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How to Apply

In this section, you can learn more about how charitable funds work and the support, including grants, that they give to people in financial need.

1. Help to apply for a grant

If you need help filling in the forms, check any guidance the charity has given you. You could also check on the charity's website to see if there is any information on how to fill in the forms. There should also be information about the documents you need to include or refer to, such as bank statements.

Ask the charity

It is also worth asking the fund you are applying to if they can give you any support, such as someone to help you complete the forms.

Some funds have caseworkers or other support staff who can visit you at home to offer support.

Some funds have a grants department or enquiry line that you can contact if you are unsure how to fill in the application.

Any advisers, support workers or health/social care professionals (also known as intermediaries) you have contact with may also be able to help you. Some charities will only accept grant applications through an intermediary, they will often say who this needs to be in their "how to apply" section.

Your local Citizens Advice bureau may be help you with filling in forms or be able to advise about local services that can help.

Depending on your situation, local offices of the following charities may also be able to help you or give you information about what is available in your local area:

  • Age UK - if you are an older person

  • Mencap - if you have learning disabilities.

  • Mind - if you have mental health issues.

  • Health charities for particular conditions

  • Carers centres.

You can also use our Find an Adviser tool to find local advisers who may be able to advise you further  or help you to apply for grants..  

Advocacy Services*

An advocate is a person who speaks up for you and puts your case on your behalf if you have learning disabilities, mental health problems or need help for other reasons that make you vulnerable.

They are independent of social services and the NHS and are not part of your family or one of your friends.

Contact your local council to find out what is available in your area.

You may also find the following information resources useful:

*Definition from NHS UK Guide to Care and Support: Find an advocate (link above)

Updated: February  2019


2. Making an enquiry and application to a charitable fund

Each charitable fund will have their own enquiry and application process that people will need to follow.

However, in most cases there are usually two stages:

  • Making an enquiry to the charitable fund

  • Submitting a formal application for help.

The Turn2us Grants Search provides information on the enquiry and application process for each charity as well as details about how they receive enquiries and applications

You can also make an initial enquiry to some charities using the Turn2us Grants Search online enquiry form. The charity will then contact you to give you more details of how you to make a formal application to them for help.

Making an enquiry 

There are three main ways that funds accept enquiries:

  • Online through Turn2us

  • By applying to them directly using their contact information 

  • Via an intermediary working with people in financial need

Online through Turn2us

Some of the charitable funds on the Turn2us Grants Search accept online enquiries

Applying for help to a charitable fund on the Grants Search that accepts online enquiries involves three  steps:

  • Creating a Turn2us account 

  • Making an enquiry to the charitable fund

  • Making a formal application if they accept your enquiry.

Even if the charity accepts the initial enquiry you make, this does not mean that you will get a grant.  You will have to go through a formal application process first. Then the charity will tell you whether they can help you.

Registering for a ‘My Turn2us’ account

To make online enquiries and applications to charitable funds on our Grants Search database, you need to register for a Turn2us account.

This  allows you to track the progress of any enquiries you have made

Using your account also means that you will not have to repeat the same information when looking for help. If you need to submit an enquiry to another charity at a later date, all the data will be saved and carried over to the new form.

You can also fill in the forms a bit at a time rather than all at once.


Your details will be held securely and will not be shared with any third parties without your consent.

How do I register as an individual?

  1. Click on ‘Register’ in the top right hand corner of any page of the website

  2. Select the registration form that says: "Are you looking for help for yourself or someone close to you".

Screengrab showing the individual's registration form

  1. Fill in your details on the form.  Those fields marked with a red asterisk are mandatory.

  2. If you want to be notified by text message, you will need to provide your mobile phone number.

  3. Make sure you tick the box to accept the Terms and Conditions

  4. Click the ‘Register’ button

Logging on for the first time

Once you have registered with us, you can log in to your  Turn2us account.

  1. Click on ‘Log in’ in the top right hand corner of any page of the website

  2. Enter your username and password

  3. Click the ‘Login’ button

  4. You are now logged in to your Turn2us account 

Making an enquiry

The next step is to make an enquiry.

If a charity accepts online enquiries through Turn2us, there will be an 'Enquire online" button on the bottom right hand corner of the full profile.

Screengrab showing the enquire online button

When you click the 'enquire online button, the Grants Search tool will ask you to log  into your  Turn2us account.

Screengrab of the login page

When you have done this, it will bring up the Turn2us online enquiry form.

Screengrab of the top of the enquiry form

This asks you some general questions about your:

  • Contact details

  • Income

  • Situation

This information is needed to give  the charitable fund  information that will help them  assess your request for support and whether you qualify for their help.

When you have completed the form, you need to click the box at the end of the form confirming that you are happy for us to pass on your details to the charitable fund you have selected.

And then click 'Send'. 

Screengrab showing the bottom part of the Turn2us online enquiry form

The form can also be printed off if you want to post it to the charitable fund instead of emailing it or to keep a paper copy of your enquiry.

Once you have sent off the form, the charities should reply to your enquiry by email, phone or letter, telling you:

  • they may be able to help, but they need more information

  • they are not able to help you and why

  • they have accepted you enquiry and invite you to make a formal application.

Making an application

You can  formally apply when a charity asks you to do so.

You will usually have to fill in a detailed application form.

The charitable fund will advise you what the next stage is in the application and how you should apply.

The charity will ask for more detailed information, please remember that you will only be asked for details that the charitable fund needs to know to make sure you get appropriate help. It may also assist them to find other help for you that you did not know was available.

Applying directly to charitable funds

Go to the full profile page for the charity.

Click 'How to apply?'

This will then tell you how to contact the charity and make an enquiry.

 Screengrab showing the 'How to apply' section on the Turn2us Grants Search

It is important to follow the guidance about how to apply. 

Final check - can I apply?

In some cases, before you can access the contact details or the online enquiry form, you will have to confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria for that charity. 

If you are sure  you meet the conditions of that charitable fund  click 'Enquire', the Grants Search will either display the contact details in the case of charities that want you to apply directly to them or take you to the online enquiry form if the charity accepts enquiries through Turn2us.

Screengrab of the Turn2us Grants Search enquiry gate

If you don't meet the eligibility criteria, don't tick the confirmation box.  Close the window and look for other charities that are able to support  your situation and needs. If you click the 'Enquiry' button, it will give you a message telling you to do this and will not let you progress to the next step.

Screengrab of the Turn2us Grants Search enquiry gate

Applying via an intermediary

Some funds can only be accessed via an intermediary.

Some of these funds do not appear on the public Grants Search . However, registered intermediaries  with Turn2us are able to see their records  when they do a grants search..

Others show their details on the public part of the Grants Search but the "how to apply" makes it clear it has to be via an intermediary.

Others accept enquiries from individuals but they have to be supported by an intermediary.

Who qualifies as an intermediary?

This will vary depending on the rules of each charitable fund. 

Intermediaries who  work with people in financial need include:

  • Health and social care professionals, such as nurses, GPs, therapists and social workers

  • Advisers from Citizens Advice and other advice organisations

  • Staff and volunteers from charities working with people in financial need

  • Someone who speaks on your behalf (advocate or representative) - for example advocates for people with learning disabilities.

I don't have an intermediary

It may be worth contacting the charity to find out if there is anyone that you know who could act as an intermediary; or if there are any other ways to apply.

If you change your mind about applying after you have received the application form

Charitable funds tell us that sometimes they send out application forms and then never hear from the applicant again. This may be because the person found the help they needed from somewhere else or because the applicant found the forms too difficult to fill in.

We would encourage anyone who decides not to apply after receiving application forms from a charity to let them know that you don't wish to continue with the application and why.  If it is because you struggle to fill in forms, they may be able to help you with this. If there is some other barrier that prevents people from applying to them, it is useful for them to know as they may be able to adapt their services to get round this.

Last updated: June 2018

3. Emergency help and charitable funds

People often contact us because they need emergency financial help.

Some charitable funds give help in an emergency.

What is defined as an emergency will depend on the charitable fund's definition. However, this might include:

  • Homelessness because of fire, flood or family breakdown
  • Help with respite care costs for an older or disabled person because a carer has to go into hospital
  • Repair or replacement of a vital item of household goods, such as a washing machine, if the person who needed it was disabled or aged and would be at risk without it
  • Vital living costs that you cannot pay because of a sudden job loss or bereavement.

Most charities are unlikely to be able to give immediate (same day help). Where they do give emergency help, this will usually take at least a day or often several days to organise.

Help from the local council and other emergency help

If you are on a low income and in receipt of benefits, help might be available to you through your local council.

See our Emergency Information guide for more information on what is available.

4. Frequently asked questions

In this section, we provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about charitable grants and the Turn2us Grants Search.

  1. How many online enquiries can I have?

  2. How quickly will the charitable fund reply?

  3. If a charitable fund accepts my enquiry, does that mean I'll get a grant?

  4. If I am successful, how will my grant be paid?

  5. Will I have to provide proof of my identity?

  6. Will I be asked to provide details of my financial circumstances?

  7. What do I do if my application for a grant is refused?

1. How many online enquiries can I have?

Each person who registers to use Turn2us’s services can have three active enquiries at any one time. If a charity is unable to help you, your 'My Turn2us' account will be updated when they send the reply. This then allows you to send a fresh enquiry to another organisation.

2. How quickly will the charitable fund reply?

Charitable funds try to reply as quickly as possible to applicants. However, how long the grant application process takes depends on:

  • The resources they have available, in terms of staff and funding

  • What procedures they use to assess your application

  • The necessary checks they need to make in order to consider your request for help. Some charitable funds use committees to assess applications. How frequently these meet will vary - they may meet once a month or less frequently. Others have caseworkers or other support staff who assess the applications and, in some cases, make home visits to applicants.

Make sure you complete the enquiry and application forms fully and provide as much information as possible to support your case. If details that they have asked you for are missing or you do not supply documents they have asked for, this will delay the process.

3. If a charitable fund accepts my initial enquiry, does that mean I'll get a grant?

No. This means that, based on the information you have provided on your enquiry form, the charitable fund thinks they may be able to help you. They will then progress your enquiry to the more formal application stage where they will assess your needs and eligibility for a grant in more detail and decide whether or not they can help you.

The charitable fund should be able to advise you how long their application process usually takes.

4. If I am successful, how will my grant be paid?

This will depend on the charitable fund awarding the grant.

You may be paid by cheque or through a direct bank transfer using a system likes the Bankers Automated Clearing System (BACS).

Some charities won't pay the grant directly to the person requiring help but to an intermediary organisation involved in their care.

Some charities give grants as 'gifts in kind'. This means that they would buy certain items, such as furniture, telephones, televisions or disability equipment on behalf of their beneficiaries – especially if they can get a better price because they are a charity or through buying in bulk.

Sometimes, items such as disability equipment are given as a loan (free of charge or at a low rental cost) rather than as a gift.

The charitable fund will advise you further.

5. Will I have to provide proof of my identity?

If an organisation decides to help you, they will ask you to provide proof of your identity before they release money or items they plan to give you.

6. Will I be asked to provide details of my financial circumstances?

As part of the application process, charities will ask you for a range of documents as evidence of your eligibility for help and your situation. This usually includes bank statements.

6. What do I do if my application for a grant is refused?

There is no 'entitlement' to charitable grants, which are given at the discretion of each charitable fund.

Unfortunately, your application to a charitable fund may be refused. The fund should give you a reason when replying to you to tell you that they cannot help you.

This may be because:

  • You don't meet the qualifying rules

  • The charity does not provide grants for the type of help you want

  • You have too much income and/or capital to be eligible for support

  • For some other reason that is specific to the charitable fund you have applied for.

The charity may suggest other sources of help for you to try.

You can also use the Turn2us Grants Search to search for other charitable funds that may be able to help you, depending on your personal circumstances, background and need.

Unfortunately, in some cases, you may not qualify for help from any organisation listed on our database.

Last updated: August 2018




5. Information you may need to apply

Before you start to use our Grants Search database, we suggest that you collect together the information that you will need when making an enquiry or application to a charitable fund - for yourself or on behalf of someone else.

A  fund is likely to ask you for the following information:

  • Personal details
  • Occupational history
  • Health condition
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Reason for asking for help
  • Income
  • Savings, investments and other capital
  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Amount of annual council tax bill is and whether they get any help with it
  • Information about anyone else living with them - spouses, partners, civil partners, dependent children or grown-up children. Are they in employment or on benefits? What is their income?
  • Information on partners

Applying on behalf of a child

As well as information about the child that needs help, the charitable fund will need information about their parents or guardians as listed above.

Last updated: 12 January 2015