Top tips for submitting a grant application

Talk to the Grants Team – before, during and after your application!

Have your supporting documentation ready to upload (in one file per document) as part of your application before the final closing date

Read the guidance notes to ensure you are eligible to apply and that your project meets the funding criteria

Check your budgets to ensure you can deliver on spend and project targets

Keep a record of all your project information and ensure you fully comply with any monitoring requirements as per your funding contract

How do I apply for a grant?

Grant programmes currently open for applications are detailed here.

Applications are submitted online by clicking on the ‘Apply Now’ link at the bottom of each set of guidance notes.

Once you register with your email address you will be emailed a link to the full application form. This link must be saved to access your form, prior to submission. You can work on your application over a period of time, by saving online and returning via the link to update further, complete and submit.

Once you submit your application you will be sent a copy for your own reference.

All supporting documentation, such as your (signed) constitution, accounts, and relevant policies, must be uploaded along with your application form and submitted as part of the assessment process. Supporting documentation should be scanned and uploaded as a PDF. Your application may be deemed as ineligible if you have not uploaded the supporting documentation correctly. ** Please note that all supporting documentation should be in the same name as the applicant organisation.

If you do not submit the full, and correct documentation, you may not be eligible for assessment, particularly if the fund is heavily oversubscribed. We may therefore shortlist only those applicants who have provided all that we ask for.


What does The Community Foundation fund?

The Foundation manages a number of programmes and funding criteria varies between programmes.

We would advise groups and individuals to visit and review the specific guidelines for each fund to ensure that projects and applications are relevant to particular funds. Community Benefit Funds have strict guidance, particularly relating to geographical boundaries.

If you are unsure or have any queries about a particular fund please contact our Grants team.


Where can I get help with my application?

The Community Foundation Grants team can give some guidance around your application and general funding criteria, however, staff will not be in a position to support a group to complete their application.

If you require any specific support, please contact the Grants team and they will be happy to answer any general queries about a funding programme and/or direct you to an agency that may be able to provide more specific support.


What should I do if I don’t understand the guidelines?

We encourage all applicants to contact the Grants team in advance of submitting their application. The Grants team will give some advice on the specific programme and some guidance around the type of projects that the programme may support.

Please note that the team will not be in a position to support groups to complete applications or give assurance that their application will be successful.

Are there deadlines for applications?

Each programme will have their own specific deadlines. We would advise groups to review the guidance notes and deadline dates through our website.

Please note that while some funds will be open throughout the year there may be deadlines for assessing applications. In general, we would ask that applications are submitted at least one month prior to the next panel.

If it is not clear on the guidance notes as to when the next panel date is for rolling programmes, please contact our Grants team.

How much can I apply for?

All our funds have different grant levels.

Please visit and review the guidance for particular funds for specific grant levels. ​

What do I need to apply to the Community Foundation?

The majority of our funding will require the following supporting documentation:

  • Signed governing document such as your Constitution (in the name of the applicant organisation) NOTE: Umbrella governing documents are not eligible for funding, unless otherwise specified in our guidance. These include Sports Club and Cultural organisations who use umbrella governing documents.
  • Signed accounts or Income and Expenditure Statement
  • Full name and address of management committee/trustees and Officer positions
  • Any, relevant to project, policies such as Child Protection, Vulnerable Adult Policies
  • Equality policy

Please note that some of our programmes may require additional documentation such as quotations, while others, such as our Micro Grant Programme, may not require a governing document or other items of supporting documentation. Please check the guidance notes for all programmes. In the event of oversubscription to a fund we will shortlist only those applications that have submitted all supporting documentation.

Can I email my application or get a hard copy to complete in writing?

All our applications are online and we do not permit applications to be posted by hard copy or emailed.

All applications must be submitted through your online link.

How soon will I know if I am successful?

We aim to have all applications assessed and groups informed of the outcome within 6-8 weeks of the funding deadline, however, this is dependent on the fund.


My application was turned down, how soon can I reapply?

Depending on the specific fund, applications can be received by groups at any time, following a previous rejection. Please check with the Grants team for rules around specific programmes, as these may differ from one programme to another.

What activities does the Community Foundation generally not fund?

The Foundation will not fund the following:

  • Party political activity
  • Organisations who have purposes that include advancement of religion, or who are applying for projects that will support the advancement of religion
  • The establishment of endowment of any school or institution providing further education within the meaning of the education and libraries (Northern Ireland) order 1972;
  • The provision of assistance to any Housing Association within the meaning of the housing (Northern Ireland) order 1976 – *Note: Housing Associations will be eligible for some funds, providing they meet all other eligibility requirements, and if they apply as part of a partnership project, and are not named as the applicant organisation.
  • Trips abroad
  • Individuals (unless an individual bursary programme)
  • Replacement of statutory funding
  • Projects that have already started
  • Groups who have not complied with previous monitoring requirements
  • Organisations with 3 live grants
  • Organisations or activities which promote causes that are contrary to our purposes. Causes and activities that are contrary to our purposes include, but may not be limited to, those outlined in our investment policy. We will not therefore fund organisations or activities which we determine are linked to the promotion of armaments, alcohol, human rights abuses, tobacco or pornography.

​There may also be further fund specific exclusions. Please review the fund guidance and criteria in advance to check that your organisation and/or project is eligible to apply.

Can our group apply if we are relatively new and do not have a full set of accounts?

New groups are eligible to apply for the majority of our programmes, however, we would encourage groups to review guidance for specific funding programmes to ensure they are eligible.

Groups without a full set of accounts can submit an up to date income and expenditure signed by their Treasurer, in place of a full set of accounts.

Our group is not yet registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, can we still apply to the Community Foundation for funding?

In general groups can apply to our funds without having to register with the Charity Commission, however, please review guidance for specific programmes to ensure that your group is eligible to apply.  Some of our funds require applicant organisations to be fully registered charities.

How do I make a complaint?

Grant Making Complaints Process:


The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (The Foundation) strives to give the best service for our donors, fund holders and those who apply for funding support, however, we recognise that there may be times that we fall short of this standard and as a result you may wish to make a complaint.

In considering making a complaint it is important to emphasise that this will not affect your chances of receiving a grant from CFNI in the future

The following procedure is in place should you wish to make a complaint.


What can I complain about?

You can complain if you think that:

  • maladministration’ has taken place in that we failed to follow the procedures in our application process
  • we have not treated you in a professional manner
  • we have discriminated against you or not treated you fairly.


If your complaint is concerning a funding application, we can only look at your application again if:

  • we discover (through dealing with a complaint) that we did not follow the published procedures for assessing your application


What you cannot complain about

CFNI recognise that you may be disappointed if we turn down your application for funding, however you cannot use the complaints procedure to appeal against our decision on your application if we have followed our decision-making process correctly.


Making a complaint?

Complaints must be forwarded to The Foundation within four weeks of the date of the letter outlining the decision relating to your application. A complaint received outside of this timeframe will not be considered.

There are two distinct stages in the complaints process.

Stage one:

If you are not happy with the service you have received, contact the Grants Director in writing or via email detailing:

  • what happened
  • when it happened
  • who dealt with you
  • what you would like us to do to put things right.


Stage two

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can make a further complaint in writing to the Chief Executive detailing:

  • what happened
  • when it happened
  • who dealt with you
  • what you would like us to do to put things right.

The decision of the Chief Executive is final and no further complaint process will be entered into after such a decision has been made.


When will I hear from CFNI?

  • Within five working days of receiving your complaint we will write to or phone you to acknowledge receipt and give you a date by which you can expect a reply.
  • You will receive a reply to your complaint within 28 working days. If we cannot give a full reply in this time, we will tell you why and when you are likely to receive it.

We will keep all complaints confidential. If you make a complaint, we will treat you with respect, and we expect you to treat our staff in the same way.

What are your Terms & Conditions?

You can download our standard Terms & Conditions PDF here.

Who to speak to

logo achieving impact square

Grants Team

Achieving Impact

The Grants Team are here to support you with your application and monitoring, carry out due diligence and assessment of applications and to manage the Foundation’s funds to ensure we make effective grants and achieve impact.

logo achieving impact square

Grants Team

Achieving Impact

The Grants Team are here to support you with your application and monitoring, carry out due diligence and assessment of applications and to manage the Foundation’s funds to ensure we make effective grants and achieve impact.

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