The Emerging Futures Fund

Out of the BluePrint

We want to find out how to help communities move towards recovery and renewal after the impact of COVID-19 and draw on all the creativity we’ve seen in communities and across civil society. So we’re funding organisations to look at how things are changing, what is needed in this transition, and what is possible in the future

Funding size
£20,000 - £50,000
Total available
£1 million over 3 to 6 months
Application deadline

Applications are now closed


The Emerging Futures Fund is now closed

We're no longer accepting applications for the Emerging Futures Fund. If you submitted an application, we might get in touch to ask more questions. We'll email you to let you know whether we'll fund your project by 31 July 2020.

If you have any questions in the meantime

Contact us at

The projects we fund 

COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work in our communities 

The pandemic has caused a great deal of hardship,  and presented new challenges to communities across the UK. It has also created space for changes and new ways of doing things that we might not have thought of before.   

So we’d like to support communities to consider how they can start the transition from the immediate crisis, towards recovery and renewal.

We want to invest in the creativity of civil society and help amplify the voices of communities through stories, narratives and public imagination projects that can lead to new ideas, questions and visions of the future. We value the power of storytelling and we know that people and communities are able to use stories and narratives to talk about ideas for the future and how to get there, as well as practical ways that can help us move toward recovery and renewal.

We'd like to give communities support to shape the future 

To help communities shape the future, we’d like to give you funding to explore questions, use stories and create narratives about what your community has learned in how it’s responded to the challenges of COVID-19, and reflect on what else your community might want for the future. For example, this could be about looking at new ways of working or kinds of relationships that communities have set up through their crisis response.   

We want communities to explore  

  • what they want to keep doing because it’s been working well  
  • what they want to leave behind as they start thinking about moving into recovery and renewal 
  • any new ideas that will help when it comes to rebuilding and renewal.   

We also want communities to help shape what should be done next  

By giving you this funding to ask these questions now, you’ll be helping shape what needs to be done next to support communities. We know that more investment will be needed in the long-term. But these grants offer a way for communities to have informed what that looks like.   

You can read our blog to find out more about the background of The Emerging Futures Fund and why we want to fund this type of work.

We’re looking to fund 3 different types of work:   

 1. Exploring new narratives, perspectives and community storytelling 

What we mean by stories and narratives
 In a story something happens to someone or something. Stories usually also have a beginning, middle and end. Narratives hold together collections of related stories.    

It’s possible to use stories and narratives to create changes in society. This is because they shape the way we think about, feel and connect with other people. People and communities can use stories to talk about their ideas for the future and how to get there. Read more about stories and narratives. 

We want to fund projects that can create narratives that:    

  • look at the stories emerging from them pandemic, to find out who, or what, needs to be focussed on more 
  • explore new kinds of relationships that have formed in response to COVID-19 
  • show what is most important to communities  
  • help inspire community togetherness after the pandemic 
  • show where new kinds of infrastructure are being created, and why it’s valuable.  

A typical project that we’d want to fund might be an organisation with demonstrable experience in narrative practice and storytelling, working in partnership with a group of civil society organisations who have stories to tell and insights to share about how they are responding to and changing through the COVID-19 crisis.   

We’re looking for organisations or partnerships thatcan show:    

  • an understanding of best practice in when it comes to narrative approaches   
  • how to segment audiences 
  • experience of revealing insights about local communities   
  • experience of using storytelling, narrative and framing methods to influence change   
  • how they draw on different approaches to ensure there are no barriers to anyone that wants to participate 
  • how they enable voices that are often heard less, to be at the centre of stories 
  • experience of working with impacted communities 
  • how they work in the open, and how they document and share learning as they go. 

2.Community foresight and public imagination     

What we mean by community foresight and public imagination
Sometimes it can be difficult to stop thinking about the present. This can make it harder for communities to shape how things will look in the future, or think about possibilities we haven’t imagined before.    

To successfully design for a future, it can help to have a picture of that future – and people trained in community foresight and public imagination can help to do that. Read more about community imagination, social dreaming and social imagination.

We want to fund projects that:   

  • put diverse voices at the centre, and in the lead 
  • activate and strengthen social imagination in communities so that the voices and ideas of local communities can contribute to the renewal of civil society 
  • support communities to develop and use community foresight practices together 
  • develop approaches with communities to create collective visions and demonstrate practical ways for those visions to be acted upon 
  • know how to use what they’ve learned from their project to influence change. 

A typical project that we’d want to fund might be an organisation with demonstrable experience in foresight, futures or social imagination methods working with a range of different people and voices in a community or with a network of civil society organisations.    

We’re looking for organisations or partnerships that can show:   

  • experience in different approaches for social imagination experiments    
  • experience in using foresight and futures methodologies and making them accessible and meaningful to communities   
  • how they draw on different approaches to ensure there are no barriers to anyone that wants to participate 
  • how they enable voices that are often heard less, to be at the centre of stories 
  • how they work in the open, and how they document and share learning as they go. 

 3. Investing in strong signals of transformation    

We want to fund projects that:    

  • can show practical ways about where we go from here   
  • need resource to develop their idea so that when the time is right the idea is more likely to be adopted
  • can show us why they think the time is right for their idea 
  • can show us how they’ve responded to different challenges - like different patterns of work, community togetherness and the valuing of relationships. 

A typical project that we’d look to fund might be an idea for new types of community infrastructure that can support the groundswell of local initiative and care that sprung up through the Covid-19 crisis. Or a project to develop new forms of work which are good for people, purpose and capabilities.     

We’re looking for organisations or partnerships that:    

  • have an idea that’s already being tested but needs more funding  
  • have an idea that shows where we need to go from here 
  • enable voices that are often heard less, to be at the centre of stories 
  •  work in the open, and will document and share learning as they go.  

We expect that the projects we fund might create a range of different outputs, such as: 

  • films 
  • audio or podcasts 
  • written pieces 
  • slide deck 
  • booklets 
  • newspapers 
  • different kinds of shareable content (such as GIFs or Twitter cards) 
  • toolkits 
  • online murals 
  • website platforms.    

But these are only a few ideas. 

Who can apply

You can apply if you’re a:

  • voluntary and community organisation 
  • registered charity 
  • charitable incorporated organisation 
  • social enterprise 
  • group of organisations, if they are led by a voluntary and community organisations or social enterprise 
  • Community Interest Company (with two or more directors, see the bullet points below for CICs we can’t fund). 

We might sometimes fund unincorporated groups. But we’d normally expect the groups to use our funding to incorporate and, where appropriate, register as a charity.  

Wecan’taccept applications from:

  • statutory bodies 
  • schools 
  • individuals 
  • sole traders 
  • organisations based outside the UK 
  • anyone who is applying on behalf of another organisation 
  • organisations that don’t have at least two people on their board or committee who aren’t married, in a civil partnership, in a long-term relationship, living together at the same address, or related by blood 
  • organisations that can pay profits to directors, shareholders or members (including Companies Limited by Shares and CIC’s limited by shares).
What you can spend the money on

We expect projects to use most of the funding from this programme on paying staff salaries. But you can also spend the money on digital tools to support your work, if you need to.  

We imagine a lot of the projects we fund through this programme will take place online, because of social distancing rules. So we expect projects to think about how to involve people who are digitally excluded, or need support with their digital capabilities.  

If you're planning to deliver your project in Wales
Have a think about how much it would cost to translate any materials, to make sure Welsh-speaking communities can get involved in the project.

We can fund:

  • staff salaries 
  • project activities 
  • engagement activities 
  • running costs 
  • equipment. 

We can’t fund:

  • activities that generate profits for private gain 
  • religious activity or content (although we are able to fund religious organisations if they are providing benefit for the wider community) 
  • activities that replace government funding  
  • activities that benefit individuals, rather than the community 
  • costs you’ve already spent money on  
  • loan repayments.