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Small Grants Programme

Our Small Grants Programme sought to develop opportunities for communities to get more people physically active. It supported new projects through providing National Lottery funding of between £300 and £15,000.

The Small Grants programme is now closed and you can no longer create a new application.

The Movement Fund is now open to applications and seeks to support projects that tackle inequalities and use sport and physical activity to bring people and communities together.

To find out more please visit our funding pages here.

If you have an application in progress, you can still submit this application up to 5pm on 22 July 2024.

To get in touch with us please call us on 0345 8508 508 or email

About the fund

We've always been here to support communities with the things that are most important to them when it comes to being physically active.

Our Small Grants Programme was a quick way to apply for funding between £300 and £15,000, at any time.

You could apply for funding to deliver a new or existing activity that supported inactive and less active people to become more active by doing at least one of these things: 

  • Recover and reinvent: recovering from the biggest crisis in a generation, to provide sport and physical activity opportunities that meet the needs of different people.  

  • Connecting communities: focus on sport and physical activity’s ability to make places better to live and bring people together to be physically active.  

  • Positive experiences for children and young people: a focus on positive experiences as the foundations for a long and healthy life. 

  • Connecting with health and wellbeing: strengthening the connections between sport, physical activity, health and wellbeing, so more people feel the benefits and advocate for an active life.

  • Active environments: creating and protecting the places and spaces that make it easier for people to be active.

We prioritised projects that supported our focus of investing most in those that need it most. We did this by supporting more projects that demonstrated the following priorities: 

  • The project supported people who live in areas of disadvantage as defined by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation areas 1-3.  

  • The project was focused on tackling inequalities.  

You can read more about why we focused on these areas in our Implementation Plan for Uniting the Movement, Year 2 to 4.

Key information

Suitable for: voluntary or community organisations 

Funding size: £300-£15,000 

Project length: from two months to two years

A group of teenagers play basketball in a park.

Who and what we funded

Below are the Small Grants Programme criteria about who could and couldn't apply, and the types of projects we funded.

Other types of funding

If this funding was not right for your project, we offered information about other ways to generate funding.

  • Who could apply

    Organisations must have had a minimum of three unrelated/non-cohabiting trustees or directors.  

    You must have been able to show that decision making/voting rights were equitably distributed.

    Incorporated bodies must have shown this on their Persons of Significant Control register. 

    If you were applying for more than £10,000 then your organisation was required to meet Tier one of our Code for Sports Governance

    You could apply if your organisation was:

    • a not for profit constituted voluntary or community organisation. 
    • a community amateur sports clubs (as registered with HMRC) 
    • a registered charity 
    • a not-for-profit company (limited by guarantee without share capital or charitable incorporated organisation) 
    • a community interest company (CIC) or other social enterprise 
    • a community benefit society 
    • a school (if your project benefits and involves the communities around the school) 
    • local authority bodies (including town, parish, and community councils). 

    Flooding (only while applications were open)

    The Small Grants Programme eligibility criteria applied to organisations seeking storm relief funding. Organisations applying needed to confirm they had any relevant permissions required to carry out the work.

    Previous recipients of emergency funding from us for flood or storm damage who applied again needed to show the steps they had taken to mitigate against further damage.

    Applicants needed to submit evidence of damage which was directly attributable to the flooding in October/November 2023, including photographs.

    Applicants were also required to show why the damage couldn’t be covered by their insurance policy.

    As part of our commitment towards our collective net zero ambitions, applicants were asked to explain how, as an organisation, they were attempting to reduce energy usage, promote responsible travel and reduce waste.

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  • Who couldn't apply

    While the focus was on what could be achieved, there were some organisation types that weren’t eligible for this fund.

    We couldn't accept applications from:

    • an individual, sole trader or organisation with less than three people or where decision making is not equitably shared (e.g. an incorporated body with Persons of Significant Control) 
    • a national governing body for sport or Active Partnership 
    • a commercial / for profit entity  
    • an organisation based outside the UK  
    • an organisation applying on behalf of another.

    Please note, you could only be in receipt of up to £15,000 in a 12-month period.  

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  • Projects we could fund

    You could apply for funding to deliver a new or existing activity, that supported inactive and less active people to become more active by doing at least one of these things: 

    • Recover and reinvent 
    • Connecting communities 
    • Positive experience for children and young people  
    • Connecting with health and wellbeing  
    • Active environments 

    You can learn more about these five big issues here.

    We prioritised projects that supported our focus of investing most in those that need it most.

    We did this by supporting more projects that demonstrated one of these things: 

    • The project supported people who live in areas of disadvantage as defined by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation areas 1-3.  
    • The project was focused on tackling inequalities.  

    Your project should involve your community

    People know what's most needed for them to be able to be more physically active. With this fund, it was important you involved your community from the start, to understand what motivated them and what barriers they might have faced. 

    We wanted to support projects that showed they understood local people and the communities they formed.

    Sport and physical activity 

    All of our funds can support projects delivering recognised sports and physical activity – a full list of which can be found here.  

    We can consider requests for activities outside of this list, where the following applies: 

    • The identified activity is specifically focused on the needs of the target audience
    • The activities being delivered are part of the Broad Activity Categories identified through Active Lives:
      • active travel 
      • walking/cycling activities 
      • dance activities 
      • fitness activities 
      • sporting activities.

    It may be possible to include activities that aren't on the recognised list.

    In these instances, we'd need to understand how an alternative activity would be part of a progressive route to a recognised sport or activity.

    You might also tell us why this activity is most suitable for the people you'll be working with. 

    Project length 

    We expected your project to be able to start within six weeks and run for up to two years. 

    If you were a school, or an organisation working with a school

    Your project should have involved and benefited the community outside of the school. The project must have been delivered outside of statutory curriculum hours. 

    If your project involved football 

    We supported football projects as the main activity, or part of a multi-activity offer, where it could demonstrate one, or more, of the following:  

    • The focus was on tackling inequalities and supporting those who are less likely to be physically active
    • The focus was on a non-traditional format of football where the emphasis was on being more physically active and not competition
    • The project utilised existing community spaces that may not traditionally be used for football activities
    • The project connected football activity to existing community services or locations. 

    Flooding (only while applications were open)

    We funded emergency costs to help restore sports facilities and activity venues. Examples included:

    • skip hire to remove sediment and rubbish
    • minor electrical works to restore power
    • decontamination works or clearing of blocked drains
    • cleaning work to get showers and changing rooms back up and running
    • securing buildings.
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  • Projects we couldn't fund

      Unfortunately, we can't fund everything and this fund didn't cover:

      • We won't fund football projects: 

        • with the aim of supporting existing teams
        • focused on expanding or creating competitive football activities.  
        • where there is other support available; this includes the Football Foundation, the Football Association and any available local support via County FA, Active Partnerships and local authorities. 

      If your project involved altering an existing facility 

      We could support minor facility alterations where they achieved one or more of the following: 

      • Making a community activity space more accessible 
      • Refurbishing a space to enable more physical activity to take place 
      • Improving energy efficiency to support more resources going towards creating physical activity opportunities.

      You must have had, or provided confirmation that you didn't need, the relevant planning permission/building control consent and/or landlord approval. 

      We weren't able to support facility alterations where, after the funding decision, there remained a funding shortfall that prevented the work commencing within six weeks. 

      Flooding (only while applications were open)

      The funding was only designed to help with the initial clear-up to enable activity to resume. We didn't fund the following costs:

      • loss of stock
      • replacement of damaged equipment
      • loss of income
      • goods or services valued in-kind (you were required to provide evidence of expenditure)
      • any routine maintenance or repairs resulting from everyday wear and tear
      • any expenditure coverable by insurance
      • football facilities where they were predominantly used for affiliated / competitive league football – any funding request for projects that included football needed to clearly show they were a multi-activity facility.
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    Costs we could and couldn't fund

    • We could fund

      Provided your project met one of the four aims for the programme, we could fund a wide range of costs and items. These were:

      • coaching costs 
      • volunteer training  
      • equipment  
      • minor facility alterations  
      • facility hire.
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    • We couldn't fund

      Unfortunately we can't fund everything - below is a list of costs our Small Grants Programme couldn't be used to pay for.

      • project costs not focused on supporting more people to be physically active, or do not meet one of the programme aims
      • general running costs or existing costs to your organisation (e.g. utility bills or existing staff costs) 
      • construction/refurbishment costs where building regulations approval, planning permission, or landlord consent are needed and have not yet been obtained 
      • costs incurred prior to the date of an award letter 
      • costs associated in submitting the application, e.g. paying someone to write your application for you 
      • costs benefitting an individual (e.g. membership fees) 
      • costs benefitting participants under five years of age (unless part of a family orientated project involving adults) 
      • costs that were not a direct responsibility of the applicant to cover (for example, costs associated with a facility not owned/leased by the applicant) 
      • VAT costs you can recover 
      • costs for activities where participants live outside England 
      • costs for activities where there was a statutory responsibility – e.g. curriculum time delivery 
      • costs for delivering a high-risk sport where the applicant, or the coaches delivering the activity, were not affiliated to the relevant national governing body.  
      • costs for items or activity that could be supported by the Football Foundation. 
      • costs for religious activities.
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    Support for environmental sustainability projects

    We want to support sports and communities to protect and adapt the environments in which sport and physical activity takes place and work together towards our collective net zero ambitions. 

    For this fund, we invited applications from projects that focused on supporting inactive and less active people to become more active, while reducing our impact on the environment - projects that could deliver both environmental and physical activity benefits for your community.

    We asked communities to put forward ideas addressing any of three key environmental areas for our sector, which had been designed with and for local communities.

    The ideas should have particularly benefited those experiencing greater disadvantage and all projects must have had a 'line of sight' to physical activity, supporting inactive and less active audiences to be active while also addressing environmental sustainability.

    The three key areas are outlined below, along with an example project for each.

    • Reducing energy use

      What? Actions and measures supporting your local efforts towards net zero.

      This could include installing energy meters or low cost measures to improve insulation/ventilation to help reduce your energy usage; automatic controls to switch lights and electrical equipment off; using LED bulbs; or staging lower impact events and competitions.

      How? A tennis club applies for funding to switch their court lights to LED bulbs. By switching bulbs, the club can afford to light more courts and offer additional taster sessions for the local community while running their regular member classes on other courts.

      The sessions are designed with a particular community group, reflecting their interests and needs.

      The positive environmental impact is highlighted alongside other measures in the club’s promotional materials, helping to attract an environmentally conscious audience to participate in the club’s activities.  

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    • Encouraging responsible travel

      What? This could include encouraging people to walk or cycle where possible and providing safe cycle/scooter/buggy storage options; promoting accessible and safe public transport routes and lift sharing; and using local community assets to minimise travel. 

      How? In collaboration with its residents, a local housing provider creates a series of walking routes to and from local community facilities, replacing journeys residents usually do via car.

      The routes are launched with a guided introduction, the community support each other to use the routes by travelling together and creating clear step-by-step guides.

      Others are encouraged to take part by sharing the positive experiences of walking and the benefits for the local environment.

      The residents count and promote the number of car journeys ‘saved’.  

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    • Reducing waste and improving resource efficiency

      What? Measures and actions that seek to reduce and eliminate waste.

      This could include encouraging people to repair, recycle or re-use sports equipment or starting a kit and equipment donation scheme; offering more environmentally sustainable food and drinks packaging; reducing use of single-use plastics, for example by providing water-refill stations at your venue and encouraging participants to bring reusable bottles. 

      How? A school and cycling hub set up a donation scheme together.

      Old equipment is donated, children and families are matched to bikes through taster and maintenance classes, and are offered the chance to keep equipment alongside cycling sessions run across the school holidays.   

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