Find Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

We hope our FAQ will help you decide whether your organisation and project is a good fit for one of our Open Grants Programmes.

What is The Clothworkers' Foundation?

The Clothworkers’ Foundation was set up by The Clothworkers’ Company in 1977, and since then has awarded capital grants of more than £165 million. The Clothworkers’ Company is our Corporate Trustee, and it nominates a number of members who serve on our Trustee Board.

Where does The Foundation get its money?

The Foundation has its own endowment and investment portfolio, which is used to fund our charitable activities. We also receive income from The Clothworkers’ Company to help us with our grant making.

We publish our accounts to the Charity Commission each year, and we also publish an annual review to our website.

What do you fund?

We fund both reactively and proactively. If you are looking to apply for funding, you can do so under our Open Grants Programme. Our Proactive Grants Programme funds strategically and so is not open to enquiries or applications for support.

What does the Open Grants Programme fund?

We fund charities registered in the UK, CICs, and other UK not-for-profit organisations including special schools. We fund capital projects such as buildings, equipment and vehicles.

The work of charities we fund must fit within one or more of our ten programme areas.


How can I be sure that my organisation fits within your programme areas?

In order to meet our eligibility criteria, you must be able to demonstrate that the work of your organisation fits within one or more of our ten programme areas, and that at least 50% of service users benefiting from the capital project are from one or more of those groups. 

Our programme areas are:

  • Communities Experiencing Racial Inequalities
  • Disabilities (including Mental Health & Visual Impairment)
  • Domestic & Sexual Abuse
  • Economic Disadvantage
  • Homelessness
  • LGBT+ Communities
  • Older People Facing Disadvantage
  • Prison & Rehabilitation
  • Substance Misuse & Addiction
  • Young People Facing Disadvantage


What do you mean by 'capital projects'?

We consider a capital project/item to mean:

  • Buildings: purchase, construction, renovation or refurbishment.
  • Fittings, Fixtures, and Equipment: this includes but is not limited to office equipment/furniture, sports/gym equipment, digital/audio visual equipment, software and websites (more guidance on digital infrastructure can be found here), garden equipment, specialist therapeutic (excluding medical) equipment. It does not include equipment for one-off use like consumables, or which will be given to service users for personal use on a permanent basis (if the majority of your budget is made up of these sort of items please contact us before submitting an application). 
  • Vehicles: This includes (but is not exclusive to) minibuses, cars, caravans, people carriers, 4x4 and boats. We are unlikely to fund the total cost of a new vehicle or award funding to an organisation that already owns a large number of vehicles. We do not provide grants towards vehicle leasing or to organisations whose core activity is community transport.
Is there a deadline for applications?

There are no application deadlines, which means you can submit an application at any time.

How much can I apply for and what size of grant am I likely to be awarded?

We ask that you do not request a specific amount in your application form. This is because our trustees will take into consideration a number of factors when deciding the size of grant to award.

For larger projects (£100,000+), we generally fund 10% or more of the balance to be raised. For example, if your project cost was £200,000 and you had £150,000 left to raise, the grant award would be at least £15,000. The larger a project, the larger our grant is likely to be.

For smaller projects (with a balance of less than £15,000), we generally fund between 50% and 100% of the balance.

Should we pay a freelancer, consultant or agent to write our grant application?

We work to promote equity and transparency in our grant making and across our organisation, and to ensure that our processes enable grantees and potential grantees to be impactful and successful without creating barriers or imposing unnecessary burdens.

All potential applicants must complete our Eligibility Quiz to determine whether they should submit an application. While you may wish to work with a freelancer, consultant or agent to complete this or other grant applications on your behalf, please note that we never work with third-party agents or consultants to source or solicit applications to our Open Grant Programme. Therefore, no special preference will be given to applications or organisations that work with third-party agents to submit their applications. Each application is assessed independently and equitably by our grants team and board of trustees against our criteria.

How long will it take to assess my application?

The length of time for a decision will depend on the size of your organisation and project.

Smaller projects (generally those with an outstanding balance to be raised of £15,000 or less) take up to twelve weeks.

Larger projects (generally those with an outstanding balance of more than £15,000) take up to six months.

N.B. our approach to vehicles is slightly different. Generally, if the outstanding balance to be raised for a vehicle is £15,000 or less, it will take eight weeks for us to make a decision. If it is more than £15,000, it will take six months. By completing our Eligibility Quiz, we can give you a clearer idea of how long it will take us to reach a decision.

Can I apply for funding retrospectively?

No, we do not make grants retrospectively.

We are a community organisation. Are we eligible for a grant?

To be eligible to apply, at least 50% of your beneficiaries must fall within our Open Grants programme areas. A lot of community organisations support a wide range of beneficiaries, which can include disadvantaged young people, people with disabilities and older people or perhaps their beneficiaries include disadvantaged minority communities.

What type of charity or not-for-profit is eligible to apply?

You must demonstrate your not-for-profit status in the application form and your accounts. We fund the following types of charitable and not-for-profit organisations:

  • Charities registered with the Charity Commission including Community Interest Organisations (CIO)
  • Community Interest Companies (limited by guarantee without share capital)
  • ‘Exempt Charities’ (in which case we require details of your principal regulator and/or evidence of HMRC exemption)
  • Special Schools

We do not fund organisations that do not meet these requirements and a ‘Constitution’ document alone is not a sufficient demonstration of eligibility.

Does my organisation have to be Living Wage accredited to apply?

Your organisation is not required to be a Living Wage Employer and your answer to this question will not affect our decision. Our form asks a question about your Living Wage accreditation so that we can collect, aggregate, and anonymise this data to feed into wider research being conducted on the Living Wage in the charity sector.

We would ask, however, that you do consider whether the people who may be employed (or the employees of any organisations you contract) in relation to this funding are paid the Living Wage. We recommend asking any contractors that you might work with if they are an accredited Living Wage Employer or will be paying the real Living Wage to all staff on the project. You can find out more about the real Living Wage and accrediting as a Living Wage Employer here:

We understand that using a Living Wage accredited contractor may increase the overall project cost. By obtaining quotes from contractors paying the Living Wage at this stage (i.e. before we have awarded a grant), you can adjust your budget accordingly and we will take this into account when assessing your application. We will not be able to take into account any increased costs due to Living Wage considerations after the grant.

Can I apply for more than one grant?

No, we only accept one application at a time. If your application is unsuccessful you can apply for a new project after six months. If your application is successful you can apply again after five years.

My application was unsuccessful. Can I reapply?

If your application is unsuccessful, you cannot reapply for the same project. You can apply for a new/different project after six months.

My application was unsuccessful. Can I have feedback?

The Foundation has a small grants team. We regretfully do not have the resources to provide individual feedback on applications. Common reasons for an application being unsuccessful are:

  • The application does not meet our basic eligibility criteria
  • All or the majority of beneficiaries of the organisation do not fall within our programme areas.
  • An organisation has more than 12 months of reserves.
  • We are not confident of the organisation’s financial position.
I started my online application. Where has it gone?

If you started an application (and did not submit it) before 8 September 2023, then you will need to begin a new application form. We temporarily suspended applications at that time to updated our programme areas and make related changes to the application system, and your old application will no longer be accepted. 

However, you will have been emailed your most recent application content from (please check your spam or junk folders if you cannot find this email). You will be able to copy and paste relevant responses from your old form into our new application system. We apologise for the inconvenience.

Why does the application form report an error when I enter financial figures?

When answering questions specifically asking for financial figures, please only use digits (no commas, or currency symbols), otherwise you will receive an error message.

I've submitted my application, but I haven't received an email notification.

You will always receive an automatic email when your application has been successfully submitted. It is automatically generated from our database and because of this can sometimes be redirected to your spam or junk folders.

What does the Proactive Grants Programme fund?

Our Proactive Grants Programme is not open to funding enquiries or applications. Initiatives are developed according to The Foundation's strategic objectives, following extensive research and consultation with organisations working in the selected sectors. 

Unlike the Open Grants Programmes, most Proactive Grants are for multi-year revenue projects where we are often the sole funder.

Where can I apply for a Proactive Grant?

The Proactive Grants Programme is not open to applications or enquiries for support.

Where can I find out more about Proactive Grants?

We periodically publish independent evaluations of our Proactive initiatives. If you have any questions about our initiatives, please get in touch using the Contact Us page.

My question has not been answered by the FAQ. How do I contact The Foundation?

The Foundation is staffed by a small team, so we are unable provide detailed guidance and advice. The guidance and information on the website (including our 'Eligibility Quiz') should help you to determine whether your organisation is eligible to apply.

If you have read all of the guidelines and the FAQs, and you still have a specific question that is not covered on the website, please use the Contact Us page to get in touch.