/ Funding

Comic Relief Northern Ireland – Community Support Programme


Grants are available to constituted charitable organisations in Northern Ireland for community-based initiatives that address issues around hardship, loss, grief, isolation, inequity and social injustice while recovering from the impact of the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis.

Current Status

Open for Applications

Maximum value:

£ 20,000

Objectives of Fund

The focus of the Programme is to:

  • #No-oneLeftBehind: Recognise and address the issues around social injustice and inequity that have been further unmasked as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Continue to support the generosity of individuals and communities.
  • #BuildBackBetter as communities collectively contribute to developing a more caring, equitable and inclusive society that rebuilds, renews and brings hope for the future.

Value Notes

Grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 are available.

Two thirds of the grant awarded must be spent and verified by 31 March 2021 (only awards over £10,000 will be verified).

Projects must be completed within 12 months of the date of issue of the Grant Aid Agreement.

Who Can Apply

Constituted organisations with charitable purposes operating within Northern Ireland can apply.

Organisations must have an income of £500,000 or below.

Should the Programme be oversubscribed, the following will be prioritised:

  • Organisations with an income level of £250,000 or below.
  • Organisations who have fewer live grants, ie less than four live grants (with the Community Foundation), at any one time.

Organisations who are in receipt of funding from the are eligible to also apply to the Community Support Programme, providing that the application is for a different project, and/or different costs associated.


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • Organisations or activities which promote causes that are contrary to the Foundation’s purposes, such as causes and activities which are linked to the promotion of armaments, alcohol, human rights abuses, tobacco or pornography.
  • Schools. However, they can be involved as partners in a project led by a local community or voluntary sector organisation.
  • Individuals.
  • Trips outside Northern Ireland, holidays away, and one-off residentials.
  • Projects that have already started.
  • Organisations whose purposes or activities include advancement of religion.
  • Establishment of endowment of any school or institution providing further education within the meaning of the education and libraries (Northern Ireland) order 1972.
  • Provision of assistance to any Housing Association within the meaning of the housing (Northern Ireland) order 1976.
  • Payment that directly supports lobbying or activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action.
  • Organisations that advocate the use of violence to campaign or influence public opinion.
  • Organisations which adopt a partisan political stance or activities which are party political.
  • One-off conferences or workshops. However, conferences, workshops and other gatherings can be funded as part of longer-term activities or work.
  • General appeals, individual and group sponsorship, marketing appeals, proposals for bursaries from individuals or proposals from individuals for the funding of study or attainment of qualifications.
  • Work where the long-term institutional care of children or young people is a preferred way of working over the longer term (eg, setting up or running orphanages). Where short-term, temporary institutional care is used as part of an intervention to support children and young people, applicants will need to demonstrate how the work they propose seeks to develop and implement community-based alternatives.
  • Provision of services that are the primary and legal responsibility of the state.
  • Funding to petition for additional funding.
  • Input VAT reclaimable from HMRC.
  • Payments reimbursed or to be reimbursed by other public or private sector funding.
  • Interest payments (including service charge payments for finance leases).
  • Gifts to individuals other than promotional items with a value of no more than £25 a year to any one individual.
  • Purchase of buildings or land.

Eligible Expenditure

The funding is for projects in the following areas:

Child Food Poverty

  • As many jobs have been lost and/or household incomes reduced, many families are struggling to feed their children with nutritious meals that are the foundation for good health in their early years of development.
  • Funding is available for community-based responses to this issue that have the potential to be built upon longer term.

Child Digital Poverty

  • As school learning will potentially be a mixture of class based and remote learning, the digital divide will further increase educational inequalities, limiting the potential of children to maximise their skills and talents.
  • Funding is available for community-based responses that will reduce these inequalities in a way where resources can be shared both within a home and/or a wider community setting.

Gender Based Domestic Violence

  • Funding is available for community-based responses to domestic violence across genders, ethnicity, sexual orientation and age and which take account of all forms of abuse whether physical, sexual, financial, emotional, coercive, digital or honour based. Women, men and children should be supported in their respective recovery journeys in a way that builds confidence, safety, security resilience, self-worth and value.

Taking Care of Returning Back to School

  • Funding is available for community-based responses that assist in the return to school experience in a way that supports children, parents/guardians and staff to rebuild relationships which provides the best educational environment and experience for children.

Responding to Loss and Grief

  • Funding is available for actions that provide opportunities for communities to come together to acknowledge the loss and grief experienced by all within the community which may or may not be directly as a result of COVID-19.

LGBTQ+ Community

  • Funding is available for community-based responses that initially identify the inequalities that have been compounded by the crisis and initiate actions that seek to actively address these issues for the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

  • As one of the most vulnerable and potentially invisible sectors in the community, the impact of COVID-19 in terms of being able to avail of face to face support, access to digital technology, food and services has further added to this vulnerability, invisibility and inequality.
  • Funding is available to enable communities to support refugees and asylum seekers tackle these issues so that they can play a part in building a Northern Ireland that is more welcoming, caring and inclusive.

Racism – Community Based Responses

  • Never before has the issue of racism been more globally highlighted and both the Community Foundation and Comic Relief wish to renew their efforts to support communities to eliminate such prejudice, hatred and bigotry from society.
  • Funding is available for community-based responses that seek to address these issues in a way which develops respect, inclusion, understanding and harnesses the potential of community diversity to build a new society.

Racism – Supporting Structural Change

  • The aim of this part of the Programme is to leave a legacy which sees a shift in fundamental structures across the charity sector, where the sector, leaders and decision-makers reflect the communities that they work with.

The following types of projects will be prioritised:

  • Initiatives that involve and empower those with lived experience #ShiftThePower.
  • Initiatives that involve locally based community organisations.
  • Initiatives that have a clear social impact.

Applicants must factor in the NI Executive Pathway to Recovery plan and updated guidance that is given.

The grants can be used to cover project costs, as well as operational costs to assist in the delivery costs (eg, contribution to salaries, small capital items and general running costs). The Programme will prioritise activities and programmes delivered on the ground, which must make up at least 50% of the grant being requested.

How To Apply

Applications are assessed on a rolling basis until the Programme closes at 1pm on 18 September 2020.

The online application form is available here. 

To support potential applicants the Community Foundation has organised a series of online information seminars and organisations can book a space on one of these seminars on the website of the Community Foundation.