Dormant Accounts NI

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Dormant Accounts Fund NI will support the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in Northern Ireland to be more resilient and prepared for the future by funding activity that increases capacity and sustainability. We hope the programme will support organisations to adapt to future challenges and be more financially resilient.

Dormant accounts are UK bank and building society accounts that have been untouched for 15 or more years, and where banks and building societies are unable to trace the customer who owns the account.

We received policy directions from the Department of Finance in September 2019. These funds are not derived from National Lottery activity. Around £20 million has built up over the past ten years.

Money from Dormant Accounts will continue to be released for us to distribute each year to support capacity-building and increase resilience and sustainability in the Northern Ireland VCSE sector. Given that this is a rolling fund, we're taking a phased and long-term approach to support the sector, based on learning. We are encouraging groups to take their time in developing an idea which will best fit their needs for the future.

For this first phase, we have developed a flexible and responsive grant programme that will support organisations to be able to adapt to future challenges and be more financially resilient. We want to fund organisations that can identify the best way to improve their long-term capacity, sustainability or resilience to best deliver their mission.

We anticipate that we’ll award funding for between one and three years, in order to have the greatest impact for the organisations and the communities they serve. Complete the online application if you have an idea that meets these aims.

We'll also support larger investments that will enable collaboration and develop new and creative approaches to sustainability. These Northern Ireland-wide or sector-specific proposals could focus on specific themes such as volunteering, digital capacity or diversity and inclusion.  These are examples of themes and not set criteria. Contact us directly if you feel this avenue is more appropriate for your idea.

Northern Ireland
Funding size
Up to £100,000 for individual organisations
Total available
If you think you will need more than £100,000 for your project because you're working in partnership, please get in touch.
Application deadline


How to apply

We are accepting applications for the first phase of Dormant Accounts Fund NI. There is no deadline to apply but we are encouraging organisations to take their time and really think about how their project idea will help their organisation become more resilient and sustainable for the future. Organisations must be able to demonstrate how their idea will support the organisation with capacity-building longer term.

Only one grant will be awarded per organisation.

When we talk about capacity-building, we mean building the skills and abilities of staff, volunteers and trustees/board members rather than increasing the number of paid staff. 

The aim of this programme is that the NI voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector will be more resilient and prepared for the future, through increased capacity and sustainability. 

We expect projects to meet the following outcomes: 

  • VCSE organisations will be more confident about their ability to adapt to future challenges 
  • VCSE organisations will be more financially resilient 
  • VCSE organisations will have increased skills and capacity
  • Strategic planning in the VCSE sector will improve 
  • There will be more collaboration within and across sectors. 

If you have a project idea in mind and are ready to apply you can complete the online application form. You can also find some useful advice on applying in this blog.

We have gathered insight and identified some pitfalls from recent applications which might be of help when you are considering your project idea. Read our latest blog to find out more.

Apply online

Related documents

Dormant Accounts Fund NI sample application form for reference only - Sample form (PDF 788 KB)

You can also contact us if you would like to talk through your idea first.

When reviewing your application we consider the following:

  • The extent to which the project meets the aim and outcomes of the Dormant Accounts Fund
  • The extent to which the organisation understands the challenges and opportunities it has in relation to its long-term capacity, sustainability or resilience
  • How well does the project respond to the challenges and opportunities it has identified? What will the long-term impact be for the organisation?
  • The extent to which the project is likely to positively impact on the achievement of the organisations aim or mission
  • How well will the project be managed?
  • Local knowledge – how does the organisation fit with the local or thematic context.

We may get in touch with you to arrange a time to discuss your project idea in more detail. We might also ask for further information to help with our assessment of your project, including a more detailed budget and project plan.

Awards made to date

This is a list of organisations who have received funding through Dormant Accounts Fund NI - Awards made through Dormant Accounts Fund NI (PDF 178 KB).

Already got funding?

Download the logo and read guidance on how to use it to acknowledge your grant.

Reduce your environmental footprint

The National Lottery Community Fund cares about our environment and are always striving to manage our environmental impact. We encourage and support projects and communities to do the same. Learn more about how you can make your project or event more environmentally sustainable and perhaps save money at the same time.

Who can and cannot apply

You can apply if you are currently delivering services in Northern Ireland and are:

  • an unregistered community or voluntary organisation
  • a registered charity (unincorporated)
  • a registered charity and not-for-profit company
  • a not-for-profit company
  • a Community Interest Company
  • a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

You cannot apply if you are a:

  • statutory body
  • school
  • college
  • university
  • religious institution like a church, synagogue, mosque etc. However, faith based groups that are working in a community setting are eligible.

If you’re not sure if you can apply

Contact us.

What  we will fund 

We hope that the Dormant Accounts Fund will support VCSE organisations to:

  • have the confidence, capacity and resources to achieve their aims
  • be flexible, adaptable and strategic with a clear understanding of their environment
  • be sustainable, with financial flexibility and longevity.

Here are some examples of what we could consider supporting through the programme. These are examples and not set criteria: 

  • support for organisations to help them to develop long-term financial sustainability - for example, help them develop and implement financial planning tools or ideas for income diversification
  • collaborations and/or mergers between organisations
  • activity that supports organisations to communicate and connect with other organisations and communities more effectively
  • activity that increases the diversity and skills of volunteers and trustees/committee members within organisations
  • succession planning (identifying and developing new leaders) to support the long-term sustainability of organisations
  • activity that helps organisations to improve the delivery and impact of their work, by using the full potential of digital infrastructure and data analysis tools.

This is not a complete list of what we will fund.

Your application will be unique to your organisation, as it will be focused on improving your sustainability and resilience and supporting your ability for capacity-building longer term.

Here is a list the awards we have made so far through the Dormant Accounts Fund NI - Awards made through Dormant Accounts Fund NI (PDF 178 KB)

What the programme won’t consider

We can’t fund your existing programme delivery or expand the delivery of programmes. The Fund will not be able to help new or emerging organisations to become established. Funding will not cover the cost of supporting organisations to recover from the immediate impact of COVID-19.

If you need help to recover from the immediate impact of COVID-19 or to fund service or programme delivery costs we would encourage you to look at another source of funding.

We’re also happy to chat to you about our National Lottery programmes.

Any questions?

Contact us.

What you can spend the money on

We do not have a list of eligible and non-eligible costs for this programme. We will consider whatever costs you need to be able to achieve the change you want to make for your organisation. But we will not fund capital refurbishment, purchase of buildings, loan repayments or costs for new buildings.

When you complete your application, we will ask you to give broad headings for your project costs. We will discuss these with you during the assessment process and may request a detailed budget.

For example, you might need us to fund salaries to free up time of existing members of staff, personal development and training, leadership programmes, digital capacity, and so on. We will consider any reasonable cost if it’s the best way to achieve the change you are working towards.

You must be able to demonstrate the change you expect the funding to make when you are writing your application. For example, how you will adapt how you work so it doesn’t need to rely on funding once it ends.

If you want to apply for salaries – what will happen when the grant comes to an end? Will you have to apply for more funding? Think about the long-term as your application needs to be strategic.

Consider how your organisation will have changed at the end of the grant. We will be looking for evidence that you have undertaken a thorough review of your organisation and carried out some business or strategic planning to inform your application. And of course, the larger the grant request the more evidence we will expect to see.

Ultimately, we want the Dormant Accounts Fund NI to deliver long-term transformational change for VCSE organisations.

We have gathered insight and identified some pitfalls from recent applications which might be of help when you are considering your project idea. Read our latest blog to find out more.

You can also find some useful advice on applying in this blog.

Any questions?

Contact us

If you're ready to start your application

Apply online