Bringing People Together

Connect 4 Women

The social fabric of communities across the UK is strengthened and deepened through bringing people together, in new and lasting ways.

This is funding from our UK Portfolio. The UK Portfolio is where we explore new approaches, experiment with how to do things differently, and look to fund work that is more future focussed. 

Our Bringing People Together funding can support projects that will build stronger connections across communities, and improve the infrastructure and conditions that are needed to strengthen these connections.

We’re interested in:

  • bold and experimental responses to bringing people together using new, or new combinations of approaches
  • new projects or projects that build on existing work
  • a range of projects reflecting a mix of communities and places from across the UK.

We recognise that most community-led projects will bring communities together in some way. However, in this programme, we are specifically interested in funding projects that meet at least one of the priorities listed in 'What we're hoping to fund’.

And we expect all projects to:

  • deliver across at least two countries in the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales)
  • have a clear equality, diversity and inclusion focus
  • demonstrate they can learn and adapt as they go.

We expect to make up to 20 awards in 2021 to 2022, and we’ll have to make difficult decisions about what we’re able to fund. 

Read through the priorities carefully (as well as the eligibility checker in the application form) to see if this programme’s right for your proposal. 

At application stage, we’re interested in hearing about your ideas and plans, rather than a detailed project description. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic still with us, we’ll continue to work flexibly. This will also need to be the same for projects in the way they can adapt to ongoing/new guidance and restrictions. 

Suitable for
Voluntary and community organisations
Funding size
up to £300,000 in total for up to two years
Application deadline


How to apply

You can apply via our online application form 

The form is asking for only the information we need at this stage. Please answer as fully as possible. We’ll contact you about any additional information that we might need for us to make an early decision about your application.  

We’ll ask you to tell us about your idea and how it fits with the areas we are focussing on. We want to know:

  • what it is you’re hoping to change
  • how you’ll support communities to make long-term change (especially if your project is about delivering public events)
  • how your idea can support powerful and thriving communities.

If we’re interested in taking your idea any further, we’ll contact you to discuss it in more depth.  

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

You can contact us if you have any communication support needs or any difficulties with completing the form. We’re happy to talk about alternative ways for you to tell us about your idea, like:

  • an Easy Read version of the application form and guidance
  • a PDF version of the application form
  • a British Sign Language (BSL) version of the application form and guidance.

Apply online

What information you need to apply

We ask for the contact details of the main contact for your application

This should be someone we can talk to if we have any questions about your project.

We ask for the legal name of your organisation and its address

Make sure these are up to date and match up with any information or identity documents we may ask for.

We also ask you to read and agree to our terms and conditions

Read our terms and conditions.

Applying by video

If you’d like to apply by video, you still need to start filling in the application form, but you can send us a link to a video about your project instead of writing about your idea in the form.

We’ve provided full guidance in the application form, but if you have any questions, email us at

What happens after you apply

1. You send us your application –  we’ll assess your application.  Demand for funding is high, so we’ll only be able to take applications that most strongly meet the criteria to the next stage.

2. We’ll take some early decisions about the applications that best meet the criteria in ‘What we're hoping to fund’. We’ll aim to tell you if you’ve been successful in progressing to the next stage of the process within six weeks of submitting your application.

3. If you’re invited to the next stage, we’ll ask for more information about your project – we’ll contact you to discuss your application in more depth. We’ll also send you a short form with more details about your organisation and the main contacts for the project. We'll use the information in this form to update our records and carry out some security checks. (Find out more about the checks we do.) We’ll also ask you about your proposed budget. If you’re not sure about how much you want to apply for, we can discuss this with you.  We’ll aim to tell you the decision within four months of being invited to the second stage.

4. We’ll make a decision – your request will be considered by one of our funding committees.

5. If your application is successful – we'll contact you with the good news! Once you’ve been awarded funding from us, here’s what to expect. This page will also let you know about the things you need to do.

We’ll also discuss how we can support you to:

  • celebrate and promote your funding
  • share your learning with others including other grant holders and future applicants to contribute to wider collaborations in these areas.
Who can and cannot apply

Who can apply

We're particularly interested in projects led by, or supporting people and communities who have been disproportionality affected by COVID 19. These include communities experiencing ethnic or racial inequity, discrimination or inequality, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, and people who’re seeking asylum or who are refugees. We want to see more people across these communities represented in our funding.  

We can support a wide range of organisations and welcome applications from both larger and smaller organisations.

We can accept applications from consortiums or partnerships. In this case, a lead partner will need to take responsibility for the application process.

You can apply if you have a current grant from The National Lottery Community Fund. We’ll consider how this funding would complement and impact on existing awards during the assessment process. If there’s a high demand for this funding, we may need to prioritise organisations that do not already have grant funding from us.

Your organisation also needs to be one of the following:   

  • registered charity   
  • community interest company (CIC)
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) 
  • community benefit society 
  • co-operative society (if it has a not-for-profit clause and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority) 
  • voluntary or community organisation   
  • statutory body (including town, parish and community councils) 
  • company limited by guarantee (if it has a not-for-profit clause or is a registered charity). 

Board or committee members 

 It’s essential that organisations that apply have at least two people on their board or committee who are not related.

 By related, we mean: 

  • married to each other 
  • in a civil partnership with each other 
  • in a long-term relationship with each other 
  • living together at the same address 
  • related by blood. 

We cannot accept applications from:

  • individuals   
  • sole traders   
  • organisations focused on making profits and sharing these profits privately - including companies limited by shares, organisations without the right asset locks, or organisations that can pay profits to directors or shareholders
  • organisations based outside the UK   
  • applications made by one organisation on behalf of another   
  • schools.

If you’re not sure if you can apply

Contact us. The team will be happy to help. You can also check what other funding programmes you might be able to apply to.

What we’re hoping to fund 

What we’re likely to fund 

We recognise that most community-led projects will bring communities together in some way. However, in this programme we’re particularly interested in projects that focus on one or more of the following priorities:  

  • builds connections across communities, not just within existing communities. We’re looking for projects that can foster a positive sense of belonging by reducing divisive ‘us and them’ attitudes
  • supports and explores what’s needed to connect communities and enables stronger collaboration to bring people together and keep people together - community infrastructure like networks, shared resources or coordinated approaches, or supporting infrastructure organisations that support the work of other groups
  • focuses on creating longer-term change. This could mean a focus on improving the conditions available to communities to help create this change instead of only delivering services or a series of public events
  • explores what best practice and new approaches to bringing people together look like since the outbreak of COVID-19 
  • brings people together around climate action in communities
  • builds collective action and strengthen communities’ own abilities to have control, influence and agency on the things that matter most to them (collective efficacy). For example, activity that has a focus on strengthening civic participation or civic power by providing opportunities to bring people together from across different communities for collective action in new and interesting ways.

All projects will need to:

We’re also interested in bold and experimental responses to bringing people together using new, or new combinations of approaches. We can support new projects or projects that build on existing work.

We'll support a range of projects

We're keen that projects reflect a mix of communities and places from across the UK. However, we're particularly keen to:

  • support projects led by - or supporting - people and communities who have been disproportionality affected by COVID 19
  • make sure that there's a geographical spread of funding across the UK
  • support projects that are open for everyone and can show what proactive action has been taken to ensure any potential barriers for participation will be addressed - particularly for disabled people,

    communities experiencing ethnic or racial inequity, discrimination or inequality, LGBTQ+ people and people who are seeking asylum or are refugees.  We also recognise that there may be some circumstances where projects will only work with specific communities - explain why that's necessary in your application

  • supports projects which consider the principles within the Fund-wide strategic framework
  • support projects that will connect with each other, and share approaches and learning. We'll offer some more support to the awarded projects as a whole group and we'll discuss what this activity could look like at the assessment stage.

We'll take these factors into account when assessing your application against others that we receive.

We want to hear from you and your ideas on what kind of projects can support the priorities we’ve outlined. We understand that bringing people together comes with uncertainty at this time, so we welcome projects that are testing new ideas. We’re comfortable with uncertainty - we want to understand what we can do to build capacity in communities and learn from your experiences. 

We expect demand for this funding to be high and we’re only expecting to make up to 20 awards in 2021 to 2022. This means we’ll have to make difficult decisions about what we’re able to fund. Read through the information about our priorities carefully and use the ‘eligibility tracker’ to identify if this programme is right for your proposal. If in doubt, email us to arrange to speak to someone before you apply. 

We’ve written more about why we’re opening this funding in this blog.

What we’re unlikely to fund 

We think it’s important to be clear about what is not likely to be eligible, as well as what is. We’re unlikely to fund: 

  • one-off celebratory events and projects that are focussed on service delivery without any clear longer-term sustainability or evidence of impact
  • projects that are exclusively transferring their activities to deliver online
  • place-based activities which are exclusively focussed on a community space or hub in one area and does not deliver across a minimum of two UK countries - this may be more suitable to other funding programmes
  • projects that cannot show how the wider community has informed its design and development.

Delivering your project in Welsh 

If your project will be delivered in Wales as one of the countries within the UK, you'll need to be aware of The National Lottery Community Fund’s grant condition on working bilingually. All services provided by the project will need to be available in Welsh and English at the same time across all communities in Wales. Read our guidance on managing your project bilingually.  

What you can spend the money on

We can fund things like:

  • staff costs 
  • development work (testing new ways of working, staff training and development, developing governance, tech or IT upgrades/purchases, sharing learning) 
  • transport 
  • utilities/running costs 
  • volunteer expenses 
  • equipment  
  • capital costs (we can consider funding capital costs but do not anticipate these costs to be a significant amount of the proposed budget)
  • costs associated with delivering your project bilingually in Wales such as translation costs.  

 If you’re invited to the next stage, we’ll talk to you to agree what the funding will cover. 

We cannot fund:

  • statutory activities and activities that replace government funding (for example, we can only fund school activities that happen outside of normal teaching hours) 
  • loans, endowments or interest 
  • paying someone else to write your application 
  • political activities, including lobbying 
  • activities where a profit will be distributed for private gain
  • fundraising activities  
  • VAT you can reclaim 
  • alcohol 
  • things you’ve spent money on in the past and are looking to claim for now  
  • items which will only benefit an individual, rather than the wider community 
  • religious activities (but we can fund religious organisations if their project benefits the wider community and does not include religious content). 

If you’re unclear about what we will and will not fund, email us.

UK’s international obligations on subsidy control

As a result of Brexit and the end of the transition period, the United Kingdom (UK) has left the European Union (EU).

From 1 January 2021, the funding that the Fund distributes is now subject to the UK’s international subsidy control commitments. A subsidy can only be awarded where strict rules are followed.

When developing your application, it’s important that you consider the UK’s international subsidy commitments and how to make your project compliant. If you have concerns, you should seek legal advice.

You can find more information about the UK’s international subsidy control commitment from 1 January 2021 on the GOV.UK website.

Reducing your environmental impact  

  • We all have a responsibility to protect the environment for future generations. This includes the communities and projects we support. Find out more about how to reduce your environmental impact on the GOV.UK website, and on our website. 
  • We’ll expect all funded organisations and any partners to consider their environmental impact and to have relevant policies and procedures in place. 

If you’re ready to start your application

Apply online

If you’re not sure if you can apply 

Contact us. The team will be happy to help. You can also check what other funding programmes you might be able to apply to.