Climate Action Fund - round 2

YMCA East Surrey

This programme is now closed for applications, but applications are now open again for Climate Action Fund

The Climate Action Fund (CAF) is supporting communities across the UK to take action on climate change. These communities will demonstrate what’s possible when people lead in this work. With National Lottery funding, they’ll work together, share their learning and be active participants in a broader movement of change.

CAF is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s Environment Strategy. Since April 2013, the Fund has awarded more than £450 million, through over 7,500 grants, to projects that focus on improving the environment to enhance communities and people’s lives.

In 2020, we awarded funding to 23 projects across the UK as part of the first round of the CAF programme, supporting communities to respond to the climate emergency.

This second round will focus on supporting medium-scale to large-scale projects addressing waste and consumption. Our focus remains on place-based, community-led partnerships that will make the changes in their community they believe will have the biggest impact on climate change.

At this initial application stage, we’re interested in hearing about your project, the long-term vision and aims, and how your community has been involved in shaping and deciding what you’ll do. This application should come from one lead partner, which should be one of the eligible types of organisation listed in ‘Who can and cannot apply.

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 adapting to any new guidance or restrictions.

Suitable for
Community-led partnerships
Funding size
We’re offering two types of funding in this round - development funding and full awards. The maximum grant size for development funding is £150,000. For full awards, the maximum available is £1.5 million.
Total available
Around £8 million to £10 million is available for this second round of funding. We expect to make 12 to 15 awards in total in this round, and to award more development grants than full awards.
Application deadline

5pm on 8 April 2021 for your initial idea. If you get to the next stage, we expect the rest of the application process to take six to eight months.

How to apply

This programme is now closed for applications.

What happens after you apply

1. You send us your application – we’ll assess your application against the criteria in ‘What we’re hoping to fund’ and ‘Who can and cannot apply’. We expect to receive more applications than we can fund, so will have to make some tough decisions about which projects are invited 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’ and ‘Who can and cannot apply’.

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 requesting more details about your organisation, your partners and a more detailed budget. We'll use the information in this form to update our records and complete some security checks. (Find out more about the checks we do.) We’ll arrange a chat with you. We’ll also want to chat with your partners. If you’re not sure about how much you want to apply for, we can also discuss this with you.

4. You’ll develop your proposal – we expect this is likely to take up to three months. During this time, we’ll speak with you regularly and discuss any more information that we need from you to help make a decision.

5. We’ll make a decision – your request will be considered by our Climate Action Fund decision-making panel in autumn 2021.

6. 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
  • engage with the wider community
  • share your learning with others.

We’ll also discuss how you can work with the Fund, partners, grant-holders and future applicants to contribute to the wider climate movement.

What happens when?

These are approximate dates:

Applications for phase 1 opens - 24 February 2021

Applications for phase 1 closes - 5pm on 8 April 2021

Stage 1 decisions made and communicated - Within two months of the closing date of 8 April 2021

Assessment period for those invited to Stage 2 - End of May to August 2021

Stage 2 decisions made and communicated - By the end of September 2021 at the latest

Projects expected to start - From the end of October 2021 at the earliest

Who can and cannot apply

Who can apply

We’re looking to invest in community-led partnerships that are made up of a mix of organisations from different sectors. We can fund both new partnerships, and ones that have already been set up. At this stage, we’re looking for the organisation who is best placed to speak on behalf of the partnership, and it must be one of the following types of eligible organisations:

  • voluntary and community organisation
  • registered charity
  • charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
  • not-for-profit company limited by guarantee - you must be a registered charity or have a not-for-profit 'asset lock' clause in your articles of association
  • community interest company (CIC)
  • school
  • community benefit society
  • co-operative society - you must have a not-for-profit 'asset lock' clause in your society rules and also be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

We're particularly interested in projects led by, or supporting, people and communities who have been hardest hit by climate change. We want to see more people across these communities represented in our funding.

We cannot accept applications from:

  • individuals
  • sole traders
  • organisations based outside the UK
  • anyone who’s applying for another organisation
  • 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.

Your partnership

The partnerships we fund must be led by an eligible organisation, but this does not mean that other organisations could not form part of your partnership. For example:

  • the private sector could be an important stakeholder that supports projects to achieve their aims, but they would not be eligible to directly receive any of our funding
  • we’re looking for community-led partnerships so would not expect statutory bodies (including local authorities and the NHS) to lead, but we’d welcome them as part of your partnership
  • some of your partners might work outside as well as inside the place your project is based in, but they’ll know the community and understand what’s important to them.

We're open to different types of partnership. In your application, you can tell us more about your structure and how you'll work together.

Board or committee members

Organisations that apply must have at least two people on their board or committee who are not related. By related, we mean one or more of the following:

  • 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.

All companies who apply must have at least two directors who are not related in any of these ways. This also applies to companies that are also registered as charities.

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.

Follow us on Twitter using #ClimateFundUK for more information about the programme and what we’re doing.

The projects we fund

The focus of our funding will be supporting community-driven projects that address waste and consumption. This will mean different things to different communities, but most people now recognise that we all need to move to more sustainable ways of living.

Funding available

The amount of funding available per application will depend on what each partnership needs at this stage:

  • applicants who need more time to develop their partnership, engage widely or test their approaches can apply for initial development funding (the minimum grant size is £100,000, up to a maximum of £150,000 - the minimum length is 12 months). You may have an opportunity to apply for longer-term funding at a later stage.
  • applicants who have more developed project proposals and might be able to start longer-term plans at an earlier stage can apply for larger, longer-term awards (the minimum grant size is £500,000, up to a maximum of £1.5 million. We expect the length of full awards to be between three to five years). You do not need to have had a Climate Action Fund development grant first to apply for a full award.

Why waste and consumption?

One of the biggest contributing factors behind man-made climate change is that we are using more and more ‘stuff’ and throwing it away ever faster. Modern societies have become characterised by increasing levels of consumption and, subsequently, waste. This increasing consumerism - fast food, fast fashion and ‘single-use’ products - has been a major contributor to the rapid increase in carbon emissions over recent decades.

Communities have a central role to play. They can promote and support the behavioural change and attitude shifts needed to reduce unnecessary waste, and encourage people to switch to more thoughtful ways of consuming. This is not about stopping all consumption but thinking more about what we use and how we use it. Cutting unnecessary waste, and supporting the development of a circular economy, will be key to moving us to a low-carbon society.

For more information about why waste and consumption is an important focus for us, and what that could look like as a community-led project, read our blog.

What we’re hoping to fund

Our focus of waste and consumption covers themes such as the following sub-categories:

  • food waste
  • repair and re-use
  • retail and consumerism
  • waste streams.

This is not a complete list. We’re interested in hearing about other project approaches and we’re not looking for projects to necessarily address all of these sub-categories.

High demand for this funding

We expect that demand for this funding will be high. In round one, we got over 630 initial idea applications and made 23 funding awards. So, if you're applying, make sure your project meets what we're looking for.

In round one, for example, we received a lot of quite similar applications for local projects to start or develop repair cafes and resource libraries. We support these kinds of projects, but we’re not able to support lots of very similar projects or approaches through this particular funding. So, we’re most interested in seeing how such projects can build on what they do by increasing their scope and the number of people they reach.

We want to make sure that we support a range of projects that reflect a mix of communities and places from across the UK.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

How projects consider equity, diversity and inclusion in every aspect of their work is vital. We’re particularly interested in projects focusing on climate justice and addressing social inequalities, and those led by people and communities more adversely affected by climate change.

The projects we fund must also be able to show:

  • how they are community-led - the project will be led and driven by local groups with a deep understanding of local needs, and the idea will have been designed and developed by involving the people who will benefit. We want to see that the project has spoken to people in the community and listened to what they have to say, what they want, why it’s important to them, and how people will be involved.
  • that they’re working in partnership - projects will be place-based, community-led partnerships that bring together a wide range of people and organisations with a shared vision of what local climate action should look like. We know that change involves all parts of society and expect you to be working with multiple partners from different sectors. We’re particularly interested in partnerships that include health and the NHS, local authorities and/or housing associations. We cannot fund organisations aimed at generating profit for private distribution, but we’d encourage partnerships to find ways to work with the private sector. If awarded funding, partnerships will be expected to put in place a partnership agreement (if they have not done so already), specifying how they will work together.
  • their plans for how the project will achieve lasting impact - to maximise the climate benefit, it’s important that the changes made are sustainable beyond the funding we might give. We’re looking for projects that are able to show how their work will support behavioural and lifestyle changes across their community, and potentially longer-term attitude shifts. Whether this is building on work that you’ve been doing for years, or taking a completely fresh approach, we’re particularly interested in projects that can show how their work will point towards wider systemic change.
  • how they will reach more people - projects need to engage with people outside of those already taking climate action and will be able to show clear plans for, and a commitment to, public engagement.
  • their approach to learning and sharing - projects will have plans as to how they’ll measure change and demonstrate the difference the project will make, including how they’ll share their learning to enable and inspire others to take action.

We’re also interested in hearing from groups who are considering different ways to finance their projects, including developing the potential for income generation from non-grant sources.

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 lead organisations and all partners to consider their environmental impact and to have relevant policies and procedures in place.

What we’re unlikely to fund

We’re unlikely to fund:

  • applications that cannot show how the wider local community has contributed to the design and development of the project
  • applications that want to deliver a nationwide project
  • applications from single organisations
  • applications that are about promoting a single organisation’s - or group’s - agenda
  • applications for statutory activities, so many recycling and domestic waste projects are unlikely to be eligible for funding
  • applications that are only looking for capital funding
  • organisations applying for significantly more funding than they have experience of managing, or that significantly increases their annual turnover.

Other possible climate action funding

If this programme is not right for you, or you’ve been unsuccessful in applying, find out about other possible climate action funding.

Delivering your project in Welsh

If you receive funding from The National Lottery Community Fund for a project in Wales, you'll need to deliver it in Welsh as well as English. Read our guidance on managing your project bilingually.

What you can spend the money on

We can fund things like:

  • staff costs
  • volunteer expenses
  • general project costs
  • engagement activities
  • learning and evaluation
  • utilities or running costs
  • organisational development and management costs
  • some capital costs (this could be for buying equipment or buying, leasing, refurbishing or developing land and buildings, or other construction-related work).

Our focus on increasing participation with climate action and supporting lifestyle and behavioural change means we expect that most of our funding will go towards revenue costs. We’ll consider funding capital costs if the partnership can show how:

  • it might facilitate lifestyle and behavioural change
  • it'll broaden participation
  • it'll be financially sustainable (for example, where our funding might unlock more financial investment from other sources).

If you’re applying for funding for a capital project, there will be some key considerations that will need to be in place to ensure you’re ready to deliver your project. For example, you must own the site where the capital spend will be carried out. We recognise this will differ from project to project, so we’ll discuss with you in more detail if you progress to the next stage.

We’d also welcome applications from groups who have a mix of funding incomes for their project.

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
  • 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).

Contact us if you want to chat about whether your project activities can be funded. Remember - this is just the initial idea stage, and we’ll go into more detail with you should you be invited to the next stage of the application process.

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.