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7 May 2020

Strengthening Civil Society programme: new funding to support civil society through the pandemic

Three new funding streams to support our grantholders and broader civil society undertake legal action related to COVID-19, a commitment of up to £1m this year.
Strengthening Civil Society

Today our Strengthening Civil Society programme, which supports civil society to use the law to achieve social change, is launching three new funding streams to support our grantholders and broader civil society to tackle the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This funding will run throughout 2020 and represents a commitment of up to £1,000,000 to supporting civil society at this time.

Our longer-term plans for this Programme remain the same and you can find an outline of our strategy for the next five years here.

There are three streams of funding:

  1. Supporting legal action related to Covid-19 – open to all

We already know that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on individuals and communities who already experience discrimination and disadvantage.

This fund will support legal action in all its forms – empowering, persuading, challenging – that seeks to protect vulnerable individuals and communities from the impact of Covid-19 and the response to the pandemic from public authorities, businesses, and communities.

It is open to all registered charities, including current grantholders.

Grants of up to £40,000 for one year are available for organisations with relevant and demonstrable legal expertise in the areas they work in and who have an annual income of less than £5m. Please see the Application Guidelines for full eligibility requirements.

Deadlines are staggered throughout 2020. The next deadline is Midday on Thursday 22nd October.

Application Guidelines

Two further streams of funding will support both current grantholders and other organisations which have received funding from this programme (since January 2016):

  1. Operational impacts: small-scale grants of normally under £5,000 to assist organisations whose operations are severely affected by Covid-19
  2. Increase in demand for advice from frontline organisations: grants of up to £30,000 for hub organisations. These are vital organisations which provide expert legal advice to other civil society organisations to drive social change.

All eligible organisations for these funds (2 and 3) will be contacted directly – please do get in touch with us if you are one of them and haven’t received an email.

The following resources may also be useful, particularly if you have not applied to this Programme before:

Framework for effective use of the law by voluntary sector organisations – The Baring Foundation interprets ‘legal action’ in a broad and practical way. This report includes definitions of legal action that ‘empowers, persuades or challenges’ which might also be helpful.

Transforming lives through law – ten examples of civil society organisations using the law for social change. Includes organisations from different sectors deploying a range of legal tools and tactics.

A recent independent Evaluation of the Strengthening Civil Society programme (2015-20)

Other sources of funding

The new Community Justice Fund, which will be administered by the Access to Justice Foundation and the Law Centres Network, has £5.4 million from the Government to help Law Centres and the charitable advice sector to manage increased demand for advice services. A longer list of funding opportunities can be found here.

The Strengthening Civil Society programme is a collaboration with the Legal Education Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.