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Small Grants Programme

Our Small Grants Programme seeks to develop opportunities for communities to get more people physically active and we'll support new projects through providing National Lottery funding of between £300 and £15,000.

About the fund

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

Our Small Grants Programme is a quick way to apply for funding between £300 and £15,000. 

You can apply for funding to deliver a new or existing activity, that will support inactive and less active people 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'll prioritise projects that supports our focus of investing most in those that need it most. We'll do this by supporting more projects that can demonstrate the following priorities: 

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

  • The project is focused on tackling inequalities.  

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

To see which area your project locations fit into, you can use this postcode checker.

Key information

Suitable for: voluntary or community organisations 

Funding size: £300-£15,000 

Project length: from two months to two years

Application deadline: the programme will close for new applications on 31 March 2024.  

A group of teenagers play basketball in a park.

Who and what we'll fund

Below are our Small Grants Programme criteria about who can and can't apply, and the types of projects we fund.

If, after reading this, you're unsure if you can apply please telephone Funding Helpline on 03458 508 508 or email funding@sportengland.org, we're open 8am-5pm Monday-Friday. 

Other types of funding

If you have read this page and feel like this funding is not right for your project – you can learn more about other ways to generate funding.

  • Who can apply

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

    You must be able to show that decision making/voting rights are equitably distributed.

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

    If you're applying for more than £10,000 then your organisation will be required to meet Tier one of our Code for Sports Governance

    You can apply if your organisation is:

    • 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 are open)

    The Small Grants Programme eligibility criteria will apply to organisations seeking storm relief funding. Organisations applying will need to confirm they have any relevant permissions required to carry out the work.

    Previous recipients of emergency funding from us for flood or storm damage that are now applying again will need to show the steps they have taken to mitigate against further damage.

    Applicants will need to submit evidence of damage which is directly attributable to the recent flooding (October/November 2023). Please upload photographs with your application.

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

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

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  • Who can't apply

    While the focus is on what will be achieved, there are some organisation types that aren’t eligible for this fund.

    We can'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 can only be in receipt of up to £15,000 in a 12-month period.  

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  • Projects we can fund

    ou can apply for funding to deliver a new or existing activity, that will support inactive and less active people 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'll prioritise projects that support our focus of investing most in those that need it most.

    We'll do this by supporting more projects that can demonstrate one of these things: 

    • The project will be supporting people who live in areas of disadvantage as defined by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation areas 1-3.  
    • The project is 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. It's important you involve your community from the start, to understand what motivates them and what barriers they might face. 

    We want to support projects that show they understand local people and the communities they form. 

    Sport and physical activity 

    Our funding 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. 

    If you wish to include an alternative form of sport or physical activity, please contact us (03458 508 508 or email funding@sportengland.org) to discuss this before you apply.  

    Project length 

    Your project should be able to start within six weeks and can run for up to two years. You should contact us if there is a reason you need longer than six weeks to commence your project.  

    If you're a school, or an organisation working with a school

    Your project should involve and benefit the community outside of the school. The project must be delivered outside of statutory curriculum hours. 

    If your project involves football 

    We'll support football projects as the main activity, or part of a multi-activity offer, where it can demonstrate one, or more, of the following:  

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

    Flooding (only while applications are open)

    We can fund emergency costs to help restore sports facilities and activity venues. Examples include:

    • 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 can't fund

      Unfortunately, we can't fund everything and this fund won'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 involves altering an existing facility 

      We can support minor facility alterations where they achieve 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, or provide confirmation that you don't need, the relevant planning permission/building control consent and/or landlord approval.

      Your application won't be successful unless you include this information in your application.  

      We won't be able to support facility alterations where, after the funding decision, there remains a funding shortfall that prevents the work commencing within six weeks. 

      Flooding (only while applications are open)

      The funding is only designed to help with the initial clear up to enable activity to resume. We won’t fund the following costs:

      • loss of stock
      • replacement of damaged equipment
      • loss of income
      • goods or services valued in-kind (you'll be 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 are predominantly used for affiliated / competitive league football – any funding request for projects that include football will need to clearly show they are a multi-activity facility.
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    Costs we can and can't fund

    • We can fund

      Provided your project meets one of the four aims for the programme, we can fund a wide range of costs and items. These are:

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

      Unfortunately we can't fund everything - below is a list of costs our Small Grants Programme can'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 are 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 is a statutory responsibility – e.g. curriculum time delivery 
      • costs for delivering a high-risk sport where the applicant, or the coaches delivering the activity, are 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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    Applying

    How to apply 

    • Apply at least 12 weeks before you need the funding.  
    • Check who can and cannot apply before filling out the application form.  
    • If you're unsure, please contact us.  
    • If you've not applied before, you'll need to register your organisation before you can start an application – you can do this here.

    If it's difficult for you to complete an application form

    You can contact us if you have any communication support needs. We're happy to talk about other ways for you to tell us about your idea. 

    We only have a certain amount of funding to award 

    We receive a lot of applications and many of them are for worthwhile projects. This means we must make some tough decisions around which projects we can fund.  

    We'll prioritise projects that supports our focus of investing more in those that need it most. We'll do this by supporting projects that can demonstrate one of these things: 

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

    To see which area your project locations fit into, you can use this postcode checker.  

    What you need to apply 

    We don't require you to provide any supporting documents at the time of application. 

    However, we'll need to undertake some checks on your organisation so may request documents such as accounts or governing documents from you if we're looking to support your project. 

    If you have project plans, budgets, letters of support or videos that show the impact of your work then feel free to upload them or provide links to them when you submit your application. 

    For sports we deem higher risk, appropriate affiliation to the national governing body will be required. 

    We ask for the contact details and home addresses of two different people from your organisation and need a different email address for each person.

    One person should be someone we can talk to if we have any questions about your project. The other should be a senior member of your organisation, who will be legally responsible for the funding. Both need to live in the UK. 

    Should you be successful in securing grant funding, you'll be required to provide evidence of a bank account set up in the name of your organisation.  

    Preparing your application 

    Please remember, we don't have any prior information about your project or your situation. You can use the application to tell us about the most important things such as: 

    • Why have you been motivated to deliver this project and why is it important to local people and their community?
    • What do you want to achieve by delivering the project?
    • How will you deliver the project?

    Further prompts and help are available as you complete the application form - you can access the form through our Application Portal

    Help and support 

    The following tools and resources may prove helpful in the development of your application or your organisation more generally. 

    For all enquiries, please telephone our Funding Helpline on 03458 508 508 or email funding@sportengland.org, we're open 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday. 
     

    Submit your application

    We're looking for the best ideas, not the best written applications, and you should only write something you think really helps us understand how good your project is.

    Focus on the points detailed above and use the guidance available by clicking on the '?' icon next to each question on the application form for more help.

    Apply now

    After you've applied

    After you send us your application, we'll get back to you with a decision in around 12 weeks.

    During these 12 weeks, we look at your idea and do our security checks. We might give you a call within those 12 weeks, to talk a little more about your idea or ask for more information. 

    • If you're successful

      We'll send you an email with the good news.

      We'll then issue you an Award Agreement for you to sign and return. Once we have received this, you will be able to commence your project.

      Delivering your project: you should spend the funding the way you said you would in your application (unless we have agreed to something different first). We might check in from time to time – to see how things are going.  

      Share your story: let people know about your project and the amazing work you're doing in your community. Sharing news about your project with your community can be a fantastic way to keep them involved and engaged. You can learn more about how to publicise your project here

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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. 

    We're inviting applications from projects that focus on supporting inactive and less active people to become more active, while reducing our impact on the environment - projects that can deliver both environmental and physical activity benefits for your community.

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

    The ideas should particularly benefit those experiencing greater disadvantage and all projects must have 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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