Apply for funding online

Before you start, this is what you’ll need to hand:

The name, address and telephone number of an independent referee who can vouch for your group, this person should have knowledge of your group or projects, but not directly benefit from any grants received. You must have already obtained consent from them to enter their details.

A copy of your group’s accounts – we ask you to complete your income, expenditure and balance of your group’s accounts to us. You will need to send us a copy of the accounts. The accounts must be signed by your group's treasurer, if we don't receive your accounts within 20 working days, your application will be withdrawn and you will need to reapply. If you need any further help with this, call 0844 262 4001.

What items you’re asking for and how much they cost.

The cheque payee name should your application be successful. Cheques are not made to personal accounts, so you must have a bank account set up in the name of your group before you apply.

The application process form is easy to complete, with only six sections, but there are a few things to remember:

You might also find it helpful to read the funding selection criteria to double-check if your project or your group is eligible to apply.

You must complete the form in one session as your from cannot be saved. It should take around 45 minutes to complete.

You can download a list of the questions you will be asked here: The Co-operative Membership Community Fund questions PDF, 116 KB – Once you've clicked on the link, select open or save. **Please note this is NOT the actual application form. Please do not submit this**.

Certain regions please note

If you want to apply for a grant in any of the following areas please telephone the helpline on 0844 262 4001 before applying:

  • Yorkshire
  • Humberside
  • Lincolnshire
  • North Cumbria
  • Chesterfield
  • North East


About the form

You can’t move onto the next screen until you have correctly completed the current one. If you fail to complete a compulsory question, then a red asterisk will appear to show you where you need to add information.

Only use the ‘previous step’ and ‘next step’ buttons to move between screens. Do not use the ‘back’ button on your browser, as some of the information you’ve entered could be lost.

There are information bubbles next to some questions to help you – just hold your cursor over the icon to see the information.

Apply for The Co-operative Membership Community Fund.

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. If I'm asking for money to update a building, 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 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.

10. 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 generally held every other month.

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.


For any further questions contact us at:

Grants Administrator
Community Fund
Dept: 11305
1 Angel Square
M60 0AG 

By phone:
Help line: 0844 262 4001

By email:

The terms and conditions below sets out the legal relationship between us (The Co-operative Group Limited) acting as agent for and on behalf of Co-operative Community Investment Foundation (CCIF)) and your group (you). If you would like help to fully understand the contract, call us on 0844 262 4001 and we’ll do our best to answer any questions.

  • We (The Co-operative Group Limited) can ask you for extra information to support your application.
  • We can ask you to return the funding in full if we find that you have used it for a purpose other than that set out in your application
  • The amount we provide is final and we will not increase it if you overspend or have worked out your costs incorrectly.
  • If you do not spend all the funding we provide, you must return any unspent money to us within six months of the estimated end date of the project, as set out in the application.
  • You must get permission before you sell, give away or otherwise dispose of any assets or equipment bought with funding from the Community Fund. If we give our permission you must repay the full amount of funding to us when you dispose of the assets or equipment.
  • We will not be responsible for any spending (on assets, equipment, or your project) that arises before you receive our letter confirming details of the funding we are providing.
  • We do not have to issue further amounts for a particular project once funding has been provided, although you can apply for further help. You are only eligible to reapply to the Community Fund 12 months after any successful grant has been awarded.
  • You must promote the Community Fund in all publicity relating to your project. We will provide you with guidance on appropriate ways in which to promote the Community Fund and reserve the right to request you to amend or to cease publication of the Community Fund if this guidance is not adhered to.
  • We can use your group’s name and address, the information you provide us about what your group does, and the information you provide us about the project you are seeking funding for in any publicity and marketing relating to the Community Fund. This includes, but is not limited to using this information in the press, our publications, websites, social media channels, stores and branches and any other marketing or promotional communications relating to our businesses.
  • We may use the information you provide us with to contact you for additional information relating to funding, for example to request information or quotes relating to how you have used funding, to request photographs of your group or to arrange interviews or photography with your project/group in relation to funding.
  • You agree to tell us about any details which should be kept confidential.
  • The Co-operative Group Limited area committee’s decision on your application for funding is final and they will not enter into any discussion about the decision.
  • We can check up on projects being carried out with help from the Community Fund.
  • You agree to co-operate with any follow-up visits.
  • We may withhold all or part of the funding, or recover all or part of any payment from you, if we discover that:
    • you have broken any part in this contract
    • any information in the application form or a supporting document was incorrect or misleading;
    • or your group or the project ends for any reason.

Data protection statement

Co-operative Group Limited will use your information to administer your request for a Community Fund grant. We would also like to tell you by email, sms, phone, or post about special offers, products and services, which may be of interest to you. We may introduce you to other members of our family of businesses (full list available on our website), other co-operative societies and carefully selected partners.

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