Guidance Notes - Please read carefully     

The purpose of these guidelines is to assist organisations considering making an application to our Improving Lives Fund. We appreciate the time and effort that goes into fundraising, so we hope that this guidance on the criteria provides clear and explicit information, enabling you to be as informed as possible in making an application.  

If, after reading these guidelines, you are still unsure about your organisation’s eligibility or the application process, they are encouraged to contact the National Benevolent Charity to discuss their proposed application / activity.  We aim for our funding process to be transparent and accessible to all.  

Our Organisation Grants Manager, Vicky Oram-Ahern, can be contacted on: or 07855 964625 and is available to support applicants throughout the process.

Aim of our grant-making 

Our aim is to make grants to a wide range of organisations which can demonstrate that their beneficiaries are experiencing poverty (or hardship) and that their project, programme, or organisation aims to alleviate that poverty.   

Who can apply? 

We are particularly looking to fund infrastructure or frontline organisations working with marginalised people.   We will consider proposals from national organisations for specific work or projects in our geographical areas of interest where there are strong local partnerships and where the outcomes have potential to achieve a substantial impact to the local community.   As a registered charity, we can only make grants to support activity which is charitable by law.  Organisations do not have to be registered charities to apply, however they do need to be a not-for-profit and have an agreed constitution.  We will consider supporting social enterprises with general start-up or expansion costs (where there is a sound business plan), but we would not normally support ongoing running costs which should be financed by the sale of goods and services in line with the governance model they have chosen.

What do we fund?

We provide flexible funding.  Our grantee partners are the experts on the ground, and we trust that they will utilise funding in the most valuable way to their beneficiaries.  

By providing unrestricted funding where the need is defined and shaped by the grantee, they can respond to changing needs and priorities.  

We will therefore consider funding core costs such as salaries and general running costs, and we remain open to single or multi-year funding and in exceptional circumstances interim funding.


We make grants to organisations whose activities fall within and are consistent with the Charity's objects.  Grant requests which we do not normally support are:

  • Projects that exclusively serve religious purposes.        
  • Political campaigns and legislative lobbying efforts.
  • Organisations established solely for the relief or benefit of animals or plants.       
  • Retrospective or deficit funding.
  • One-off conferences or events, except where these fall within a wider context that aligns with our charitable objects.

Application process - Bristol 

This programme is closed to new applications as we are committed to working with our existing grantee partners until the end of 2022. 

However, we invite Bristol organisations which can demonstrate that their work aims to alleviate poverty (hardship) to contact us for an informal discussion about future funding opportunities.

Application process - Gloucestershire

Applications can be made via our website or through the Gloucestershire Funders . The Gloucestershire Funders is a collaboration of funders who have come together in response to the uncertainty faced by charities and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.  If you choose to apply via Gloucestershire Funders your application will be reviewed by all members on a fortnightly basis , so you may receive support from another member.  

This is an open rolling programme so there are no deadlines, applications can be submitted at any time.

Application process - Wiltshire & Swindon

Applications are emailed directly to our Organisation Grants Manager.  This is an open rolling programme with no deadlines, applications can be submitted at any time, and they are reviewed on a weekly basis.  We are working hard to reduce the administrative burden on our applicants and grantees.  

We therefore aim to keep the application process simple and streamlined – there is one short form for all applicants to ensure fairness, and this is to be submitted with supporting information which has no set format and is an opportunity for applicants to share their story and needs.  We hope this approach prevents any barriers to applications for those smaller organisations who may not employ professional fundraisers, for that reason we have also provided some guidelines on what you may like to include in this document.  

Alternatively, you may submit a video or a presentation which shows your organisation, and the beneficiary needs clearly.  Our Organisation Grants Manager is available for any questions you may have and to support you through this process.

How much can you apply for? 

The maximum we will award in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire & Swindon is £10,000 per organisation, per year.   

Decision-making process 

We aim to work at pace, maintaining a reasonably quick decision-making process to support applicants.   For applications being taken forward, the next stage in the process will be a phone call.  We will contact applicants to schedule this within a couple of weeks of receiving their application and they will be emailed the questions/areas to be discussed beforehand so that they have time to prepare.     

Following the phone call applications will be assessed against a framework to ensure consistency in the evaluation process and to also ensure alignment with our charitable objects.  Applications will not be reviewed based on grammar or writing style.   

All unsuccessful applicants will receive feedback – via email and/or phone call.  There is no right of appeal.


For grants for up to £2,000, we aim to respond within two months.      

For grants over £2,000 it may take up to three months from the point of application, however, we are usually able to process applications much quicker.   

If you are successful 

Once a grant is approved, we will notify the applicant via email and will ensure that we have all the relevant details for electronic banking.   

For awards over £2,000 we will also send a grant agreement setting out standard conditions of the grant such as purpose/expenditure of funds, accounts, and reporting, return of funding, publicity and acknowledgement, legal compliance, and appropriate policies.

Grantee Reporting 

We aim to be a relational funder with contact that is positive and purposeful, trusting and listening to our grantee partners and being responsive to their needs.  We greatly value the importance of developing effective relationships, to help us remain a flexible and accessible funder and ultimately to strengthen communities, the voluntary sector, and our own knowledge.   

We aim for proportionate reporting that is as light touch as possible.  Reporting requirements will be agreed with our grantee partner at the time of making the award and we will provide clear communication on these expectations within our grant offer letter.  We see the value in open, honest communications, so we may consider a conversation via a phone call or zoom, or a project visit rather than a grant monitoring form.  We will also consider using existing grantee reporting frameworks or some simple guiding and open-ended questions so that we can ensure that reporting is not too onerous on our grantee partners.  We want to shift the balance of power to create more equity in the funder-grantee relationship so we allow reporting to be led by our grantee partners where they can elect their preference for format.  However, we will also collate photographs and stories for use in our own impact reporting.

Please see our latest Impact Report for some examples of recent grants to organisations.


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