Describe what your company does in a few words

Describe exactly what the company does and what a customer can expect when working with the company. Avoid using verbose words or phrases.

Two girls on a swing

We are updating the guidelines for our  Improving Lives Fund.

The new guidelines will be published on Friday 7th June 2024 when we will reopen for applications from organisations based in Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire & Swindon.

The closing date for applications will be Friday 16th August 2024.

Although we will be updating our guidelines, the information we require in both stages of the application process will be similar to that stated here.

For further information please contact Vicky Oram-Ahern on  or call 01666 848 667.


Applying for a grant for
your organisation

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, we encourage you to contact the National Benevolent Charity to discuss your proposed application.

Please note we only accept applications from organisations with beneficiaries living in Bristol, Gloucestershire, Swindon & Wiltshire.

Hooded youth sitting on roundabout in playground

What is the aim of our grant making?

Our aim is to make grants to a wide range of organisations in Bristol, Gloucestershire, or Swindon & Wiltshire 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.

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

Volunteers picking fruit and veg

What do we fund?

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.  Therefore, we provide flexible, unrestricted funding.  

We will 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.

Man putting sign in shop window

What do we not fund?

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.
Young teenagers chatting on a bench

What is our application process for Bristol?

We were working with our existing partners until the end of 2023, however we will be launching a new Bristol fund in June 2024.

Special needs child looking happy in high chair

What is our application process for Gloucestershire?

You may apply to us directly using the short application form below together with supporting information. There are guidelines on what you may like to include in this document.  If you prefer you may submit a video or a presentation which shows your organisation, and the beneficiary needs clearly.  

The next application deadline is 16th August 2024.

Alternatively you may apply through Gloucestershire Funders.

Gloucestershire Funders is a collaboration of funders who came together in response to the uncertainty faced by charities and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Applications made through Gloucestershire Funders are reviewed regularly however they will still be subject to our internal panel deadlines. If you choose to apply via Gloucestershire Funders your application will be reviewed by all members of Gloucestershire Funders,so you may receive funding from another funder.

Please contact our Organisation Grants Manager for further advice and support on the application process.

Mum carrying young daughter in housing estate

What is our application process for
Swindon & Wiltshire?

You may apply to us directly using the short application form below together with supporting information. There are guidelines on what you may like to include in this document.  If you prefer you may submit a video or a presentation which shows your organisation and the beneficiary needs clearly.

The application deadline is 16th August 2024. Please contact our Organisation Grants Manager for further advice and support on your application

Dad holding toddler daughter in armchair both looking happy

How much do we award?

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

How do we make decisions?

Within a few weeks of receiving an application, applicants will be asked to have a phone call with our Grants Manager to discuss the application.

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.

Mum and daughters hugging and kissing, looking happy in residential area

How long do we take to make a decision?

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

For grants over £2,000 it may take up to three months from the application deadline.

What happens once we approve a grant?

Once a grant is approved, we will notify you 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.

Elderly lady smiling in armchair looking at smart phone

What type of reporting do we expect of grantees?

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 grant 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. However, we may ask grantee partners for photographs and stories for use in our own impact reporting.