Voluntary Sector Support Fund FAQs

The below frequently asked questions together with the information on the criteria will help you answer questions you might have about the VSSF.

The FAQs supplement the criteria information and you are advised to read those before attempting to complete the application form.

You will also note that there a series of support sessions available to answer questions you might have. Once you have read through all the information, including the FAQs, please consider booking onto one of these sessions. 

How do I apply for funding?

Use the link below to fill in the application form.

Apply for the Voluntary Sector Support Fund

How does the application process work?
Please note that there is a two-stage application process. The Stage 1 form asks questions to ensure you are eligible for the programme funding. The answers to your questions will be reviewed by our grants team on a rolling basis until 21 May.

The deadline for a Stage 1 form to be completed is 12 noon on Friday 21 May

If you are eligible for funding, we will provide access to a Stage 2 form through your application portal. This is a more detailed form and asks you questions about:

  • your organisational aims, finance and management, 
  • how you will use the grant and why it is needed, 
  • your outputs and outcomes
  • your budget
  • your project management processes and experience (questions on this will only be asked if you are applying for more than £30,000 in total)

The deadline for submission of your Stage 2 form is 12 noon on Friday 28 May.

In order to apply for funding, you MUST submit a first stage application by 12 noon on Friday 21 May.

What support is available to applicants?
Applicants are asked to read the VSSF webpages before making an application to the VSSF. It is essential to read and understand the criteria for funding and we have compiled these frequently asked questions to supplement this. 

If you still have questions or would like to discuss something more specific, please book onto one of eleven support sessions arranged by the VCS and Community Partnerships team. 

Visit Eventbrite to view details and book your session

For technical queries regarding application form functionality, please contact Rocket Science at 020 7253 6289.

General support for your organisation (not specific to VSSF) is available from the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council.  

When is the deadline to apply?
The deadline for the second stage application form is 12 noon on Friday 28 May 2021. You will not be able to submit an application after this deadline. Any incomplete applications that are left saved on your account will be disregarded.

Who can apply?
We will consider applications from the following organisations as long as you work on a not-for-profit basis:  

  • Registered charity 
  • Exempt or excepted charity
  • Charitable organisation (CIO)
  • Social enterprises/CICs 
  • Charitable company (limited by guarantee) 
  • Constituted but unincorporated club or association 
  • Constituted community group 

Please note that we are keen to fund organisations that have not received funding under the previous Corporate Services Grants Programme.

Can non-constituted groups apply?

Yes, non-constituted groups can apply for either a small core or project grant up to £15,000 in total over the 18-month period, during which you can budget for a maximum of £10,000 from 1 April 22 to 31 March 23. However, you will need to have a sponsor organisation that can vouch for your work in the community and who is willing to hold the money in their bank account, ring-fenced for your project. The sponsor organisation will also need to complete and submit this letter of reference. 

The sponsor organisation must be one of the following: Registered charity, Charitable company (Limited by guarantee), Social enterprise/CIC or CIO.

Requirement for the sponsor organisations:
  • To provide their governing document
  • To provide evidence that they have a bank account in the name of the sponsor organisation
  • There are at least three unrelated Trustees or Directors and at least 50% of them have a local connection (either live, work or study in) to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • To provide their financial management policy
  • To provide financial accounts from the last two years, where available.
  • To confirm they will have the appropriate policies in place, required for the project.
Requirements for the non-constituted group:
  • To upload their safeguarding policy
  • To upload their Equalities policy or tell us how they ensure equality of access and do not discriminate against the protected characteristics.
  • To upload minutes from the last Management Committee meeting.
  • To confirm they will have the appropriate policies in place to run the project.

What period does the grant award cover? 
For core grants, we expect them to start on 1 October 2021 and end on 31 March 2023. Please note the period may be extended by a further 12 months. This will be decided at the discretion of the Council and will be based on the performance of the grant over the previous 18 months.

For a smaller project grant, you may choose to deliver your project over a shorter period (e.g., 12 months or less) and you will not be marked down for this. Please decide a timeframe that suits your project.

Who cannot apply to this programme?
Organisations and groups that work on a for-profit basis are not eligible for this funding scheme. This includes companies that are limited by shares. We will also not fund individuals or organisations that do not/will not benefit residents of Kensington and Chelsea.

Are groups allowed to apply as a consortium or partnership?
Yes, one organisation would be considered the ‘lead’ organisation in the partnership/consortium and would need to submit the application on behalf of all partner organisations. The lead organisation would be subject to the due diligence checks and, if successful, would receive the grant funds.

We will ask the lead organisation to submit a Service Level Agreement for each partnership during the pre-agreement stage. We will need to see evidence of agreement between the partners in support of the partnership application.

What cannot be funded by this programme?

VSFF will not provide grants for:

  • Political aims, campaigns and lobbies
  • Services that promote religious interests and objectives. However, a faith organisation can apply as long as their project would benefit all members of the community, from all faiths.
  • Statutory services (services that are provided by the Local Authority, required by Law)
  • Schools
  • Individuals
  • Capital only bids
  • Loan repayments
  • Projects that do not benefit people of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • Duplication of services that are being or have been funded by other Council departments or are covered by statutory services.

What funding streams are available under the VSSF?

There are three distinct funding streams under the VSSF. 

  • Core grants higher than £30,000 in total
  • Smaller grants of £30,000 or less in total for core costs
  • Smaller grants of £30,000 or less in total for project costs

Please note, the VSSF is looking to fund small grass-roots organisations under the smaller grants streams and so eligible organisations will be those whose average income in the last financial year was £150,000 and less.

How much can I apply for?
If you are seeking core cost funding of more than £30,000 in total, you can apply for a grant under these three themes: Community Activities; Information, Advice and Guidance services; and Capacity Building services. 

Due to budget limitations, we have set the following limits:  

  • For grants that will provide community activities, the maximum grant you can request is £150,000 per annum and a percentage of that in 2021-22.
  • For grants that will provide information, advice and guidance services, the maximum grant you can request is £300,000 per annum and a percentage of that in 2021-22.
  • For grants that provide capacity building services for organisations, the maximum grant you can request is £150,000 per annum and a percentage of that in 2021-22.

If you are seeking either core costs or project funding of £30,000 or less in total, you can apply for a smaller grant with a slightly shorter application form. Organisations must have an average income of £150,000 or less for the past two years to be eligible for this funding.

Depending on the period you are applying for, you can apply for up to £30,000 in total over the 18-month period, during which you can apply for a maximum of £20,000 from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

Please note that budgets may be altered depending on the monies available to the VSSF. If successful, we will discuss any changes to the budget with you during the pre-agreement stage.

What can I request funding for?
We will fund staff salaries, staff training, consumables, refreshments, venue hire, equipment, marketing/promotion materials, the management of premises, overheads and management costs and any other costs you consider necessary. If your grant has a public health focus, you can also use this funding stream to apply for a one-off event/training or campaign.

Equipment may include laptops, computers, sports equipment, cameras etc. as long as you clearly demonstrate why they are needed for your project. However, we will not fund applications that are equipment-only requests.

You will need to justify the costs you request funding for and demonstrate good value for money. You should be aware that we might not be able to provide funding for the full amount you request, and a reduced grant may be offered.

Services should be free at the point of access for the majority of services and, where costs are necessary, costs must not be a barrier to accessing services that are delivered using RBKC funding. If you are going to charge a fee to access a service, you will need to explain how it does not act as a barrier.

If you are applying for a smaller project grant, please apply full costs recovery and budget for a proportion of your overheads related to this project. Full cost recovery means applying for all the costs involved in running a project. This means that you can request funding for direct project costs and for a proportionate share of your organisation’s overheads. 

  • Direct project costs are the specific costs related to your project, such as staff, materials or equipment needed for your project. 
  • You can also apply for the associated overheads, such as a proportion of your electricity or water costs or your rent.

Are there any priority areas for the funding?

Yes, you will need to demonstrate that your request meets one of the Council’s five priorities for the borough of Kensington and Chelsea: 

  • Grenfell Recovery (However, the VSSF is not able to fund duplicate services already funded for the bereaved and survivors as well as projects funded through the Grenfell Projects Fund.)
  • A great place to live, work and learn 
  • Supporting and safeguarding vulnerable adults 
  • Healthy, clean and safe  
  • A place of culture to visit and explore 

A stronger application will be one that meets more than one Council priority and you will need to justify how your project meets the priority (ies) you have identified. This is not necessarily expected for a smaller grant, but for a core funding grant of more than £50,000 per annum, it would strengthen your application if your funding addressed more than one priority. However, even if your project fits one of these priorities, but you normally receive funding from a different department within the Council or from the NHS or your local CCG, then you will need to make it clear that this is not a duplication of services. Please see the funding exclusion list included in these frequently asked questions and make sure your request does not come under any of these headings.

We are also interested in funding applications that address gaps in provision identified during engagement events with Council staff, local voluntary organisations, and local community members: 

  • Lack of activities/services available during the weekend 
  • Lack of activities/services available for people with mobility issues 
  • Lack of after school provision for young people

Where you project or activity is directly related to the work of another Council department (e.g. Children’s Services), you will need to demonstrate why you are seeking funding from VSSF.

My project has a public health focus, are you interested in this?
Yes, if your project is addressing one of these public health priorities, please tell us about this in your application form:

  • Creating and developing healthy and sustainable places and communities
  • Strengthening the role and impact of ill health prevention
  • Expanding employment support to those affected by the pandemic
  • Supporting green recovery, improving home insulation and energy efficiency
  • Supporting residents to address digital exclusion
  • Tackling isolation and the impact of bereavement
  • Actively engaging residents to develop public health services and campaigns
  • Addressing inequalities through community initiatives/projects
  • Culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing support for ethnic minority groups/hard to reach groups by engaging and supporting through language interpretation via phone/face to face or through innovative peer-led initiatives
  • Income maximisation for residents

However, please be reassured that if your project does not have a public health focus, you will not be marked down for this. 

My organisation doesn’t have an Adult Social Care or Public Health focus, can I apply?

Yes, it is not a condition of funding that you must apply for a public health outcome. Rather, you can choose to if this is appropriate for your organisation.

My organisation is delivering under the Grenfell Projects Fund, can I apply?
Yes, however, the VSSF is not able to fund duplicate services already funded for the bereaved and survivors or projects funded through the Grenfell Projects Fund. 

Can I apply for VSSF and the second Grenfell Projects Fund but delivering separate projects?
Yes, you can make a separate application to VSSF if you can demonstrate you are not duplicating the intended priorities under the Grenfell Projects Fund; your service is not already funded under the Grenfell Projects Fund (your own project or by another organisation); and/or your project is not already being funded for the bereaved and survivors under the Councils Grenfell recovery strategy.

What supporting documents/evidence do you need to provide?

  • Your governing document. If you are applying as a non-constituted group, you will need to upload a reference letter from a sponsor organisation who is willing to vouch for your work in the community. If you are successful, the grant will be paid to them and they will be responsible for paying you.
  • Your safeguarding policy.
  • Your equalities policy (if you do not have an equalities policy, then you will need to demonstrate how you ensure equality of access and do not exclude any of the protected characteristics in the Equality Act of 2010).
  • Evidence that you have a bank account in the name of your organisation. If you have a sponsor organisation, they will need to provide evidence of a bank account in their name.
  • Where available, your organisation’s financial policy (if you do not have a financial policy, then you will need to tell us about your financial management processes).
  • If you are applying for more than £30,000 in total over the 18-month period, you need to upload financial accounts from the last two years. If you are applying for a grant up to £30,000 in total, you should upload accounts from the last two years, where available. If you have been established less than 18 months and only have one set of accounts, that is acceptable. If your latest accounts have been delayed and have not been published due to the Covid-19 pandemic, please upload draft accounts instead (we would not expect these to vary significantly from the final version that is published).

If you are a new organisation and do not have a set of accounts yet, we still require evidence of your financial position over a 12-month period. For example, if you have been in operation for six months, you can provide management accounts or a cash flow statement for this six-month period, and a projection of income and expenditure for the latter six months.

If you are applying for more than £30,000 in total, you will be asked to provide some further financial documents, including a copy of your organisational financial policy, management accounts for the current year and an income and expenditure projection for next year. 

What are outputs and outcomes?
Outcomes are what a project seeks to achieve, and outputs are actions or items produced to achieve an intended outcome. For example:

  • You provide ten free one-hour weekly walking football sessions for older people in your community. These ten football sessions for older people are the outputs you are delivering. The outcome would be that 10 people achieved increased physical health and well-being.
  • If you then provide tea/coffee and fruit/cake afterwards where participants can chat and socialise, this is another output with the intended outcome of reducing isolation and loneliness. 

Outputs tends to be quantitative and relate to a certain number of sessions, beneficiaries etc. Outcomes are the change you want to see as a result of the outputs you are delivering. 

Outcomes should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. 

The application form asks for a maximum of five outputs and outcomes for each project, to help define the intended impact of your work.  You will need to plan from the outset how you will track progress towards each outcome. This could include a questionnaire or a survey that participants complete at different project stages, staff and family observations, or other feedback. You will need to decide the best way to collect information that can measure progress towards your outcomes and is appropriate to your participants.

Can I submit other information too?
No, to ensure consistency of information, we are only going to assess applications based on the written answers provided and the attachments requested.

Can I apply for more than one application?
No, you can only apply for one grant. We expect each grant stream to be over-subscribed and it will therefore not be possible to provide more than one grant to an organisation. You will need to decide which grant stream is most appropriate for your proposal.

However, you can be a sponsor organisation for a non-constituted group and also apply for a grant in your own right.

Do you have any tips for writing an application?

  • Be clear about what the funding will be used for. If possible, it is always a good idea to get someone else to read your application before you submit it to check they understand how the funding will be used. 
  • Don’t assume we know what your organisation does. Even if you have received funding from the Council before, you still need to provide the same level of information as on past applications. 
  • Be clear in evidencing the need that your project or activity is looking to address. Examples of evidence can come from survey results, consultations, research that other organisations have done, etc.

How will applications be assessed?
Applications will first be assessed against the main eligibility criteria. Following this initial screening, applications will then be assessed against a scoring system under six main headings:

  • The financial position of the applicant organisation
  • The aims and management of the applicant organisation
  • Whether the proposed use of the funding is clear, based on a demonstrable track record of delivery or using a better approach that has merit
  • Whether the applicant organisation has made a good case as to whether it meets the Council’s priority areas
  • An assessment of the outcomes areas the applicant organisation will work towards 
  • Whether the budget is clear and represents value for money

If you are successful, you will be offered a provisional award, subject to further information or governance documents being provided.

Once these have been found to be satisfactory, we would then make you a formal grant offer.

Will residents be involved in the assessment process?
No. Grant assessment is a technical process that relies on strong previous experience. It would be unfair to expect the majority of our residents to have the knowledge, experience and/or time to contribute to this process.

Do the highest scoring applications get awarded?
Not necessarily. The merit of the application – as a whole - will be considered in reaching a decision as well the score attained by the applicant organisation.

When will I find out the outcome of my application and when can organisations get their money?
We will let applicants know the outcome of their application in late July. Funding will then be released to successful organisations before 1 October 2021.

Can an unsuccessful organisation appeal a decision?
There is no appeal process. All information to be considered for each application will be expected to be submitted with the application form by the deadline stated in the guidance document.

What happens after organisations are told they have been successful?
All organisations that receive an award in principle will be invited to meet with a Council Officer to discuss details of their VSSF funding application. This will be an opportunity expand on parts of your application or refine others. 

The Council will also take this opportunity to discuss the requirements of funding in detail and mutually agree what exactly will be expected to be delivered.

Do I need to publicise VSSF if we are successful?
Yes, your organisations will be required to fulfil our publishing award requirements as a condition of funding, and to make clear the services/job roles that the VSSF funds. For example, you will be required to include the VSSF logo in your marketing and promotional material. We will also require that you reference the VSSF fund and the VSSF logo on your website and any social media activity for work relating to your grant.

If successful, what monitoring will I be required to do throughout my grant?
For grants up to £30,000, you will be required to complete six-monthly reporting. For grants higher than £30,000, you will be required to complete quarterly reporting.

You will be required to report on:

  • the number of beneficiaries and their demographic information
  • your progress towards your output targets
  • your progress towards your outcome targets 
  • a general update on the grant, including any successes and challenges you have experienced in the reporting period
  • your spend against the budget and provide evidence of spend at the end of the grant period and invoices for large items of expenditure
  • your financial position at every six months intervals

You should note that all grant awards will be tied to specific outcomes and we will be publicly reporting on progress towards those outcomes.

Council officers will also conduct site visits to see projects in action. Projects will be contacted in advance to schedule a date for the visit, and visits will be conducted in person if Covid-19 restrictions allow.

Can I get a PDF of the criteria to print?  
Yes, if you would like a copy of the criteria for funding as a PDF, please email the VCS and Community Partnerships team at communityengagement@rbkc.gov.uk

Is there a way to know more about the 5 priorities we can bid under?  Yes, the RBKC website has the Council Plan which breaks down each of the five priorities that the Council is working to deliver outcomes for. 

Some of the people on our Board have used our services in the past but they don't live in the borough, does this still count as a connection to the borough?  Yes, this is a good connection to the borough as it shows that they have had direct experience of services that your organisation provides. 

If we receive funding from Adult Social Care or Public health, and it is in the form of a grant (rather than a contract) will they contact us to confirm that the grant is coming to an end? Yes, a member of the ASC and/or Public Health team will let you know if your grant will be ending on 30 September 2021.

Can we apply to match fund for the shortfalls we have funding for? Yes, you can apply for core costs that support the operations of your organisation, which are not covered by other funding streams. 

If we are applying for core funding can we also be a non-lead partner in a project bid? Yes, your organisation can be a non-lead partner in a core or project application in addition to submitting an application of your own. Please remember, these applications must not be requesting VSSF funding for the same activity.

Our organisation delivers community activities with significant public health benefits, how do I approach the application? The information you provide in your application should incorporate your public health benefits/activities. This should a be proportionate number of words depending on the level of work you do relating to public health.

Our insurance expires during the assessment period, will we be penalised for this? No, please provide documentation that is available at the time of submitting your application. If you are successful, we will ask for the renewed policy in due course. 

We have beneficiaries in all RBKC wards but naturally work in some wards more, how do we explain this? Please tick ‘all words’ in the application form and explain why you have made this selection.

What happens if our budget changes after we have submitted our application? It is very important to submit an accurate budget. However, we understand budgets can change; there will be an opportunity for successful applicants to discuss budgets (including any changes) at a pre-agreement meeting before delivery begins.