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COVID-19: Emergency funds available to environmental groups

By Jane Cabutti, Environmental Funders Network, 20th April 2020

We know COVID-19 has resulted in many environmental organisations struggling with a significant drop in income due to the closure of visitor centres, pause on events, halting of face-to-face fundraising and the downturn in the economy. Given the magnitude of the social crisis unfolding, it’s not surprising that the vast bulk of the emergency funds being made available are focused on social and health issues. We’ve done our best here to track down those funds that are open to environment-orientated organisations. We will be updating this list regularly. If you come across any other relevant new funds, spot any errors in the list below, or have any updates to the info given, please let us know in the comments or by emailing

To see fuller lists of emergency funds that are focused on a much broader range of issues, see those produced by the Directory of Social Change and the Charity Excellence Framework (see LinkedIn, or if you want to view the updated list, create a free account on their website). It’s worth checking through those full lists, especially if your programmes overlap with other social causes or if you work at a regional level. Otherwise we have flagged below the UK- or country-wide funds most applicable to environmental organisations, and added other new funds we have heard about through our members. There aren’t many that we know of yet, and most are only available to the foundations’ current grantees. (Last updated 29th May)


Who Can ApplyBrief Notes
National Lottery Heritage FundYou must be: a not-for-profit organisation; a current or previous recipient of a grant directly from NLHF; an owner, manager or representative of heritage, or be able to show you have delivered participatory heritage activity.£50m emergency fund (though this is for all heritage groups) providing short-term funding for organisations delivering heritage projects or running previously funded projects, and safeguarding heritage sites NHLF have previously invested in to ensure they are not lost to the public. Applications will be accepted until 30 June 2020.
Farming The Future Coronavirus Emergency Response FundGrants are available to lead organisations that the funding partners (A-Team Foundation, Roddick Foundation, Samworth Foundation or Thirty Percy) have already worked with.Farming The Future supports the transition to regenerative agriculture. The ERF is asking for proposals that will immediately respond to the current crisis and also looks at the long term in order to instil resilience and fortify the movement. Preference for collaborative projects.
The Agroecology Fund Global Emergency FundApplication process not yet announced.Pooled fund to support creative, community-led humanitarian responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Nominations will be sought from donors, advisors, long-term partners and AEF staff. Later in the spring, longer-term grants to meet ongoing, pressing needs and to take advantage of new opportunities to relocalise food systems along agroecological principles will complement these emergency grants.
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation coronavirus responseOrganisations already funded by the foundation: more details will be announced by the end of April.£14 million in fast-response grants to be offered to some of the organisations the foundation currently supports across all of their sectors, including the environment and food. £2 million also being made available for contributions to emergency funding schemes in collaboration with others.
Steel Charitable TrustUK registered charitable organisations working in one of 5 priority areas, including environment.Follow normal application process for emergency funding. Grants usually between £2.5k and £25k but are occasionally larger. Very few restrictions are imposed on the purpose for which a grant may be used.
Dulverton Trust coronavirus responseExisting grantees.Support for charities with which the trust has an existing relationship, to overcome funding challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
The Fore's Raft Fund Applications accepted from any UK registered charities, CICs, CIOs and CBSs with annual incomes below £500,000. Initially accepting 500 applications, with places allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. RAFT will ensure that high-quality small charities and social enterprises are able to meet the rapidly changing needs of their beneficiaries, remain viable and prepare for delivery for when the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic is over. Many organisations have scaled back their activities significantly during this period but need to ready for an intense period of delivery once current restrictions are lifted. 'For example an environmental charity needs to have the tools and the capacity to build on the openness to new thinking that the pandemic is bringing about.' First grants announced 6th May.
Sport England Community Emergency FundOrganisations in England, including those not currently supported by SE, who have a role in supporting the nation to be active but who are experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the ongoing crisis. Nature reserves with visitor centres might qualify?Awards will be between £300 and £10,000, and more in exceptional circumstances. The fund has been developed to help community sport and physical activity organisations meet their obligations, in particular fixed costs, which are no longer supported with revenue as a result of coronavirus. Applicants will have exhausted all other government funding sources before applying to this fund.
Third Sector Resilience Fund (Scotland)To be eligible, you must be:
a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation based in Scotland and/or primarily delivering services/activities in Scottish communities;
already delivering those products or services prior to March 2020;
and needing funding to stabilise cashflows directly as a result of the impact of COVID-19, as opposed to pre-existing financial difficulties
A £20m emergency fund for organisations working in Scotland that already deliver services and products but find themselves in financial difficulties directly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The primary intention of the fund is to help third sector organisations to stabilise and manage cash flows over this difficult period.
CAF Coronavirus Emergency Fund
Organisations with a charitable purpose and charitable activities, which had income of £1million or less in their last financial year.This fund is to help smaller charitable organisations in the UK affected by the impact of Covid-19. Grants of up to £10,000 are available. You can apply for unrestricted funding for core costs, staffing, volunteer costs, supplies and equipment, communications or other critical charitable
areas. You must be able to describe how an emergency grant will improve the situation for your organisation and community. Priority however is for those working with vulnerable groups and communities.
UK Research & Innovation: funding for ideas that address COVID 19Proposals will be accepted from anyone who is normally eligible to apply for UKRI funding. This includes charities that are Independent Research Organisations (IROs).Short-term research projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. For environmental research, scroll to the end of the document in this link.
Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust coronavirus response phase 2At least £5 million is being made available to enable the expansion of grant making for the rest of the year. Includes grant extensions, and grants for emergencies, adaptations and COVID-19 initiatives. Latter supports 'new initiatives rooted in the values of equity, rights, peace, climate justice and power and accountability'.Most new funding opportunities are for current grantees, but the COVID-19 initiative fund will be open to non-grantees (watch website for further announcements).
UK Aid Small Charities Challenge Fund (£250k or less annual income)Projects invited of up to £50k over 2 years that address global goals and improve the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised. Priority to projects responding to the longer term impacts of COVID-19. Small UK registered charities and not-for-profits. Project must be in a country ranked in the bottom 50 on the UN Human Development Index.
John Spedan Lewis Foundation Emergency Fund: Covid-19Grants of up £20,000 available to support charities who are experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19. Priority for applications where the funding will make a significant improvement to the charity's solvency and ability to operate over the next 3-12 months. Opens 29th May, closes 14th June.Small UK registered charities with income below £1 million in last year, for which natural history topics and horticulture are explicitly stated among their charitable purposes. Natural history topics can include wildlife conservation, entomology and ornithology.


Who Can ApplyMore Details
Big Society Capital loans and investment programmeCharities, community interest companies and community benefit societies that have been operating for at least two years, with a turnover between £400,000 and £45 million.£100 million programme of loans and investment to help get emergency funding to social enterprises, charities and small businesses in disadvantaged areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The measures complement the coronavirus grants programme for social sector organisations announced by the Government.
The programme will create routes for charities, social enterprises and some small businesses facing cash-flow problems and disruption to their trading to obtain urgent finance which they otherwise couldn’t access. Within weeks, affected organisations will be able to apply for emergency loans and investment without paying any fees or interest for 12 months.
Bounce Back Loan SchemeAny business (including charities) that has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.Approach a lender (details on website) directly, ideally via its website. In the first instance, this should be your own provider. You may also consider approaching other lenders if you are unable to access the finance you require. You will need to fill in a short application form online, which self-certifies that your business is eligible for a loan under BBLS.

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