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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- LGBT+ Communities
- Older People Facing Disadvantage
- Prison & Rehabilitation
- Substance Misuse & Addiction
- Young People Facing Disadvantage
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 a minibus, car, caravan, people-carrier, or 4X4. We are unlikely to fund the total cost of a new vehicle.
There are no application deadlines, which means you can submit an application at any time.
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.
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.
Yes, we do accept applications for funding a capital project retrospectively where an organisation can explain why it was reasonable to take this approach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your application is unsuccessful, you cannot reapply for the same project. You can apply for a new/different project after six months.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
When answering questions specifically asking for financial figures, please only use digits (no commas, or currency symbols), otherwise you will receive an error message.
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.
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.
The Proactive Grants Programme is not open to applications or enquiries for support.
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.