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About charitable funds and grants - Frequently asked questions: Charitable funds and grants

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.

Frequently asked questions: Charitable funds and grants

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

  1. How many 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. What do I do if my application for a grant is refused?

  7. What is the difference between a 'benefit' and a 'grant'?

  8. Will my benefits be affected if I get a grant from a charitable fund?

1. How many 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 usually try to reply as quickly as possible to applicants. However, a lot 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.

NB: 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.

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

You may be paid by cheque or through a direct bank transfer using a system likes the Bankers Automated Clearing System (BACS). 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. What do I do if my application for a grant is refused?

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.

You may wish to return to 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.

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

7. What is the difference between a 'benefit' and a 'grant'?

Benefits (and Tax Credits) are payments made by the Government to people in certain circumstances, for instance if they are:

  • On a low income
  • Are expecting or bringing up a child
  • Are pregnant
  • Have an illness, disability or injury
  • Are caring for someone
  • Are an older person
  • Have been bereaved.

You can be entitled to particular benefits, if you meet the qualifying rules.

See Your Situation for details of what is available to people in different situations.

Grants are sums of money that charitable funds give for specific purposes to people in need who qualify for their help. They are given as a gift or award, so they don’t need to be paid back.

You do not have an entitlement to a grant, even if you meet the qualifying rules of the charitable fund. They are given at the discretion of each charitable fund.

See About charitable funds for more information about grants.

Please note: The Government and other funding bodies also often give grants to people or organisations to pay for particular projects or services.

Will my benefits be affected if I get a grant from a charitable fund?

Regular payments

If charitable payments are made or due to be made regularly then the payments are disregarded as income and do not reduce a beneficiary’s benefits. However if the beneficiary is on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and is involved in a trade dispute then they will usually count as income. If a person receives goods instead (payments in kind), then this is ignored as income unless a person is getting Income Support or income-based JSA and is involved in a trade dispute.

Irregular payments

Charitable or voluntary payments that are made irregularly and are intended to be made irregularly are treated as capital under the benefits system and can have an impact on a beneficiary’s benefits. This would include one-off payments. (However, there are some special compensation schemes which are ignored as capital such as MacFarlane Trust, the Skipton Fund, Caxton Foundation, the Eileen Trust and MFET Ltd.)

If an irregular payment is provided to a beneficiary and the payment takes their capital above the higher capital limit of £16,000, this will result in the beneficiary losing their entitlement to means-tested benefits, with the exception of Guarantee Pension Credit (GPC) which has no higher capital limit. If a person is receiving the GPC, no capital limit would apply to their Housing Benefit.

However if an irregular payment is above the lower capital limit of £6,000 for means-tested benefits for people of working age and above £10,000 for benefits for people of Pension Credit age then this capital is then treated as tariff income and could reduce the amount of entitlement to these benefits.  For every £250 above £6,000, £1 will count as income for working age means-tested benefits. £1 of every £500 above £10,000 for people of Pension Credit age will count as income for Guarantee Pension Credit and Housing Benefit for people of Pension Credit age.

Tax credits

Whether it is counted as income for tax credits will depend on whether charitable income is taxable. If in doubt you should inform the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) who would be able to confirm. 

Seek advice from a benefits adviser

We would suggest you get advice from an expert benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local adviser.

Last updated: 3 January 2017

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