How are trusts and foundations responding to COVID-19?
by Alex Blake
More than 250 funders have signed the COVID-19 Funder Statement and Commitment to supporting civil society. The commitment is organised by London Funders, but is open to funders everywhere. You can view a full list of funders who have made the pledge here.

360Giving has developed the 'Covid Tracker' to monitor grants made in response. It is encouraging grant-makers to publish grants data with the word 'COVID19' so that they can be easily tracked.

So, as more funders announce how they are responding to the current outbreak, what can we expect?

The economic effects of the crisis are likely to have ongoing effects on the financial position of the majority of foundations. It is likely that income from foundations' investment assets will be reduced. It was notable in the recession that followed the 2008 banking crash, that some foundations felt the best way to achieve their mission in this circumstance was to increase their grant spending as far as possible, in response to the significant increase in need.

ACF also says conversations about better co-ordination between funders in their individual responses are already underway. Funders of advice services, of the youth sector and of work in the criminal justice sector are all looking at how they can work better together, to greater effect.

Communication is key!

It is vital that you are having transparent conversations with your funders including trusts and foundations and your other supporters. You need to ensure that you are communicating your position in a clear and succinct way.

How are specific funders responding?

1. Lottery Funders

The National Lottery Community Fund has said that it will divert the entirety of its next six months’ funding, around £300m, to deal with issues caused by Covid-19.

Arts Council England has announced they are “making £160 million of emergency funding available for those organisations and individuals who will need it during this crisis, and we have also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of our funding, to help alleviate pressure on them as best we can.”

Sport England has announced they are “making up to £195 million of funding available to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing coronavirus crisis. One part of this, our £20m Community Emergency Fund, is now open to applications from organisations experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations.”

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50 million fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The £50m fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000. The UK-wide fund will address immediate pressures over the next three to six months for those organisations most in need. It will be open for applications within the next few days. Additional support is also being offered with more details here, but all other grant applications are now ‘paused’.

2. Comic Relief and Children in Need

Comic Relief: “Some of the money that is raised through Sport Relief 2020 will go to organisations on the frontline of the response to the Coronavirus, who are able to reach some of the most vulnerable people, likely to be affected. We will update our website and the FAQS with more information over the next few days.”

Children in Need: “We need to carefully consider how to allocate any future funding to ensure it will have the greatest impact on young people who will already have been, and will continue to be, significantly affected during these unprecedented times. With this in mind, we are pausing all new applications for our Main and Small Grants programmes; this is a temporary measure which will enable us to focus on supporting the existing local charities and projects in our grants portfolio right across the UK. This will enable us to take account of the effects of the pandemic on the UK’s children and young people, so that our funding can make a real difference now, and most importantly, to those who need it most. In the coming weeks, we will announce specific measures to further support children and young people affected by the coronavirus outbreak, including additional funding.”

3. New Funds (open to applications)

Northumbria Police and Crime Commission Coronavirus Response Fund

Applications are open for grants of up to £5,000 to help sustain the delivery of crucial community projects that have been impacted by COVID-19.

Groups can apply for capital or resource funding for projects that continue to

• support victims

• improve people’s lives to prevent crime - support access to services for those in need of safeguarding or reduce reoffending

• build community confidence.

Applications are welcomed from a variety of organisations including those helping people at risk of domestic abuse and organisations helping young people experiencing abuse, neglect or the impacts of poverty now the stability and support of schools has been taken away.

All applications to be submitted by email to by 5pm on Thursday 9th April 2020. Decisions will be made by 24th April.

More details are here.

Scottish Government

The Scottish government has released £350m to allay the impact of the virus, including £20m to a third sector resilience fund. This is to help charities with immediate cash flow problems.

Standard Life Foundation

The Standard Life Foundation has launched funding for work directly related to the coronavirus pandemic. Grants will be made to organisations which tackle financial problems and improve living standards for those on low-to-middle incomes in the UK. It is likely that grants will be made in the range of £5,000 to £50,000, however, there is no set amount that people can apply for. Applicants should submit a one-page document outlining their idea. This should be submitted to: In addition to this fast track call for applications, their usual funding round in June will go ahead.

Sylvia Adams Trust

The Trust will make grants to organisations working to improve the life chances for some of the most disadvantaged children in England and Wales by investing in early intervention and preventative work (age 0-3 year olds). The Trust has paused its usual grants programme and opened a fund for unrestricted grants of £5,000. Eligible charities will be those with income under £750,000 and that can demonstrate the likelihood of increased demand for their services and/or can demonstrate a loss of anticipated income attributable to the current pandemic.

Deadline is April 28th 2020, with grants for successful applicants being as soon as possible after the closing date.


Funds open to applications are small grants (c.£500) through:

• We will focus £2 million of funding from our existing Bags of Help community donation scheme to charities that are helping the most vulnerable.

• Our stores have access to more than £1 million of funding so they can support causes in their local area.

More detail can be found here.

Crisis: Emergency Grants Fund

Crisis have opened an emergency grants fund for organisations supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Grants will support organisations that are experiencing funding difficulties, additional expenditure or increased service demand due to coronavirus.

Organisations can apply for small grants of up to £5,000 or larger awards up to £50,000.

Apply here.

Cadent Foundation

Charities and community groups can apply for grants of between £100 and £100,000 as a new foundation, funded by the UK’s biggest gas network Cadent, opens for applications. It covers the north West, East of England, West Midlands and North London. It committed £240,000 to the Trussell Trust last week to help food banks respond to challenges presented by Covid-19.

Clothworkers’ Emergency Capital Programme

The Clothworkers’ Emergency Capital Programme will award small capital grants of up to £5,000 for essential capital items to adapt or increase services in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Priority will be given to organisations supporting vulnerable and ‘at risk’ groups which fall within their programme areas. Deadline: Apply as soon as possible here.

Leathersellers’ Company

A small grants programme with grants of up to £3,000 has been set up for registered charities who are working in the following areas:

• The homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless

• Provision of food and essential supplies

• Victims of domestic violence

• Nursing care to vulnerable patients

Deadline: 11 May 2020 but apply as soon as possible. Applications will reopen in August 2020 with new priorities. Apply here.

Regarding the main grants programme this means we will be using the funding available in this quarter to grant additional funds to organisations we already fund who are working in these areas.

Princes Countryside Fund Rural Response Emergency Grants Programme

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is inviting applications for emergency funding from farming and rural community support groups, who are providing assistance to counter the effects of isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic. Grants of up to £2,500 are intended for costs outside of normal expenditure and are available for projects starting in the next six months.

Apply here by 12 noon on 15 April 2020.

John Lewis and Waitrose

John Lewis & Waitrose launched a £1m Community Support Fund to be distributed by Waitrose shops to local communities, and a support fund to aid staff facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic. To apply, contact your local store.

Big Society Capital

Big Society Capital is planning to launch an emergency loan fund for the sector. Around £100m is expected to be available and more details are expected this week (w/c 6 April).

Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT)

TPT has launched a £500,000 emergency fund to support sight loss organisations which are providing vital services to blind and partially sighted people during the Covid-19 pandemic. Grants will be available of up to £10,000 pounds or the equivalent of two months’ running costs (whichever is less) for use over the next six months.

TPT has suspended its normal grant funding activities, postponed the launch of its revised grant programme and will use funds previously allocated to its normal grant programme to provide this essential support to partners in the sight loss sector.

4. New Funds (closed/proactive giving)

Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust are each contributing up to $50m, and the Mastercard Impact Fund is committing up to $25m, to speed the development of and access to therapies. The Covid-19 Therapeutic Accelerator will coordinate research efforts and remove barriers to drug development.

£2m London Community Response Fund (wave 2 expected to open soon)

London's City Hall and City Bridge Trust have each contributed £1m to a fund for London charities affected by coronavirus. The latter has temporarily closed their main grants programme.

The emergency scheme will be coordinated by London Funders and available to organisations facing immediate financial pressures and uncertainty because of the coronavirus. These include increasing demands for services, higher staff absences, fewer volunteers and lower donations.

Full details of the new emergency support fund and how to apply here.

The National Emergencies Trust

NET has launched a coronavirus fundraising appeal to raise funds for local charities. The British Red Cross will be managing donations. £16m has been raised as of 03 April 2020, including donations from trusts and corporates (e.g. BT, Tesco, HSBC, M&S and the National Grid).

NET will award grants and distribute money raised through a number of charitable organisations, for example local community foundations. It has released £7.5m to community foundations so far (03/04/20).

£1m Money Saving Expert fund (now closed due to very high demand)

Martin Lewis, the founder of Money Saving Expert, has pledged £1m to support small charities.

In a statement, he said: "To try and help I'm going to release £1m from my personal charity fund to provide grants of £5,000 to £20,000 to small registered charities, or local arms of bigger charities, across the UK – to help with specific UK coronavirus-related poverty relief projects."

The Indigo Trust

The Indigo Trust is making £2.5m available through emergency grants to help charities respond to the coronavirus emergency. The trust responded to an initiative from charity think tank New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), which has published guidance for philanthropists on how to best support charities through the crisis. The Indigo Fund’s emergency grants will go to the National Emergencies Trust (£1m), to the Trussell Trust to support foodbanks (£1m) and to the Oxfordshire Community Foundation (£500,000), which will distribute the sum to organisations in the local area.

Steve Morgan Foundation

Housebuilder Redrow’s founder Steve Morgan has also pledged £1m a week to charity for 12 weeks, joining the list of celebrities and business people offering their support. The funds will be granted through the Steve Morgan Foundation to charities in the areas of Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales.

Julia and Hans Rausing

Julia and Hans Rausing have announced that they are giving £16.5 million to charities and causes tackling the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, including £5 million to the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Appeal. The £5 million donation follows their £2.5 million grant announced last week to other Covid-19 related charities including the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Helpforce and FareShare amongst others. In addition to this, Julia and Hans have pledged a further £9 million in donations over the next six months for other Covid-19 related causes.

Santander Fund

Financed by a reduction in senior management, board compensation and employee contributions, to provide medical equipment and supplies to help limit the spread of the virus. The bank expects the initial value of the fund will be at least €25 million.

Fundraising during the pandemic - our articles so far:

COVID-19 Pandemic, what does it mean for your fundraising?

Fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic, part two

Should I launch an appeal?

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