COVID-19 has brought huge challenges for our society. People experiencing complex social issues are facing even greater risks. At such a difficult time, small and local charities, which have deep and longstanding roots in the communities they serve, have been needed more than ever.

Updated 27 July 2020


As charities continue to react, learn, and adapt to the diverse needs of the people they support, we have been rethinking and adapting our support and approach to funding. This work has been shaped by the conversations we’ve been having with you, our partners, and the wider sector. 


We don’t have all the answers and we don’t know what the future will look like. What we do know is that our support will need to continue to develop throughout this crisis. We see this taking the shape of three distinct phases:

  1. Reacting to the immediate crisis and supporting you as you adapt and respond
  2. Recovering – supporting charities and those they support beyond the immediate crisis
  3. Renewing services to adapt to the new normal


Read our analysis report on how charities are responding to COVID-19.


Read our blog from our Director of Grants sharing thinking behind this approach.


COVID Recovery Fund

At 10am on 3 August 2020 we will be launching £7.4 million COVID funding aimed at supporting charities to recover beyond the immediate crisis.


From our conversations with small and local charities and the wider sector, we know that to be able recover from this health crisis charities need unrestricted funding and the space and support to adapt their organisational, income generation and service delivery models which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.


To meet these needs, our COVID Recovery Fund will offer around 140 charities a two-year unrestricted grant of £50,000 alongside a Development Partner to help charities navigate a tumultuous future.


To survive the aftermath of the pandemic, charities have needed to alter the way in which they operate, deliver services and source income. Alongside crucial funding, we know charities need the space, support and resources to be able to do this and become more resilient to future challenges. This kind of work is complex, it takes time and involves the whole organisation and with the COVID Recovery Fund programme, a Development Partner will be appointed to work hand in hand with charities through this process.


The Development Partner will support you in this journey through your own internal resources, a range of external partners and consultants through our Enhance capacity building programme and will help you share and learn across charities through structured peer forums.


The months and years to come will be difficult, as a funder, we know that to provide the best support for the charities we partner with we need to learn from them as much as they need to learn from each other. We will develop our own learning to understand how we can be a true partner to the charities we fund and the wider sector.


This fund is open to small and medium sized charities with an income of between £25,000 and £1 million a year that are helping people overcome complex social issues such as dependency, homelessness and domestic abuse.


We know there is an explicit link between the vast majority of our complex social issues and racial injustice, and that these intersecting inequalities are best addressed by the small charities that are rooted in the communities they serve. We want to ensure that this funding is distributed equitably to the charities that are best placed to serve the communities who need it most. To make sure we can achieve this, a minimum of a quarter of this funding will go to charities that are led by and for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.


Following a comprehensive review of our grants portfolio and the wider sector, we found that some charities in specific places were being excluded by our criteria. We recognise that many of these charities often provide a response to a specific social issue such as homelessness or domestic abuse alongside helping communities and individuals around a range of other issues. That is why, we are also relaxing our eligibility criteria for charities based in Wales and the six communities where we are working to support long term transformational change.


Applications will open from 10am 3rd August 2020 and will close at 5pm 11th September 2020.


If you have any questions about this funding, please contact our team here.


We will be holding a Q&A webinar with our grants team on 11th August between 2pm – 3.30pm you can register here to learn more and ask us questions about the fund.



Support for grant holders


COVID React Fund

To help existing grant holders get through this immediate crisis we offered these charities additional one-year grants between £5,000 - £15,000 to cover any costs for adapting or developing services to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.


Applications submitted before COVID-19

We have a responsibility to use our funds as effectively as possible and so from 8th April, we stopped accepting any new applications for funding. This was so we could focus on designing a new approach that best responds to the current environment and can help charities survive, recover and strengthen in the long term. However, we proceeded with applications from charities that had already invested a significant amount of time in the process.


To minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19 and help charities quickly, we awarded over £2 million worth of one-year grants to 71 charities who’d already submitted applications to us when we closed. These charities have all adapted their services to support service users during COVID-19 and our funding will have the greatest impact in supporting them to survive this period.


Flexible funding

All existing grants will be more flexible. This can include:

  • Changing the focus of your grant so you can respond to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on your service users
  • Core funding to be used in any way you need to deliver your services and ability to use project funding to support your wider service users through the crisis
  • Leeway on agreed outcomes if they could not be met because of disruption from the coronavirus
  • Releasing the next annual payment without the need for a monitoring report if it could not be completed because of the disruption[1]
  • Possibility of amending grant payments so half of the total grant can be made available in one year


If you are an existing grant holder and need greater flexibility to your funding, please speak to your regional manager to discuss the options available.


[1] We’ll follow up once the situation has calmed down to work with you on completing the report.


Capacity building

We have adapted our full Enhance developmental support programme. We are continuing to provide support for charities to develop through our local and national partners. Alongside this, we have commissioned additional consultancy support to help charities respond to this crisis covering finance, fundraising, HR and operations, leadership and more. For any charities whose funding is coming to an end this year, we will continue to make our full development support programme available until 31 December 2020. This means that an additional 132 charities will have access to our Enhance programme this year. They will also be able to apply for the additional funding described above.


We are also regularly releasing webinars focused on helping charities build their skills in the above fields. These webinars are available to any small charity including any we do not currently support. To stay up to date and find out about the next webinar as soon as it’s available you can sign up for our newsletter here.


We know that charities need urgent help and what we do can only go so far. To help charities grow their capabilities, capacity and confidence to influence and campaign for change we’ve developed the changemaker programme.   


To see our full range of Enhance support during COVID-19, visit our regularly updated page here.


To discuss your development needs and access any of the support listed above, please speak to your regional manager.


Partnering with Lloyds Banking Group

Through our 35-year partnership with Lloyds Banking Group, we help charities find a trusted mentor that can offer ongoing support across a range of areas including business strategy and planning, governance and management and digital.


As well as mentoring, Lloyds Banking Group staff are delivering forums to help charities through their most pressing issues from crisis review and recovery, financial management, leadership and governance and more.


We also run a Trustee Programme that introduces senior Lloyds Banking Group staff to charities seeking to recruit new trustees.


For support in improving digital skills and reducing the digital divide charities can access the Lloyds Banking Group Digital Champions programme. This programme puts charities in touch with staff from Lloyds Banking Group who have strong skills and expertise in digital from IT and technology to digital marketing. 


The Lloyds Bank Academy has produced a series of trainer-led webinars and resources to help organisations improve their digital capabilities. These webinars and resources are free for everyone and you can find out more and sign up here.


Support for the charity sector

Government support

This crisis has presented huge challenges for charities and while we know that charities need additional funding and help to adapt services, much more needs to be done to ensure charities can survive the crisis. That’s why our approach has always been to fund charities, help to develop charities and the wider sector, and influence policy and practice. We will continue to push for change to improve the environment in which charities work.


We’ve been working closely with NCVO, ACEVO, NAVCA, CFG and other infrastructure bodies calling on the government to support charities during the COVID-19 crisis. Through #EveryDayCounts we put pressure on the Government to urgently provide support for charities resulting in the £750m funding announcement. While this is a welcome start, the sector is facing a £4.5bn income shortfall and the Government can do more to support charities who are the lifeblood of civil society. We are continuing to work with others in the sector by showing why charities are #NeverMoreNeeded.


At the start of May, we submitted evidence to the DCMS Select Committee that fed into their report on the impact of coronavirus on charities, government’s response and what the future might look like for the sector. The evidence we submitted was built on the experiences of the charities we support.


Supporting infrastructure bodies

Infrastructure bodies have an important role to play in civil society and supporting charities, however they have been affected by this crisis as well. We want to ensure that these organisations can continue to help charities during this crisis and beyond, so we have awarded £25,000 grants to both NAVCA and Locality.


Strengthening charities in the wider sector

We are continuing our long-term work in six communities across England and Wales to redesign the way local services are sourced and delivered so that people and communities are better supported.


We’ve adapted this work to help our partners start to recover and rebuild from this crisis. We’re achieving this by facilitating conversations between organisations that fund services, the charities and community organisation that deliver them, and the local people who will use them.


To help with this we have also made our capacity-building support available to our charity and organisational partners across the six communities.


We have launched a new programme to review what it means to be a resilient small charity in a post-pandemic world. The programme will bring our learning together with that of other organisations and charities themselves. Through this, we want to identify and help charities to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions so they can survive and prosper.


Enabling collaborations between funders

Foundations across the country have responded to this health crisis with flexibility, funding and support for their grant holders. We think more can be done to coordinate support for charities.


Along with the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, we have been developing a proposal for a Funders Collaborative Hub to propose how we can achieve a coordinated support offer for the next phase of the crisis as the country looks to recover and renew.



Read our analysis report on how charities are responding to COVID-19.

charities responding to covid analysis