Volunteer Centre Dorset
Volunteer Centre

Small Grants Programme - South West Foundation


2nd October 2018

The Purpose of the Fund
The overall aim of the programme is to support and strengthen small Community Organisations operating in the rural areas, market and coastal towns of the South West Region. The focus will be on activities that enable people from diverse backgrounds to become engaged in their neighbourhoods and communities and to support those organisations that are bringing about real change to the lives of the people who live in those communities.

Priority will be given to:

  • small community organisations that are addressing the needs of people in their communities by engaging people in community activity either as volunteers or as people benefiting from the funded activities
  •  charitable organisations with annual running costs under £25,000 although organisations with slightly larger running costs that can demonstrate a small amount of funding will make a real difference, may be considered in exceptional circumstances if they meet the rest of the criteria

Rural Communities, Market and Coastal Towns

Because of the current funding crisis the Foundation is giving priority to rural areas and small market and coastal towns. This was the focus of our original small grant programme. We are also having to look very carefully at applications from organisations that have received funding from us in the last three years. It is likely that we will only be able to assist those organisations who have had previous grants if they are currently under threat of closure and the funding will assist to stop this happening. Please do talk to us if you are wishing to make a repeat application as we may be able to consider a smaller grant depending on the circumstances.

The Foundation considers rural communities to have the following characteristics:
- Sparse population
- Limited local services
- Poor transport links
- Difficult access to services and information because of geographical dispersement
- Less likely to attract any major funding streams

The Foundation considers market and coastal towns to be those places, which are not large urban conurbations. The Foundation does not currently support applications from Bristol, Plymouth, Gloucester, Swindon and Exeter unless the applicant can demonstrate that the project will assist and/or support people from rural areas and/or coastal and market towns.

The Foundation also wishes to prioritise organisations supporting people most in need in communities including a diverse range of people such as:

  • disabled people including people with learning disabilities
  •  people with mental health problems
  •  frail older people
  •  people who are unemployed or on low incomes
  • carers of people with additional needs
  •  young people who are affected by ‘disadvantage’ in any way
  • people threatened or affected by domestic violence
  • people from the Black and Minority Ethnic Community
  • lesbian, gay and bisexual people
  •  people from Gypsy and Traveller Communities
  • people who are from any other marginalised group
  • women led organisations

The Foundation will NOT consider applications from the following:


  •  whose prime focus is sports or arts (unless these are aimed at working with people who are within one of the Foundation’s priority areas for funding)
  • that do not have charitable purposes
  •  where there is not a clear local management presence or management committee
  • there needs to be at least three members on your board. If you do not have this please speak to us.
  • submitted applications compiled by professional fundraisers without significant and clear involvement of the organisation applying for funding
  • who themselves are grant or fundraising bodies
  • who are constituted as ‘friends of’
  •  The Foundation does not support applications from Community Interest Companies CIC under this programme


  •  for capital building and major refurbishment works
  • for retrospective funding (money already spent)
  • to pay off debts incurred
  •  not operating in the South West region
  • supporting sponsored events including expeditions
  • for research, including medical research
  • for general large appeals
  •  the Foundation can support faith groups but not activities that promote and/or advance religion
  •  for animal welfare
  •  substituting monies or services provided by the statutory sector and/or projects closely associated with the provision of statutory services
  • substituting monies or grants that have previously been provided through Capacity Builders Funding
  • for Party political promotion and campaigning
  •  for fees of professional fundraisers
  •  for educational bursaries
  •  contributing towards the salaries of full time or part time permanent staff (sessional fees are acceptable)
  •  trips abroad
  • unitemised part funding towards larger projects where it is not clear what difference funding from the Foundation will make
  •  funding for large capital items which do not directly benefit users of the service

Equal Opportunities
The Foundation is committed to the principles of equality of opportunity and expects applicants to demonstrate their commitment to equality of opportunity.
Free Reserves
Priority will be given to applicants with less than 12 months running costs in free reserves. If you have a higher level than this you will be asked to demonstrate clear reasons for this.
Your referee should be someone who knows your work well and who is willing to discuss your application with us. They must not be a member of your group, or related to a member.
All organisations must have a constitution or set of rules and a bank account in the name of the organisation with at least 2 signatories. Applications must be made on an application form. We will try and give you a decision within 14 days of receiving your completed form. If you do not have either of these still contact us.

If you have any queries about your eligibility please contact the Foundation on 01373 813088
Please return the completed application form to;

The South West Foundation, The Old Dairy, Woodlands End, Mells, Frome, BA11 3PE



Other News

Volunteer Centre Dorset are thankful for the support from:

Dorset County Council
Dorset Community Foundation
Volunteering Fund