Running costs grants are available for small community based organisations working in the most deprived areas of the UK to help people to make positive changes in their lives.

Current Status
Open for Applications
Maximum value:
£ 60,000

Objectives of Fund

The Henry Smith Charity’s Strengthening Communities programme is part of the Charity’s Main Grants programme. The Fund focuses on funding small charitable organisations working at grassroots level, to ensure that funding reaches the most disadvantaged areas of the UK, targeting places that are economically marginalised and affected by poverty.

The Charity’s three main priorities are as follows:

  • Increasing resilience
    Empowering people, encouraging integration and personal independence, helping people to recover and move on.
  • Creating opportunities and life chances
    Raising aspiration – equipping people with new skills, unlocking and enabling potential, and providing the means to improve life circumstances.
  • Empowering communities
    Strengthening and connecting communities and making people feel valued, providing opportunities for social connections and relationships, encouraging participation and inclusion.

Value Notes

Grants of between £20,000 and £60,000 per year are available.

Funding for up to three years is available.

The Charity will not consider making a grant that is equivalent to more than 50% of the projected annual running costs of an organisation.

Applications for continuation funding will be considered.

Who Can Apply

Charities and not-for-profit organisations, including social enterprises, can apply, providing they are both physically based and working within the 10% most deprived areas for England & Scotland and within the 15% most deprived areas for Northern Ireland & Wales on the Government Indices of Multiple Deprivation.

Groups that are not registered charities must have a constitution to demonstrate a charitable purpose.

Community Interest Companies can apply but must provide details of how their constitution prevents funds being removed from the organisation (asset lock).

The funder supports established organisations delivering services directly to beneficiaries and is looking for services which can demonstrate a track record of success, and evidence the effectiveness of the work.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Have an income of between £20,000 and £500,000.
  • Be at least 18 months old and have published annual accounts.
  • Have a track record.

In addition, applicants must be:

  • Working to create lasting change – having a positive impact on people and where possible, creating enduring, sustainable improvements in circumstances.
  • Delivering holistic support – taking a positive approach to the whole person, addressing multiple issues, with those who are in some way excluded or vulnerable.
  • Providing direct service delivery – engaging directly with people to help them to build their capabilities and tackle the root causes of problems.
  • Monitored and evaluated – information is appropriately collected and analysed with successes/failures used to understand and improve services.
  • Clear and consistent about what they aim to achieve as demonstrated through their actions and practice.
  • Responsive to need and well placed to deliver.
  • Well placed to deliver services and aware of what is going on around them.
  • Person centred – the interests of the individual are at the heart of what the organisation does. People are meaningfully involved in developing solutions to the issues they face.
  • Using resources well – high quality, well run organisations that have the skills and capabilities to make proper and e­ffective use of their resources.


Funding is not available for organisations that have:

  • Reserves (net current assets plus investments) covering more than 12 months’ expenditure.
  • An annual income below £20,000 and above £500,000.
  • Applied unsuccessfully within the previous 12 months.
  • Another application under consideration in any other Henry Smith grant programme.
  • An active grant from any other Henry Smith grant programme.

Funding will not support:

  • Proposals for loans or social finance.
  • Proposals that are only for the benefit of one individual.
  • Work that is not legally charitable.
  • Work that has already taken place.
  • Start-up costs, pilot projects or organisations that do not yet have a track record of service delivery, or a year of annual accounts.
  • Capital costs, including new buildings, building refurbishment.
  • New work (work without a track record of success.)
  • Research, scholarships or student fees.
  • Local authorities or work usually considered a statutory responsibility.
  • Schools, colleges or universities, except for special schools exclusively for pupils with disabilities or special educational needs.
  • Organisations that do not provide direct services to clients (such as umbrella, second tier or grant-making organisations).
  • Work that benefits people outside the UK.
  • Uniformed groups.
  • Work that specifically targets current or ex-service men and women.
  • Professional associations.
  • Services that actively seek to proselytise or promote any religion.
  • One off holidays, overseas travel or events (such as festivals, conferences, exhibitions and community events).
  • Healthcare which has a clinical basis including medical care and research, physical therapy, hospices or other palliative care services or specialist equipment.
  • Heritage or environmental conservation projects.
  • Campaigning, lobbying, or general awareness raising work.
  • Work that provides legal advice specifically to support court action.

Eligible Expenditure

Work must align with one or more of the following aims:

  • People from across the community are able to participate in activities that improve connectedness, opportunities and wellbeing.
  • People who are excluded, vulnerable, or facing other forms of hardship have access to community based services that support positive change.
  • A stronger, active and more engaged community.

The funder is looking for the following characteristics in all applications:

  • Delivering holistic support – taking a positive approach to the whole person, addressing multiple issues, with those who are in some way excluded or vulnerable.
  • Providing direct service delivery – engaging directly with people to help them to build their capabilities and tackle the root causes of problems.
  • Community led – the best solutions to social problems are rooted in their community. We want to support organisations that have a clear understanding of the needs of their community and are working with the community to address them.
  • Openness and accessibility – organisations that are committed to equal opportunities and removing barriers to marginalised groups.

How To Apply

Applications can be submitted at any time. There are no deadlines and applications are assessed four times a year, in March, June, September and December.

Applications forms and detailed guidance notes are available to download on the Henry Smith Charity website. Groups must complete and sign the application form and send it to the Henry Smith Charity by post.

Useful Links