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Funding FAQs

Am I eligible?

What do you fund?

Most of our funding is for capital infrastructure, i.e. buildings (new build or refurbishment) and equipment and we only award grants to charities or organisations with charitable status (or equivalent). You will find more details on eligibility criteria within the relevant category under Funding for Places

I am looking for funding for myself – can I apply?

Although we do fund bursaries, scholarships and fellowships, you cannot apply for these directly to us.  You can check whether you are eligible to apply through a partner organisation under Funding for People.

Are there things you don’t fund?

Our grants cannot cover certain costs, such as VAT or professional fees. We don’t fund projects where the total cost is below £15,000. Within each programme area, there may be other specific things we don’t fund, check the eligibility criteria within the relevant category under Funding for Places.

How do you define excellence?

Our intention is that a Wolfson award demonstrates that the applicant has reached a certain level of excellence – a gold standard as well as a grant. In this way we hope to promote and support excellence.

Excellence is however defined differently within each of our programme areas. While, for example, a university would be expected to demonstrate international competitiveness in their research, a grassroots charity providing facilities for people with disabilities in a particular locality would need to show a level of professionalism and demonstrate excellence in delivering real benefits to those it supports. We  also want to enable access to excellent organisations and education – hence some of our scholarships and bursary programmes.

Do you fund Community Interest Companies?

No, unfortunately not. We only fund charities or organisations with charitable status (or equivalent) but not CICs.

Where do you fund?

Are you a UK funder?

Over 95% of our funding is within the UK, and we welcome applications from all parts of the UK. Our emphasis is on excellence, not on any particular part of the UK.  We run a small number of proactive programmes outside the UK, but these are not open to speculative applications.

How much can I ask for?

Should I ask for a specific amount?

We prefer that you do not request a specific amount. In a Stage 1 application, we simply want to know the total cost of your project and the amount you still need to raise towards it. In a Stage 2 application, you will be asked to provide a breakdown of costs for each element/stage of your project, toward which we might be able to allocate a grant.

How much might I be awarded?

The size of our grants vary greatly across different categories. For an idea of how much you might reasonably hope to receive should your application be successful, please refer to the Need to know section on each of the specific categories pages available from the Funding for Places page. You may also wish to look at our list of recent awards to see what amounts similar organisations/projects have received.

Match funding

Do I need to have match funding in place before applying?

In most cases, we expect match funding to be in place at the point of submission of a Stage 2 application (unless the total cost of the project is under £50,000). Match funding may include funds committed by your organisation, funds already received, as well as confirmed pledges. In the case of Heritage Lottery Fund, we generally accept a stage 1 pass as match funding.

What costs can be included in match funding?

Match funding may include any capital costs, including VAT and professional fees, related to the project. It should not include non-capital costs such as staff costs or other core funding costs.

How do I apply?

Making an application

Please see the How to apply section under each specific category on the Funding for Places page. Once you’ve checked that your project is eligible, you can submit a Stage 1 application via our online forms at the bottom of the Funding for Places page.

When should I apply?

We have two funding rounds each year, and details of deadlines and timing of applications are in the When to apply section for your specific category under Funding for Places. As our assessment procedures are rigorous, it is usual for the time between submission of a Stage 1 application and the outcome of a Stage 2 application to be at least five months. It is advisable to submit a Stage 1 application as soon as details of your project’s costs and timetable are available.

Which programme area should I apply to?

We have listed the places we fund on the Funding for Places page. Please select the relevant category which will direct you to further information on eligibility.  If you are an individual looking for funding , please visit our Funding for People page but note that we do not accept speculative applications for these grants.

Can I meet you? Do you conduct site visits?

Meetings and site visits are not a formal part of our review process. As such we tend only to hold meetings with applicants or potential applicants when there is a specific matter to discuss. With a relatively small staff team it is simply not possible to meet a large proportion of applicants. We may not therefore be able to agree to requests for meetings, but we are always very happy for you to telephone us should you need any specific advice. We hope, however, that this website answers the majority of queries.

Staff or trustees may visit as part of the monitoring of a project once an award has been agreed.

Stage 1 applications

Do you comment on draft applications?

Due to the number of applications that we receive, we are not able to formally provide comments on draft applications. We are however happy to answer any specific questions you may have over the telephone. It is helpful to direct questions to the relevant programme manager so, when you call, please be ready to state the category under which you wish to apply.

How do I apply?

Please see the How to apply section under each specific category on the Funding for Places page. Once you’ve checked that your project is eligible, you can submit a Stage 1 application via our online forms at the bottom of the Funding for Places page.

When should I apply?

We have two funding rounds each year, and details of deadlines and timing of applications are in the When to apply section for your specific category on the Funding for Places page. As our assessment procedures are rigorous, it is usual for the time between submission of a Stage 1 application and the outcome of a Stage 2 application to be at least five months. It is advisable to submit a Stage 1 application as soon as details of your project’s costs and timetable are available.

Which programme area should I apply to?

We have listed the places we fund on the Funding for Places page. Please select the relevant category which will direct you to further information on eligibility.  If you are an individual looking for funding, please visit our Funding for People page but note that we do not accept speculative applications for these grants.

Who should I address my Stage 1 application letter to?

Stage 1 applications should be made using our online application forms (available via the relevant funding page in Funding for Places). You will need to attach a cover letter from the Chief Executive (or equivalent) of your organisation, and this should be addressed to our Chief Executive, Paul Ramsbottom.

Do I have to make my Stage 1 application online?

It is generally more convenient for Stage 1 applications to be made online, both for the applicant and for our staff. If however, you are unable to apply via the online system, we are still able to consider paper based applications. Before completing a paper based application, you should read the advice on this site in the relevant programme area on the Funding for Places pages. You will also need to send audited accounts for the past two years.

Can I receive feedback on my Stage 1 application?

We receive many hundreds of applications each year and unfortunately it is not possible to provide detailed feedback in all instances. We do, however, provide detailed feedback to all unsuccessful Stage 2 applicants.

Reviewing an application

How do you define excellence?

Our intention is that a Wolfson award demonstrates that the applicant has reached a certain level of excellence – a gold standard as well as a grant. In this way we hope to promote and support excellence and the pursuit of excellence.

Excellence is however defined differently within each of our funding categories. While, for example, a university would be expected to demonstrate international competitiveness in their research, a grassroots charity providing (for example) facilities for people with disabilities in a particular locality would need to show a level of professionalism and demonstrate excellence in delivering real benefits to those it supports.

How will my application be assessed?

We are committed to careful review and as such run a rigorous assessment process. This includes a review of your organisation’s finances, as well as expert assessment by internal panels and external reviewers. Although our review process is rigorous, we strive to be as ‘light touch’ as possible with our applicants.

Do I have to nominate a reviewer?

You do not need to nominate a reviewer for a Stage 1 application. At Stage 2, we provide all applicants with the opportunity to nominate an independent reviewer. This should be someone who is independent of your organisation (and not retained by them, such as for example, the project architect). It may be useful to nominate a reviewer who might provide a helpful perspective on the project and its merits, either as someone from within the relevant sector or discipline or who knows the local area in which you operate. There is no requirement to nominate a reviewer, and your application will not be disadvantaged if you choose not to, as we send all applications out to our own carefully selected, independent reviewers.  

Common questions about buildings

Why do you only fund capital projects?

We believe that continued investment in and maintenance of infrastructure is vital for organisations across the sectors that we fund. We are conscious both of the pressures on capital funding and the fact that relatively few funders have the scale to provide significant funding toward large scale capital projects. We do, however, run a number of targeted programmes providing funding for people through our partner organisations

Does my organisation have to own the building where the work is taking place?

No, we will also consider organisations that have a secure, long-term lease on a building. Generally, there should be at least 15 years to run on the lease at the time the application is made (assuming the project is for major refurbishment work).

Will you fund the cost of deliveries for the building work?

No, unfortunately we do not fund these.

Stage 2 applications

Why do you have a two stage application process?

We fund within carefully defined areas. To ensure your project is eligible, and to save applicants, staff and our external reviewers from investing unnecessary time and effort, we request a Stage 1 application that requires only brief information. This ensures that organisations invited to submit more detailed Stage 2 applications are eligible for funding programmes (and, although of course funding is not guaranteed, a large proportion of Stage 2 applicants do receive funding).

Can I submit my Stage 2 application online?

Science & Medicine, Health & Disability and Arts & Humanities: Stage 2 applications should be emailed to the Programme Manager named in your invitation letter. You can find detailed information on the content and format of your Stage 2 application on our Application Guidance page.
Secondary Schools & Sixth Form Colleges: Applications are submitted via an online application form. With the exception of the Secondary Schools & Sixth Form colleges there is no form (other than a brief summary sheet (PDF) to support applications) or template for Stage 2 Applications. This allows scope for you to present your application in a way that reflects your organisation and brings your project to life. We feel that this allows us to better understand your organisation and project than would be the case from a prescriptive, online form. Please refer to our Stage 2 guidelines for more details on the content and format of your application.

Can I receive feedback on my Stage 2 application?

Yes, we are happy to provide feedback on unsuccessful Stage 2 applications (generally by telephone conversation).

Reapplying

How soon can I reapply after receiving a grant?

Generally, we ask that you wait some five years between the date an award is offered (not paid) and submitting a further application. Please note that we do not consider further grants for a project that we have already supported, so any further applications would need to be for a different project.  Universities are able to apply more frequently, provided applications are for projects in different departments.