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Grants and Funding


Henry Smith Charity - Main Grants - Improving Lives

15 April 2021/Categories: Grants_and_Funding

Grants are available for registered charities, social enterprises and constituted charitable groups to help people in the UK when other sources of support have failed, are inappropriate, or are simply not available.

Fund Information

Funding body:
The Henry Smith Charity
Maximum value:
£ 60,000
Application deadline:
None specified


The Henry Smith Charity is one of the largest independent grant making trusts in the UK, distributing over £30 million each year. The Charity's main focus lies with funding organisations that bring about lasting change in people's lives and help them to benefit from and contribute to society.

The majority of the Charity's funding is distributed through its two main grant programmes - Improving Lives and Strengthening Communities - which form part of its wider grant making strategy launched in October 2017.

Objectives of Fund

The Henry Smith Charity's Improving Lives programme is part of the Charity's Main Grants programme. It aims to support people in the UK for whom other sources of support have failed, are inappropriate, or are simply not available.

There are six funding priorities:

  • Help at a critical moment
  • Positive choices
  • Accommodation/housing support
  • Employment and training
  • Financial inclusion, rights and entitlements
  • Support networks and family

Value Notes

Grants of between £20,000 and £60,000 per year for up to three years (most grants are for three years).

The Charity will not consider making a grant that is equivalent to more than 50% of the annual running costs of an organisation.

Applications for continuation funding will be considered.

Who Can Apply

Applications are accepted from registered charities and other types of not for profit organisations in the UK, such as community interest companies or constituted community groups if they can explain how the funding would be used for charitable purposes.

To be eligible, organisations must:

  • Have an annual income of between £50,000 and £3 million (£5 million in exceptional circumstances).
  • Be at least 18 months old and have published annual accounts and a track record.
  • Have a constitution, which demonstrates charitable purpose, if the applicant is not a registered charity.
  • Provide details of how their constitution prevents funds being removed from the organisation (asset lock), if the applicant is a community interest company.

The Charity supports established organisations delivering services directly to beneficiaries and is looking for services which can demonstrate a track record of success and evidence the effectiveness of the work.

Organisations must be:

  • Clear and consistent about what they aim to achieve as demonstrated through their actions and practice.
  • Responsive to need and well placed to deliver services.
  • Person centred - the interests of the individual are at the heart of what the organisation does. People are meaningfully involved in developing solutions to the issues they face.
  • Using resources well - high quality, well run organisations that have the skills and capabilities to make proper and effective use of their resources.


United Kingdom


Funding is not available for organisations that have:

  • Reserves (net current assets plus investments) covering more than 12 months' expenditure.
  • An annual income below £50,000.
  • An annual income above £3 million (unless in exceptional circumstances).
  • Applied unsuccessfully within the previous 12 months.
  • Another application under consideration in any other Henry Smith grant programme.
  • An active grant from any other Henry Smith grant programme unless in the last 6 months of their current grant and wish to apply for continuation funding.
  • No up-to-date safeguarding policy

Funding will not support:

  • Proposals for loans or social finance.
  • Proposals for grants of more than 50% of the annual running costs of an organisation.
  • Proposals that are only for the benefit of one individual.
  • Work that is not legally charitable.
  • Work that has already taken place.
  • Start-up costs, pilot projects or organisations that do not yet have a track record of service delivery, or a year of annual accounts.
  • Capital costs, including new buildings, building refurbishment.
  • New work (work without a track record of success.)
  • Research, scholarships or student fees.
  • Local authorities or work usually considered a statutory responsibility.
  • Schools, colleges or universities, except for special schools exclusively for pupils with disabilities or special educational needs.
  • Organisations that do not provide direct services to clients (such as umbrella, second tier or grant-making organisations).
  • Work that benefits people outside the UK.
  • Uniformed groups.
  • Work that specifically targets current or ex-service men and women.
  • Professional associations or training for professionals.
  • Services that actively seek to proselytise or promote any religion.
  • One-off holidays, overseas travel or events (such as festivals, conferences, exhibitions and community events).
  • Healthcare which has a clinical basis including medical care and research, physical therapy, hospices or other palliative care services or specialist equipment.
  • Heritage or environmental conservation projects.
  • Campaigning, lobbying, or general awareness raising work.
  • Work that provides legal advice specifically to support court action.

Eligible Expenditure

Grants are for revenue costs and direct service delivery. Funded work should help people for whom other sources of support have failed, been inappropriate or are simply not available, and particularly, people who are excluded, vulnerable, or facing other forms of hardship.

Projects/services must be proven and effective and address at least one of the following six priorities:

  • Help at a critical moment - Helping people to rebuild their lives following a crisis, critical moment, trauma or abuse.
  • Positive choices - Helping people, whose actions or behaviours have led to negative consequences for themselves and others, to make positive choices.
  • Accommodation / housing support - Enabling people to work towards or maintain accommodation.
  • Employment and training - Supporting people to move towards or gain employment.
  • Financial inclusion, rights and entitlements - Supporting people to overcome their financial problems and ensure that they are able to claim their rights and entitlements.
  • Support networks and family - Working with people to develop improved support networks and family relationships.

Where all of an organisation's activities fit within the Charity's priority areas, grants can be used towards running costs, which may include salaries, overheads and day to day running costs. Where an organisation delivers some activities that are outside of the priority areas the Charity will only consider applications towards a specific project that fits with its priorities.

Funded services are expected to be:

  • Working to create lasting change - having a positive impact on people and where possible, creating enduring, sustainable improvements in circumstances.
  • Delivering holistic support - taking a positive approach to the whole person, addressing multiple issues, with those who are in some way excluded or vulnerable.
  • Providing direct service delivery - engaging directly with people to help them to build their capabilities and tackle the root causes of problems.
  • Monitored and evaluated - information is appropriately collected and analysed with successes/failures used to understand and improve services.

How To Apply

Applications can be submitted at any time. There are no deadlines and applications are assessed as they are received.

There is a two-stage application process. Initial applications must be made via the online application form on the Henry Smith Charity's website. Successful stage-one applicants will be notified and will progress to stage two.

The application process takes approximately six months. Applications will be expected to detail how organisations would wish to deliver their services once the current government coronavirus/COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

Useful documents & links

Useful Links

Addresses and contacts

For further information on how to obtain this grant locally, please contact the following:

  1. Enquiries
    The Henry Smith Charity
    6th Floor
    65 Leadenhall Street
    EC3A 2AD
    Tel: 020 7264 4970

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