funding selection criteria

Community Fund grants, between £100 and £2,000 are awarded to community, voluntary, or self-help groups to run projects that meet the following criteria.  To be successful, a group must:

  • Carry out positive work in the community

and a project must:

  • address a community issue
  • provide a good long-term benefit to the community
  • support co-operative values and principles
  • ideally be innovative in its approach.

Exclusion Criteria

The following exclusion criteria set out the type of groups and projects excluded from the Community Fund:


Excluded groups:

  1. Groups other than community, self-help and voluntary groups – to apply for funding a group must be either: a community, self-help or voluntary group; a charity; or a local branch of a national charity.  Groups which use their surplus for the benefit of a business or individuals are excluded from the fund.
  2. Core activities of auxiliary groups – auxiliary groups of the Co-operative Group, such as the Women’s Guild or Woodcraft Folk, are excluded from the scheme where the core activities (e.g. room hire or conference fees) have already been funded through a different route by the Co-operative Group. Although core costs are excluded, special projects, which are not part of their core work, are included.
  3. Social Enterprises – the Community Fund is unable to make grants to support the core work of not-for-profit social enterprises such as CICS, IPSs or Credit Unions (except for non-core activity).
  4. Cadets – the Community Fund is unable to make grants to any cadet groups, regardless of whether they receive funding from the Armed Forces or not.
  5. Statutory Bodies – Government funded organisations such as schools and local councils fall outside the funding criteria of the Community Fund.
  6. We do not fund Companies Ltd by Guarantee unless they are a registered charity.
  7. Groups that have received funding within the last 12 months. Any group that has received funding must wait 12 months from the date on their cheque to reapply.


Please note – Whilst schools are not eligible to apply, independent groups within schools such as PTAs can apply.


Excluded projects:

  1. Non-charitable purposes – A group does not have to be a charity to apply, however, the project funded must have a charitable purpose, i.e. benefit the wider community.
  2. Overseas activities – The Community Fund cannot support projects for the benefit of communities overseas.  However, the scheme does accept applications from groups from the UK or Isle of Man who will be travelling overseas as part of their project where the principle benefit lies with this group.
  3. Grant or loan schemes - Funding for the establishment of financial grant and loan schemes is excluded from the fund. 
  4. Religious worship – The Community Fund welcomes applications from religious or faith groups for projects that are designed to benefit the wider community. However, projects that are deemed to promote a particular religion are excluded from the scheme. For example, an application to refurbish a building that is owned by a particular religious group, but is open to members of the community outside that group, would be considered.  An application for prayer mats or new bibles would not be supported.
  5. Core activities of statutory services – Statutory services seeking funding for core activities such as a school library or essential hospital equipment are excluded from applying.  However, statutory services seeking funding for special projects or initiatives that do not form part of their core provision are included. 
  6. Improvements to property not owned by the applicant, or leased to the applicant for a period of less than 15 years, are excluded from the fund. If eligible, the owner of the property could apply to the Community Fund.
  7. Party political activity – The Community Fund cannot support fundraising, campaigning or any other activity associated with any political party.
  8. Individual sponsorship – The Community Fund cannot fund individuals, regardless of the charitable purpose e.g. appeals to provide assistance for a single child with an illness.

1. How can I apply?
Applications to the Community Fund can only be submitted online.

2. How much can I apply for?
Between £100 and £2,000. In 2010 the average award given was £1,033. If you are a newly formed group (less than three months) or you are unable to provide accounts to support your application, the maximum you can apply for is £500.

3. Who can apply?
Community groups, voluntary groups, self-help groups, community charities or local branches of national charities are eligible to apply.

4. What types of things can my group apply for?
Anything from equipment to event costs, help towards rent or fixtures, sport or computer equipment. Please note we cannot fund applications retrospectively or reimburse costs for events that have previously taken place. If you need further clarification as to whether your project items are eligible, please call 0844 262 4001.

5. Can my group apply for running costs?
Yes, the fund now supports running costs including salary costs, rent, heat, light etc.

6. Who can be an independent referee?
Anyone who knows about the group but has no direct link to it. For example a PTA of a school could not ask the head teacher of the same school to act as referee, as their pupils would be beneficiaries of the grant. Basically the referee needs to be someone who could never benefit from the grant, now or in the future. The referee also needs to be independent from the applicant and not related in any way.

7. What account information is required for applications over £500?
If you are applying for over £500 you must provide a copy of your group’s most recent accounts signed by your group’s treasurer. If you do not have accounts, you could submit a three-month record of your income and expenditure, signed by the group’s treasurer. This could be a spreadsheet kept by the group, logging all the income and all the itemised spending of the group. Bank statements will not be accepted. Accounts do not have to be audited. Please do not send your original accounts, we can accept copies.

8. Does my group have to own the building?
Your group either needs to own the building or own the lease, or have at least 15 years left on the lease, if you are asking for money towards building or renovation costs, or anything that will be a permanent unmovable fixture. 

9. How much extra information can a group include?
You can include up to 2 sides of A4

10. How long does it take to get a decision?
Groups will receive a letter notifying them whether their application has been successful or otherwise. If your application has been completed correctly and all required supporting documents have been received the process should take no longer than four months. Please note applications in the Northern Ireland region can take up to 12 months.

11. Who decides whether my group is successful?
There are over 50 Area Committees made up of democratically elected members of The Co-operative Group who meet and decide on applications from their specific area. With their local knowledge, they are tasked with making the tough decisions on which projects to fund. These meetings are held regularly throughout the year (excludes Northern Ireland).

12. Do groups always get the full amount they apply for?
No. Area Committees have a limited pot of money and may only have enough to make a donation towards the project.

Co-operative Community Investment Foundation - Registered charity number 1093028 (England and Wales)