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 as part of your application before the final closing date
  • Read the guidance notes and ensure you are eligible to apply and your project meets the funding criteria
  • Check your budgets and 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?

All of our grant programmes that are open for applications are detailed here.

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

Once you register an email address you will be emailed a link to go through 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 and save online and return via the link to update further information, complete and submit.

Upon submission of your application you will be sent a copy of your application for your own reference.

All supporting documentation, such as your (signed) constitution, accounts, recent bank statement, relevant policies, and management committee details 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 full assessment.

What does The Community Foundation fund?

CFNI manages a number of programmes and funding criteria varies between programmes.

We would advise groups and individuals to visit our website and review specific guidelines for each programme to ensure that your project and application is relevant to particular funds.  For Community Benefit Funds there is strict guidance, in particular around the need for the applicant organisation to be based within the specified fund boundary.

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

Where can I get help with my application?

The CFNI Grants team will give some guidance around your application and general funding criteria, however, the 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 around a programme and/or direct you to an agency that may be able to provide more specific support. We also hold monthly Chat to the Funder events that we would encourage you to sign up for.

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 programmes will be open throughout the year there may be deadlines in terms of meeting panel dates.  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 grant programmes have different grant levels.

Please visit our website and review the guidance for particular funds for grant levels for specific programmes.

What do I need to apply to the Community Foundation?

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

  • Signed governing document such as a 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 Church constitutions not in the name of the applicant organisation, and/or Sports Club and Cultural organisations who use umbrella governing documents.
  • Signed accounts or Income and Expenditure Statement
  • Current Account Bank statement (in the name of the applicant organisation) – which must be dated within the last three months
  • Full name and address of management committee/trustees and Officer positions
  • An Equality Policy
  • Any, relevant to project, policies such as Child Protection, Vulnerable Adult Policies

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.

Our Department of Health Funds also require stakeholder analysis for projects requesting £10,000 or more, and management accounts and budgets for projects requesting £100,000 or more.

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 the online link.

What is our process for assessing applications?

Upon receipt of applications, our team will import your online application to our CRM system.

A pre panel report is generated and we allocate a Foundation Rep to review your application.

The process for review is as follows:

1. Due diligence:

The Grants and Donor Care Officer carries out an initial assessment of the application by reviewing the application supporting documentation.  The following will be considered:

  • Check fund eligibility, i.e. income levels, within fund boundary, for windfarms etc, check distance through google maps
  • Review grant history, previous applications, check no outstanding monitoring, ensure no more than three live grants. If already have three live grants then they cannot have any more, unless they can close off and complete one of these.  This must be done before payment of another grant.
  • Review constitution with eligible purpose/objectives, check no purpose or reference to promotion of religion,
  • Financial accounts (as per governing document and depending on programme and subscription not in deficit),
  • Review of management committee details on application, check if related members, query same names, Chair’s name, home address, telephone number and email address, names of all other committee members with all office bearers roles highlighted on application form
  • Relevant (to project) policies e.g. Child and Adult Safeguarding Policies and Equal Opportunities Policy, so for example if working with all ages, all policies needed, if only working with children, child protection policy needed.
  • All applications should have an equality policy, and the assessor should check they are happy with the content of the equality policy, eg: no reference to only employing people of only a certain religion or something similar.
  • She/he checks Salesforce to see if the group has been funded previously and considers any additional information recorded on Salesforce, including if the applicant has abided by previous grant aid agreements.
  • If the group still has a live application with one of the Foundation’s programmes, a new application will not be considered for the same programme.
  • Groups may only have up to three live grants at any one time.

During the initial assessment, the Grants and Donor Care Officer will take into consideration both the organisation’s resources, as well as its access to other funds.  In the event of oversubscription of a particular fund the GDCO may take into account income levels, and/or free reserves, when assessing an application for funding.

2. Full assessment:

Once the applicant has passed the full due diligence checks they will then proceed to full assessment. It is only those applications that have provided full and correct supporting documentation that has passed due diligence checks that will proceed to a full assessment, particularly when funds are heavily oversubscribed. It is therefore important that you review the supporting documents required for particular funds and ensure they are included with your application.

The assessment level of detail will depend on the fund, however, it will usually follow the following review:

  • Background to applicant organisation
  • Review of organisational history with the Foundation, and if having met previous grant aid agreement requirements
  • Project they are applying for
  • Costs associated – outlining any eligible and ineligible costs
  • Alignment (or otherwise) with the fund criteria and priorities
  • Assessor’s recommendations – with details of  conditions, if appropriate

Grants are allocated a rating of either red, amber or green by the Grants and Donor Care Officer to indicate whether their recommendation is to reject, discuss, or approve the application. In some instances the funds may be scored, with the scoring criteria aligned to the fund priority areas.

Once the grant assessment has been completed and all assessment information entered on Salesforce, the Grants and Donor Care Officer checks the box Panel Ready on Salesforce. In some cases, for example our DoH Health Funds, we will have a second assessor review the application and add any further comments, or recommendations. In the event of disagreement with an assessor the Grants Director will discuss with both assessors and come to an agreement prior to the final recommendation being made to the panel.

Panel papers are generated for a panel to review either in person or by email. If a project is rated amber then this may require additional discussion with the panel to agree to approve or reject. All discussions are recorded and minutes of the panel meetings are sent to the Board of Trustees for noting.

Decisions will then be issued by email to all applicants.

Rejections will fully outline the reasons for rejection in order to support the applicant to identify any areas for improvement.

How soon will I know if I am successful?

Depending on panel dates we will try to have all applications assessed and groups informed of outcomes within 6-8 weeks of the funding programme deadline.

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

Depending on programme specifics, 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 do CFNI generally not fund?

In line with most funded programmes CFNI will not fund the following:

  • Party political activity
  • Advancement of religion, which includes organisations who have a purpose to advance religion
  • 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

​There may also 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 CFNI for funding?

In general groups can apply to our funds without having to register with CCNI, however, please review guidance for specific programmes to ensure that your group is eligible to apply.

How do I make a complaint?

Grant Making Complaints Process:

Introduction:

The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) 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 CFNI 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 from the Grants Director, you can make a further complaint in writing to the Chief Executive again 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

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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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