and £1,500 are available to rural community-led, voluntary organisations for projects tackling issues of local poverty and / or social isolation.  Includes COVID-19 related projects.   Managed by individual rural support networks across NI.

Grants of 1K to 20K to organisations working to build better relations within and between traditions in NI, between North and South, and between Ireland and Britain.  For this year, it is important that organisations clearly and explicitly incorporate the impact of Covid-19 restrictions into their applications.

The Enkalon Foundation will move the focus of their modest funding pot to charities and community organisations helping people who are isolated and vulnerable in their local communities at this difficult time. As a small funder they focus their funding based on their core objectives in the former Antrim Borough Council area. All potential applicants need to contact the administrator directly with an outline of the new or existing project

Update: they will be making an additional £16 million of funding available this year in response to COVID-19.  £14 million will be in fast-response grants for organisations they currently support across all of their sectors: the arts, children and young people, environment, food and social change. £2 million will be for contributions to emergency funding schemes in collaboration with others.  They are currently closed to new applications so that they can concentrate support on the organisations they already fund.  They had planned to reopen their new grant programmes (in line with their new strategy) in May, but this has now been delayed until September.

The “Recover” Grant Aid programme will provide local organisations with the opportunity to seek financial assistance to support their recovery and reanimation of activities in line with the NI Executive’s five stage Coronavirus recovery plan.  (Average grant amount: £500)  Any activity should be considered in line with up to date government guidance. Please refer to the NI Direct website for guidance

Established by the Impartial Reporter in partnership with The Fermanagh Trust, with donations of over £10,000 raised by the local community.   Open to organisations and agencies in Fermanagh who need support to improve the well-being of health and social care and home care personnel including volunteers. Focussed on providing support that is needed for those workers throughout our healthcare system to help them to stay safe. Includes those working in hospital, residential settings and those providing community, home-based services to our elderly, ill and vulnerable, including private and not for profit contracted services.

The aim is to get more people eating healthily, strengthen our communities and reduce experience of loneliness and social isolation.   Offering small grants of £150 from June 2020 to April 2021. The grants are to support community led food growing, cooking and sharing activity and Get Togethers.  

The Community Grants Programme will support charities to REACT to the COVID19 pandemic, PREPARE to reopen services or adapt their services accordingly, and to RESTORE/RENEW in order to deliver what may be for many a new way of life. If you feel your proposed project can commence within the next three months, you are eligible to apply to the Foundation or support. They will continue to get decisions out quickly for COVID related projects.

Communities across Mid and East Antrim will now be able to access critical financial support during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic situation after Council agreed a funding lifeline of £100,000 to assist its citizens.  To qualify for a grant of up to £1000 under this Scheme, applicants must be formally constituted with a current committee and based in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area.  UPDATE - The current budget has been fully allocated and applications to the COVID-19 Community Grant Scheme are currently closed, but registered Community Food Banks will still be able to apply for a limited amount of funding remaining.

For the Challenge, Movember is looking for digital/technology-based solutions that are being utilized to maintain men’s social connections and manage their isolation while needing to be physically apart. They are aiming to address the mental health risks of vulnerable men by exploring innovative solutions that can potentially be scaled for long-term impact.   £ !.86 Million is available for the UK.  

The National Emergency Trust (NET) has made £1.5 million of funding available to support grassroots Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) across the UK, who have found it difficult to access funding, to respond to the Covid-19 needs of Disabled people. The funding is being administered and distributed in NI through Disability Action NI.  The minimum you can apply for is £1,000 and the maximum is £25,000.

Grants of £500-£1500 to assist local community organisations in alleviating the impacts of the Covid-19 [Coronavirus] pandemic within their local community.  Priority areas for the fund include Food poverty, Financial hardship, Connectivity challenges and Support for those identified as “Vulnerable Groups” under Public Health Agency guidance

Now offering £65 million for two new rounds of grants: £30 million through Community Partnership Grants and £35 million through Recovery Grants.  The charity, whose membership comprises more than 230 NHS charities across the UK, has allocated the funds to all member charities and is inviting them to apply for funding from its Covid-19 Appeal from 1 September.  Community Partnership Grants recognise the profound impact of the pandemic on all communities outside NHS settings such as hospices, community healthcare and social care, and grants will fund projects through public or voluntary sector organisations.  Recovery Grants will help tackle the longer term effects of Covid-19 and support hospitals in preparation for any second wave.

The Petplan Charitable Trust (PPCT) has joined together with World Horse Welfare and the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) to create a Covid-19 Equine Rescues Emergency Fund.  The fund is to help smaller equine welfare organisations across the UK who are being significantly impacted by the current crisis.   The maximum grant will be £5,000 with the expectation that the average grant will be around £2,500.

The Rank Foundation has temporarily suspended its major grants programme to focus on the immediate operational needs of its network. The Foundation has launched two funds to help existing network and current grant recipients:

  • The Emergency Fund is for immediate grants of up to £750 to purchase equipment, technology or memberships;
  • The Resilience Fund will provide grants to cover cashflow, fundraising and loss of income, and to help with increased demand for services.

Initially, funding will only be available to the Foundation’s RankNet members, but public access may be given at a later date.  They are currently reviewing their Pebble Grants programme criteria to allow for wider, public access. Their major grants programme will be suspended for the moment in order that they focus their attention and resources on meeting the more immediate operational needs of their network.

They are relaunching their popular Small Grants programme in a slightly different format to 2019. For this round they have increased the minimum amount that can be applied for to £20K and the maximum amount to £50K.  They particularly encourage applications that respond to changing road use and emerging road safety issues as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. All applications must include a focus on evaluation of effectiveness.  The total funding pot is £300,000.  

The Resilience & Recovery Loan Fund (RRLF) is being run by Social Investment Business (SIB) with an initial £25m investment and support from Big Society Capital..  It  is a new fund for social enterprises and charities who are experiencing disruption to their normal business model as a result of COVID-19. It was established to make an existing government scheme (the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) more easily accessible to charities and social enterprises.  The £25m is part of a wider package of support announced by Big Society Capital.

Support Adoption For Pets provides funding to pet rescue organisations for purposes which make a real difference to the welfare of UK domestic pets in rescue and aim to reduce the number of domestic pets in rescue.  Their grant programme has been redeveloped to support rescues throughout the short and medium-term impact of the Coronavirus.

Part of the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, the Positive Pathways programme will award fixed grants of £35,000 for projects developed by and for veterans. Projects should aim to improve veterans’ mental health and wellbeing by getting veterans out and active.

A new local grant programme, awarding grants up to £20,000 to projects supporting Armed Forces communities to become less isolated and engage more in their local area.  Grants up to £20k available.  This year, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, they will be particularly welcoming applications for projects that help Armed Forces communities move to the ‘new normal’ while continuing to support local needs and reduce isolation.

The Barclays Foundation have announced a £100 million COVID-19 Community Aid Package - The package consists of two strands. £50million will be donated to charities chosen by Barclays and £50million will be donated by matching their employees' personal donations (individual organisations cannot apply for this funding. The money will be disbursed principally in the UK, but also in Barclays’ international markets, including the USA and India.

Aims to provide financial assistance (tiered levels of awards depending on the childcare provision offered and the opening/operational dates following endorsement from the HSC Trust. Administered by Early Years – the organisation for young children on behalf of the Department of Education.  UPDATE On Friday 18 September 2020, the Minister has increased the award for childminders by £300 for the July to August period. This means that those childminders who successfully applied previously are entitled to receive an additional £300. 

All funding decisions for the next six months (up to £300m of National Lottery funding) will be devoted to addressing the current crisis. In addition, they are accelerating the cash part of this funding as much as they can, so that they can get money to where it needs to be. This is not new money, but it will be faster money.

The National Emergencies Trust launched an appeal to raise funds to help local charities to support those individuals suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The money raised is now available through the Community Foundation for NI's Coronavirus Community Fund - see above.   It released £2.5m to community foundations on 26th March.  (NB There is no separate fund.)​

Thanks to Co-op funding, they are now offering a dedicated package of free Covid-19 support for all forms of community business – including woodlands, farms, bakeries, pubs and shops, as well as those developing groups that have been affected by the pandemic.   Includes support and guidance on developing short – medium term cash flow, reviewing business plans, applying for funding, upholding good practice governance and utilising community shares and accessing government support.​

A capital fund that awards up to £5,000 to theatres across the UK run by charities and not-for-profits that can clearly demonstrate the value capital improvements to their theatres would make to their work in local communities.  In response to COVID-19, they have repurposed this scheme to help theatres cover the additional costs of reopening after several months’ closure, including making adaptations for increased hygiene and social distancing measures.

The Volant Trust accepts applications from charities in the UK and internationally that demonstrate a strong focus on alleviating social deprivation and helping vulnerable groups who have been particularly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Applications for medical equipment and the production or distribution of PPE will also be considered.  Grant levels are at the discretion of the trustees, with no minimum or maximum amounts publicly set.  (NB The Volant Trust's usual open grant programmes centre on Scotland, but this fund is UK-wide)

Open to individuals or organisations presenting an innovative concept, product or service that will have a positive social impact on a community. This can include projects or ideas developed during the coronavirus outbreak with potential for long-term impact, with the Prize’s criteria updated to reflect this.  There are two categories: The William Sutton Prize for Social Innovation and The William Sutton Prize for Placemaking and Affordable Housing Design.  Both offer a prize fund of up to £20,000.


Grants for sports clubs to improve facilities, purchase new equipment, gain coaching qualifications, and generally invest in their own sustainability. In 2020 they have increased the maximum grant available to help ensure that clubs can continue during and beyond the pandemic.  Grants of £/€500, £/€1,000, £/€2,500 and £/€5,000, with the highest two grant levels going to clubs experiencing hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.

Administered by Groundwork NI, the NEW COVID-19 Recovery fund aims to support communities within the Area of Benefit of ESB windfarms. The fund is open to initiatives and activities addressing the aftermath impact of coronavirus in the community.  Suggested awards of £1,000 per application.

The Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation is continuing to accept applications for funding from: i) charities who are struggling to survive funding crises during the Covid-19 pandemic, and (ii) charities who are seeking funding for future projects/activities.

Funded by M&S Family (including M&S Bank and M&S Energy), Lidl, Aldi, Danone UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola European Partners this new fund supports community organisations helping those most at risk during the Coronavirus crisis.  The partners have committed a combined total of almost £500,000 to the Fund, to provide immediate micro-grants to community organisations that are helping the people most affected by the outbreak, including the elderly, those on low incomes and people at risk of food insecurity.  They have now reached the maximum number of applications that they can process, therefore the fund is currently closed for new applications.

Currently inviting customers to nominate a local charity, group or cause for a Community Grant of up to £2,500 to help them to continue providing support to those affected by the Coronavirus, or who themselves are struggling to maintain their usual services. Examples for nominations might include foodbanks, support groups or homeless charities. Have already helped more than 200 good causes deliver projects such as helping disability charities invest in their resources, and community groups tackle isolation amongst the older generation. Nominations for this round closed on the 12th May 2020.

Grants of approx. 25-75K focused on the needs of specialist social welfare legal advice organisations. Aim to help them respond to COVID-19, with flexible support so organisations can respond to the challenges in ways that they feel best meets their needs but for which they do not currently have the funds.  This could be about ‘keeping the doors open’, making the necessary shifts to home working, maintaining services, adapting services to reach people in new ways and at greater scale, supporting the wellbeing of staff, or a combination of these and other responses

The Elton John AIDS Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund is looking to support community-based organisations to implement lifesaving interventions to help mitigate adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV response efforts for key population communities around the world.

The Transition Fund is the next phase of RAFT, The Fore’s response to COVID-19, which began with their RAFT Immediate Response Fund (now closed).   In Autumn 2020, a 2nd round of funding offered unrestricted grants of up to £15,000 to help small charities and social enterprises plan for the longer term and gain a stronger footing in a post-coronavirus world.  Round 2 has now closed and details of further rounds are awaited) 

by Lynn Kennedy

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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