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Grants - what you need to know

Read our frequently asked questions to find out about charitable grants, how to search for a grant and how to apply.

Grants FAQ

What is a grant?

Grant-giving charities (also known as 'charitable funds') give financial help in the form of a grant to people in need.

Grants can be given as money, products or services that don't have to be paid back. 

Some charities also offer advice, information and support alongside financial grants.

The profile on the Turn2us Grants Search should tell you what they do, or you can check their website (if they have one) or contact them to find out more.

In most cases, charitable funds have been set up to help people in need who have something in common. To qualify for a grant, you will need to meet the eligibility rules for that grant. 

Who qualifies for a grant?

All charitable funds have:

  • Aims and objectives in their constitutions that must clearly define who they support
  • Specific qualifying rules (or eligibility criteria) that an individual has to meet in order to get help from them.

Each charitable fund's qualifying rules will be specific to them.

Financial Need or Low income

You will have to be in financial need or on a low income. How this is defined may different from charity to charity.

Other eligibility criteria (qualifying rules)

Then the qualifying rules might depend on other criteria, such as:

  • Having particular disabilities or illnesses: for example, Macmillan Cancer Support helps people affected by cancer

  • Working or previously worked in specific jobs or industries: for example, the Bank Workers Charity helps people who have worked in banks

  • Belonging to a particular faith group: for example, there are several Jewish and Christian charities listed on the Grants Search

  • Having certain nationalities: for example, the Netherlands Benevolent Society (Koning Willem Fonds) helps Dutch nationals in need who are living in the UK

  • Living in a particular area of the UK, such as a village, town, city, local council area, county, parish (past or present) or country.

  • Being of a particular age group, e.g. ‘older people’ or ‘children and ‘young people aged under 18’

  • Being male or female, some funds were set up to specifically help men or women in need.

Many funds also help the dependents of people their fund supports – e.g. their partners, ex-partners or dependent children.

Who can use the Grants Search?

The Turn2us Grants Search contains information on charitable funds that may help:

  • UK or Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland
  • Citizens of other countries living in the UK
  • UK citizens living abroad
  • Students who are UK citizens or normally resident in the UK
  • Students from other countries wanting to study in the UK.

Isle of Man and Channel Islands

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not part of the UK and have their own governments, benefits system and charity registration schemes.

Although our Grants Search does not list charities that specifically help people in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, many national charities, such as occupational and health related funds, may help people who live in these territories. Contact any funds you find that seem to match your background, needs and circumstances for more information.

Our Find an Adviser tool includes information on advisory organisations for the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. These may be able to provide you with more information about local organisations.

How do I use the Grants Search?

The first part of the Grants Search asks you to put in key information:

  • Location - Funds in your local area will appear followed by national funds
  • Gender – Some funds only help men or women
  • Age – Some funds help a certain age group

The results will show funds that match where you live, your age and your gender. 

There are some funds that only give grants based on specific eligibility criteria, such as what work you do or did in the past or if you are suffering from a particular illness. The best way to get these type of funds to show in your results, choose from the occupation, health, religion or nationality categories at the top of the results page.  See also 'Who qualifies for a grant?'

Charities have very strict grant-giving rules, so make sure you definitely meet their eligibility criteria before you apply. If you don't meet their criteria then they won't be able to help you.

Important tip: It's worth searching for yourself, your partner or the child/adult you're caring for - you may get different results.

What information will I need to apply for a grant?

The charity should tell you what you need.  For searching purposes and when applying, it would be best to gather together the following:

  • Personal details like date of birth and address
  • Work history and proof of occupation
  • Reason you are applying for help
  • Details of your income: from benefits including Carer's Allowance, Tax Credits, earnings from employment, State Retirement Pension, occupational pensions and any other sources
  • Details of your savings, investments and other capital. You may need to provide bank statements
  • Details of rent or mortgage payments
  • How much your annual Council Tax bill is and whether you get any help with it

 

How do I make an enquiry or application to a charitable fund?

Each charitable fund will have their own enquiry/application process that you will need to follow.

In most cases, there are usually two stages:

  • Making an initial enquiry to the charity
  • Submitting a formal application for help.

There are three main ways that funds on the Grants Search accept enquiries:

  • Online through Turn2us

  • By applying to them directly using the contact information

  • Via an intermediary working with people in financial need.

The 'How to Apply' section of each charity's profile on the Grants Search gives information on how to apply and who can apply.

Making an online enquiry through Turn2us

If the charity accepts online enquiries through Turn2us, the profile will have an 'enquire online' button at the bottom right corner of the Contact Details section.

Applying in this way, involves three steps:

  • Creating a Turn2us account

  • Making an enquiry to the charity using the Turn2us online enquiry form

  • Making a formal application if the charity accepts your enquiry.  The charity will tell you what you need to do for this stage.

Each person who registers to use Turn2us’s services can have three online enquiries at any one time. 

Why do some funds say I must apply through an intermediary?

Some charities will only accept applications through an intermediary or support worker who's applying on your behalf. Intermediaries who can help you apply might 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.
  • Teachers.

The charity's profile should explain what kind of professional they accept applications from.

Charitable funds may also be able to help you find someone to apply on your behalf if you can't find one. Try contacting them or check their website.

Use our Find an Adviser tool to find an intermediary

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.

If the fund accepts my initial enquiry will I 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.

Where the charity has given us the information, the 'How to Apply' section of their profile should have information on roughly how long their grants applications take to process.

If successful, how will my grant be paid?

This will depend on the charity 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 white goods, furniture, telephones, televisions or disability equipment on behalf of the people they help – 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 on how your grant will be paid.

What if my application 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 Grants Search.

Grants and Welfare Benefits

Most charitable funds will not give a grant if there are welfare benefits you could be claiming.

Regular payments

If you get regular payments from the fund, they are not counted as income and will not reduce your benefits.

If you get Universal Credit, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance suggests that charitable payments shouldn't affect how much Universal Credit you get. If the money you get from a charity is treated as income when working out your Universal Credit, you should speak to an adviser.

Goods (payments 'in kind')

If you get goods instead (payments 'in kind'), this is ignored as income unless you are getting Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and are involved in a trade dispute.

Irregular charitable payments

Irregular charitable payments count as capital rather than income. However, if you are involved in a trade dispute, they can count as income for Income Support (IS) or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (iJSA).

If an irregular payment takes your capital above the higher capital limit of £16,000, you will lose your entitlement to means-tested benefits, with the exception of Guarantee Pension Credit (GPC). If you are receiving GPC, no capital limit would apply to Housing Benefit (England, Scotland, Wales) and Housing Benefit (Northern Ireland).

Whether it is counted as income for tax credits depends on whether the charitable income is taxable. You should inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) who would be able to confirm.

Get advice

You should get advice from a benefits expert on this subject. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to look for a local expert.

Search for Grants

Search for a grant

Look for funds that might be able to give you a grant and/or other types of help.

Use the Grants Search tool