Small Grants Scheme Eligibility Criteria

Read through the eligibility criteria below, framed as a Q&A, to find out whether your charity is eligible to apply to the Merchant Taylors' Foundation Small Grants Scheme.

The Scheme is for charities which exist specifically for the good of people in one or more of those boroughs. It’s likely that nearly all the charities funded will be community-based charities in those boroughs. However, we recognise that there are charities focused heavily but not exclusively on these four boroughs, and that disadvantage doesn’t always end neatly at the boundaries of those boroughs. For example, the following charities would meet the geographical criteria for the Small Grants Scheme:

  • A charity set up specifically to work with people living in two adjoining neighbourhoods, one of which is predominantly in Southwark, the other in Lambeth.

However, we want to support charities which have Hackney, Lewisham, Southwark or Tower Hamlets at the very heart of what they do – the reason why they exist - rather than just one of the places they work. For example, the Small Grants Scheme won’t fund a charity asking for 10% of the cost of a project, because 10% of its beneficiaries usually come from those London boroughs. The Small Grants Scheme will also not fund charities that work in several London boroughs, even if this includes one or more of our key boroughs.

If you want to check whether your charity has the right geographical focus for our Small Grants Scheme, please send a short email to charities@merchant-taylors.co.uk explaining your organisation and how you work.

The Small Grants Scheme is the result of a strategic review, which concluded in June 2021. For the first year of operation, the funding ranges will be as explained below. We will monitor this closely and may adjust it in future years.

Grants are likely to be in the range £500 to £5,000 per year. However, we would like you to ask for the amount your charity needs, and we will expect you to explain why it is that amount. Please be realistic, given the stage your charity is at and the needs it is trying to meet. For example, for some small community-based organisations, £500 could be a transformative grant. If it costs £500 per year to fund a specific programme, it wouldn’t be realistic to ask for £5,000.

Yes. You are welcome to apply for funding for a specific project instead, if that is what you believe will best help your charity right now.

Yes, you can apply for up to three years of funding in a single application.

During the first year of operation of the Small Grants Scheme, we are likely to make more single year grants than multi-year grants. That’s so that we don’t commit all of our funds for several years ahead, before we understand better the range of charities which meet the criteria for the Scheme.

We aim to make a final decision on every application within three months of receiving it through the online application form. We email the decision to the person named in the form as the contact for the application.

Straight away, the person named as the contact on the form should receive an automated email confirming that the application has been received, plus a copy of what they typed into the form but not any supporting documents they uploaded. Please keep these emails safely, as well as any supporting documents which your charity uploaded. That’s because if your charity does receive funding, we will ask for a grant report in which the key question is: did you do what you said you would do in the application form?

Staff from the Foundation may need to contact your charity if they have questions about your application which they think you will be able to answer quickly.

Before a decision is made on the outcome of your application, your charity will receive a due diligence visit under the Charity Visits Scheme. During the pandemic this will be in the form of an e-visit, but in normal times it is more likely to be a physical visit to your charity’s premises.

Please follow the link above to understand more about the Charity Visits Scheme (CVS), which are conducted by volunteers who are members of the Merchant Taylors’ Company.

The Merchant Taylors’ Company is a membership organisation which supplies the charity trustees for the Merchant Taylors’ Foundation. The Foundation’s money comes from the members of the Company, either present members donating now, or in the form of donations from members over many centuries which have been invested.

You can find out more about the Company from our home page.

Unfortunately, not at the moment. The Foundation is considering the legal and other issues in funding non-charities to tackle disadvantage. We will update this page when there is a conclusion, but it’s likely that will not be until January 2022 at the earliest.

However, please don’t hesitate to send an email to charities@merchant-taylors.co.uk to let us know that your organisation exists. We can update you by email on our decision about whether non-charities will be able to apply to the Small Grants Scheme.