The Outdoor Partnership

COVID-19 Charities Fund

The Outdoor Partnership

We're distributing the COVID-19 Charities Fund with a grant from the Northern Ireland Department for Communities. This funding programme will provide financial support to charities who have lost income due to the impact of COVID-19 and are not able to cover unavoidable costs until 30 September 2020.

Northern Ireland
Suitable for
Local charities facing severe financial difficulty
Funding size
Up to £75,000
Total available
£15.5 million
Application deadline

Friday 21st August at 4pm


How to apply

Before you apply, make sure to read about what we're funding and who can apply.

Apply online

Use the eligibility checking tool at the start of the application to help you find out if you are eligible to apply.

If you are eligible you can continue completing the application form.

Help with your application
To help local charities with their applications, we are partnering with a number of helper organisations to host online advice sessions.

They are:

  • Northern Area Community Network, Thursday 6th August at 6pm.
  • North Down Community Network, Friday 7th August at 11am.
  • North West Community Network, Monday 10th August at 10am.
  • Fermanagh Trust, Tuesday 11th August at 7.30pm.

To register for an event, contact

We'll ask you about your charity's finances during the application process
You will be asked to provide some evidence to support your application including a copy of your latest bank statement, most recent annual or draft accounts, and you’ll need to complete a financial overview template giving us some detail of how your income and expenditure has been affected by the impact of COVID-19.

The below video tells you a bit more about the financial information we'll ask you for:

If it's difficult or impossible for you to complete an application form
You can contact us if you have any communication support needs. We’re happy to talk about alternative ways for you to tell us about your idea.

If your charity cannot accept National Lottery funding
The Department for Communities has appointed The National Lottery Community Fund to administer this funding programme as after consideration of options it was concluded that this provides the most effective and efficient route to getting the grants to the charities who need them most.

However, it should be noted that the funding source is Government and is not coming from The National Lottery, therefore by applying to The National Lottery Community Fund you will be accessing money from the Government and not from The National Lottery.

What happens after you apply

We anticipate that applications will be assessed and decisions made within four weeks of being received but it could take longer if demand is high. Payment will be made within seven days of acceptance of grant offer.

How we decide who receives funding

This funding is aimed at charities who have found themselves in financial difficulties, having exhausted all other avenues of support including internal reserves, other measures such as the Job Retention Scheme and all available hardship funds.

It is vital that this scheme supports and prioritises those charities who can no longer find a way to sustain their services and are at risk of closure.

The assessment will focus on answering:

  • What is the minimum amount of funding that is needed to cover unavoidable costs until 30th September 2020?
  • The extent to which the charity has put in place credible measures to adapt their services and mitigate the loss of income.
  • The extent to which the community relies on the charity to deliver essential services.

You can look at our Data Protection Statement to see how we use the personal data you give us, and look at this privacy notice to see how we use this data as you're applying for Government funding.

What this fund supports

What this fund supports

The COVID-19 Charities Fund provides access to funding for charities who have exhausted other avenues of support.

The aim of the fund is to ensure that a balanced charitable sector, representative of the diverse interests and needs of Northern Ireland citizens, and of geographic spread, remains in place after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

This funding programme will support this aim by providing financial support to charities who:

  • have lost income due to the impact of COVID-19
  • will not be able to cover unavoidable costs until September 30 2020.

There's only a limited amount of funding to award
We will only be able to provide funding for costs that are unavoidable, so it is important to think about what you can do, or have already done, to reduce your expenditure.

We will not fund new programme activity or costs associated with on-going activity that could be suspended.

If demand is high, priority will be given to those charities that communities rely on the most to deliver services and to ensure equitable distribution.

How much is available and for how long?

This funding will be distributed as a one-off payment of up to £75,000 and is intended to cover a shortfall of unavoidable costs from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

Awards will be made for the amount of money required to cover immediate costs, which will vary in each situation.

If you're not sure whether you should apply

For more information on the COVID-19 Charities Fund, please check our FAQs which should answer most of your questions.

Who can apply

Charities applying must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • have been financially stable prior to the impact of COVID-19 and where The National Lottery Community Fund have no concerns regarding fraud or financial mismanagement
  • be able to demonstrate that their fundraising or trading income has reduced due to the impact of COVID-19 and they have unavoidable costs to cover up to 30th September 2020
  • have unavoidable costs that cannot be covered by existing grants or public funding.

We can accept applications from charities that:

  • were formed on or prior to 31 March 2020
  • are defined by the Charities Act (NI) 2008 as per the description of a charity set out in the Charities Act (NI) 2008
  • submitted an Expression of Intent to register as a charity to the Charity Commission on or before 31 March 2020, or are on the list of organisations waiting to be called forward by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland for registration
  • have been called forward by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland for registration
  • have at least two unrelated people on its board or committee
  • have a UK bank or building society account in the legal name of the charity with at least two unrelated people who can manage the account.

You can also apply if you are a social enterprise or faith-based charity, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

We cannot take applications from charities that:

  • were formed after 31 March 2020
  • submitted an EOI after 31 March 2020
  • were called forward by Commission for registration but failed to apply
  • were called forward by Commission for registration but your application was withdrawn and you never reapplied when invited to do so
  • were called forward by Commission for registration but your application was rejected and you never reapplied when invited to do so
  • have informed the Commission for Northern Ireland that you have or are about to close
  • have never informed the Commission of your existence.

Your organisation is also not eligible to apply if it is a:

  • community amateur sports club
  • Community Interest Company
  • non-charitable social enterprise
  • non-charitable trading arm.

You won’t be able to apply if your charity has received direct COVID-19 support from the following NI Executive departments:

  • Department for the Economy Small Business Support
  • Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant
  • Microbusiness Hardship Fund
  • £6.5m fund for charities released by the Department of Finance for Hospices and charities.
  • Department for Communities Creative Support Fund

If other funding streams are not providing enough cover for the services your organisation is required to deliver, or where the funding has been cut, it is recommended that you have an initial discussion with the funding provider to explore all possible options before applying to the COVID-19 Charities Fund.

It is vital that this scheme supports and prioritises those charities who can no longer find a way to sustain their services.

If your charity receives a significant amount of regular public sector funding you will have to explain why this is insufficient to keep it going in the immediate term.

If you have applied for another COVID-19 non-repayable government grant but don't know if the application has been successful
You can apply to two government grant programmes at the same time. However, you must withdraw your application to the COVID-19 Charities Fund if you receive an award from another source. Likewise, if you receive an award through the COVID-19 Charities Fund you must immediately withdraw your other application for the other government grant.

If your project works with children, young people or vulnerable adults

You need to have a policy in place that explains how they'll be safe. And we might ask to see this policy, if we decide to give you funding. The NSPCC have lots of helpful advice about setting up and following good child safeguarding policies.