Funding for faith-based organisations: a quick guide

*This blog was updated on 12/04/18. This was to take into account changes to our application process. 

When we talk to faith-based organisations, they are often surprised to find out that they might be able to access our funding! In this blog we’ll answer some of the most common questions and issues. Here we go:

I don’t think we can accept money from the The National Lottery Community Fund because of its links to The National Lottery. Do you run The National Lottery?

Religions

It’s important to note that The National Lottery Community Fund doesn’t run The National Lottery. The National Lottery is run by a separate organisation, Camelot, and a proportion of the income they generate is given to the UK government. The government, which set up The National Lottery Community Fund along with a number of other distributors, gives some of this money to us to distribute to good causes throughout the UK.

Can faith-based organisations apply for The National Lottery Community Fund grants?

Yes. Faith-based groups (including places of worship, religious organisations, or charities with religious values) can apply for most of our grants, so long as they have the following things in place.

  • A committee or board with at least two unrelated members (or three if applying for more than £10,000)
  • A governing document such as a constitution
  • A bank account in the organisation’s name
  • Annual financial accounts.

Applicant organisations don’t have to be registered charities. They just have to have charitable or social aims, and meet our basic requirements laid out above. Read more about the requirements for groups to apply for funding on our blog..

What type of activities can faith-based organisations use The National Lottery Community Fund grants for?

Faith-based organisations can apply to run the same kinds of activities as any other groups applying, like salaries, equipment and services.

The main thing faith-based groups need to be aware of is that we cannot fund the practice of religion, or any activities that actively promote religion or particular belief systems (or indeed the lack of belief). This is because these activities could exclude people from accessing a project on religious grounds.

Can The National Lottery Community Fund support projects with religious elements?

Sometimes. It depends on whether these activities could exclude people from accessing your project. For example we couldn’t fund a counselling project where all users have to make a religious pledge before taking part. But if users were given the option to opt out from this pledge and still receive the same counselling, we might be able to fund the activity.

Can The National Lottery Community Fund support community buildings that are part of places of worship, like church halls?

Yes. We can fund minor refurbishment and upgrades for the likes of church halls through our National Lottery Awards for All Scotland fund. We recognise that these are important spaces in many communities, and host a wide range of groups and activities.

But we would not typically fund improvements to a building that is mainly used as a place of worship or for other religious activities. For example we wouldn’t fund new pews for a church.

If you need funding for a place of worship you may be able to access funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s places of worship fund.

Do any of The National Lottery Community Fund’s grants come from sources other than The National Lottery?

Yes. Most of our funding comes from The National Lottery. But we also run some funds that give out money from other places. For example, we run the Young Start fund which completely run and funded using money from dormant bank accounts. We also run funds for the likes of the Scottish Government.

So even if your organisation doesn’t accept National Lottery funding, we may still have some funding that could work for you. Feel free to ask.

Any other questions? Not sure if you can apply?

Get in touch! You can find our contact details here.

14 comments

    • Hi there – I’m afraid we can only fund projects that are being run in the UK, by UK based organisations, so we would not be able to consider offering you funding. Good luck with your project.

  1. We are a church organisation raising funds towards a community building .We are mainly black minority and our building will benefit the church as well as the community as we are planning to have a day centre facility and engage in other activities to benefit the community.We are based in Leicester.

  2. Hello does this article relate specifically to Scotland? Or does it hold true for all the big lottery awards? We are an open faith based group that is inclusive to all and are looking for funds to build a small structure and garden in England.

    • Hello Chris – sorry not to get back to you sooner. I’ve been on leave, and it seems that the notification of this message came to my personal email not my team.

      Although this piece was written from a Scottish perspective, and with that audience in mind, our approach is similar across the UK. Generally speaking, most of our grants programmes can support faith-based organisations, so long as the activities you are asking us to fund are open to all regardless of faith, and not directly promoting religion.

      If you’d like to discuss your possibilities for funding, I’d suggest getting in touch with our England Advice team on general.enquiries@biglotteryfund.org.uk or 0345 4 10 20 30.

      Hope that helps, if a little late!

  3. we are faith NGO involved in research,training,linkage in agriculture and focusing on the most disadvantaged in community. we are in Kenya. please advice.

    • Hello John, thanks for your message.

      Sorry, but the Big Lottery Fund is not able to fund organisations that are based outside of the UK, so we wouldn’t be able to help with your work.

      Best of luck finding some other options.

  4. We volunteer at a youth club , we started 3 years ago, it takes place each Thursday 3 till 5 , the ages are 6 to 11 , the kids need things to do, like play games , baking , arts crafts, days out to the local beach , we have a hall which cost us 5 a week , but no storage we will look to buy a container to put the things in , most of these kids come from a broken family , or parents that dnt work , and some come 2 parent family that works , but still need help , the kids make cakes biscuits to take home , for there family , we charge £1 a week each kid but sometimes a couple of kids dnt have money we still let them take part, the voultees take time out there working week to help , we also give the kids fruit , juice and snack , could you help keep this group going

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