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Funding for Faith-Based Organisations: a Quick Guide

October 29, 2014

When we talk to faith-based organisations, they are often surprised to find out that they might be able to access our funding! Because of this, we thought it would be a good idea to try and deal with a few of the most common questions, issues and misconceptions. Here we go:

Can faith-based organisations apply for Big Lottery Fund grants?

By ReligijneSymbole.svg: Szczepan1990 Pagan_religions_symbols.png: *Triskele-Symbol1.svg:Dariusofthedark at en.wikipedia Heathenism_symbol.PNG: Nyo Hellenism_SYMBOL.png: Iyyo Ankh.svg: AmosWolfe HandsGod.svg: AnonMoos Roman_Way_to_the_Gods_SYMBOL.png: Iyyo Triple-Goddess-Waxing-Full-Waning-Symbol-filled.png: AnonMoos Emb-37.svg:Theone256 at en.wikipedia CadishismPalm.svg: Original PNG version: Nyo - SVG version: Amakukha Hamsa.svg: Frater5 Continents_from_globe.png: The Transhumanist  derivative-compile work: Niusereset [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia CommonsYes. Faith-based groups (including places of worship, religious organisations, or issue-based religious charities) are eligible to apply for most of our grants, so long as they have the following things in place:

  • A committee or board with at least three unrelated members
  • 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 social aims, and meet our basic conditions laid out above.

What type of activities can faith-based organisations use Big Lottery Fund grants for?

Faith-based organisations can apply to run the same kinds of activities as any other groups applying.

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 Big Lottery Fund support projects with religious elements?

Potentially. Our main consideration is whether these activities could exclude people from accessing your project. For example, we couldn’t fund a counselling project that requires all users to make a religious pledge before taking part. But if users were given the option to opt out from this pledge without it affecting their participation, we could consider funding the activity.

Can Big Lottery Fund support community buildings within places of worship – like church halls?

Yes. We regularly fund minor refurbishment and upgrades for the likes of church halls through Awards for All Scotland. We recognise that these are important assets in many communities, and host a wide range of other groups and activities. That said, we would not typically fund a building that is used primarily as either a place of worship or for other religious activities. However, our sister organisation the Heritage Lottery Fund offers some funding for maintenance of historic places of worship.

We cannot accept Lottery money. Do any Big Lottery Fund Scotland grants come from other sources?

Yes. Most of our funding comes from the National Lottery, but we also administer some grants in Scotland that distribute money from other sources. Our main non-Lottery fund at the moment is Young Start (funded only by dormant bank accounts), but have also run funds for the likes the Scottish Government and UK Government, so it’s worth checking with us if you are interested.

Any other questions? Not sure if you can apply?

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

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Motherly love Foundation. permalink
    November 6, 2014 6:05 pm

    Although we are not in Scotland but in Kenya we hope to be considered for the funding.

    • November 7, 2014 9:51 am

      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.

  2. Precious MUDHEFI permalink
    June 14, 2016 11:42 am

    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.

  3. chris permalink
    November 23, 2016 5:59 pm

    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.

    • February 14, 2017 4:16 pm

      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!

  4. March 16, 2017 3:17 pm

    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.

    • March 29, 2017 10:53 am

      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.

  5. Austin Mazinga permalink
    July 17, 2017 2:20 am

    I am offered fee free research study at University of Winchester, UK to draw best models for social enterprises in health and nutrition. I am looking for support for cost of living for the 3 year study in the UK

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