Essex Community Foundation

Before applying please read our guidelines via the link below.

Application guidelines

Funding for Individuals

A small number of the funds that ECF manages provide grants which contribute towards educational and sporting opportunities for children and young people where finance is the barrier to them achieving their full potential.

To apply for a grant for yourself, or your child, please contact the ECF grants team on 01245 356018 or by e-mailing to receive an application form. 

For more information on funds that can support individuals, click here.

Please note: You do not need to apply to a specific fund. Apply to us for what you need and we will match this to the funds under our management.

New to ECF

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your project or proposal with you before you submit an application to us, especially if it is the first time you are applying for an ECF grant. Please complete this form to contact a member of our grants team.

#iwill Fund

ECF is pleased to be working with the Office of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) to deliver the #iwill Fund in Essex.


The Government (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) and Big Lottery Fund have partnered – through the investment of £20 million seed funding each - for a new independent fund (‘the #iwill Fund’) with Step Up to Serve (SUTS) that will support the creation of an additional 1.4 million youth social action opportunities through the #iwill campaign. Step Up To Serve is coordinating the #iwill campaign.

The aim of the campaign is to increase youth social action by 50% by 2020 taking the percentage of young people that volunteer from 40% to 60%.

ECF and the OPFCC are working together as match-funders for this campaign which will award grants locally on behalf of the #iwill fund.


Grants of £1,000 - £5,000 are available from the Fund for Essex projects that have up to one year’s duration of working with young people aged 10 to 20 years old when the programme begins, or 25 for disabled young people.

The programme follows the quality principles of great youth social action:

For further information about the Fund and the types of projects and activities that can be supported, click here.


The #iwill Fund has specific guidelines, which can be found here.

The seperate application form can be accessed here. Please note: The location criteria has changed and we are now accepting applications from anywhere in Essex. 

High Sheriffs Fund application

Please accept our apologies. The High Sheriffs' Fund application form is currently being re-designed and will be available again at the end of August.

Please re-try at the beginning of September.

Thank you.

Resources for grant recipients

Congratulations on being awarded a grant from Essex Community Foundation, you join the thousands of groups supported by ECF who are making a real difference in their communities. ECF has developed the below information and guidance to help you effectively manage your grant. Please do contact the grants team if you have any questions.

Your Grant Documents and Payment read more

We advise that you keep your grant offer letter and a copy of your application together for reference. You will need to make a note of any additional grant conditions that are contained in your offer letter.If you have been awarded a one year grant then we will generally pay your organisation with a cheque, which you should deposit with your bank as soon as possible. BACS payments are used for multi-year grants and will be deposited directly to your nominated account using your preferred reference.

You agreed to manage the grant under our terms and conditions which were included in Part B of your application. You must deliver your grant in accordance with these T&Cs and take into account any additional grant conditions as outlined in your grant offer letter. Please also ensure you note the date that the end of grant report is due. Details of your end of grant report will be emailed to you shortly after the grant offer letter has been issued. You should also ensure that you have the appropriate system in place to capture the relevant information required in this report, including evidence of spend.

For multi-year awards you will be required to report on a regular basis as well as at the end of the grant period. 

Reporting Requirements read more

Completion of an end of grant report is a requirement across all of our funds. We want to hear about your achievements and any difficulties you may have experienced when running your project. Your stories are invaluable as they improve our work as a funder and enable us to share your experiences with the many fundholders, families and local organisations that we work with.

So here are some hints and tips regarding managing and returning feedback on time:

Publicity read more

We know that publicity can help you to raise the profile of your organisation and let others know what you are doing in your community. 

In any of your printed material, please use the following line ‘Our project/group has been supported by the NAME OF FUND, which is managed by Essex Community Foundation

In some publicity it will be more relevant to use our ‘Funded By ECF’ logo. Please use this on your website, in leaflets and posters and in any other printed or electronic media you produce in relation to your grant, by doing so we hope your group will receive recognition for the work you do for your community.

To download the below logos, right click the image and select 'Save Image As'. This will then save the logo to your device.

Please see our Identity Guidelines for further information

Issuing press releases is another good way of letting people know what you are doing. You may use the following information in any press release:

Essex Community Foundation was set up in 1996 and has established a grants programme which has seen more than 5500 Essex charities and community organisations receive £21million in grants.  Funds are distributed on behalf of a wide range of donors who want their charitable giving to be accessible to local charities.'

To share your press releases with us or any photos you have of your work underway, please e-mail We are always keen to share stories of projects we have funded when possible. 

Understanding Funding Terminology read more

Monitoring: the routine, systematic collection of information about a project, which aims to demonstrate progress and evidence of expenditure.

Evaluation: using the monitoring and other information to decide how well an organisation, project or programme is doing.

Inputs: the resources you put into the project to enable you to deliver your outputs. These may include time, money, staff/volunteers and premises.

Outputs: are the products, activities or services you deliver as part of your work. These may include running training courses, support sessions, outings, telephone help-line, leaflets and publications.

Outcomes: result from your outputs – they are, for example, the changes, effects, benefits, or learning – expected or unexpected – that happen as a consequence of your work. For example, reduce isolation of elderly clients, raise awareness of drug and alcohol abuse in teenagers, increase access to qualifications for learners. Outcomes can affect individuals and/or the wider organisation.

Your outcomes should relate to the overall aim of what you were trying to achieve; the number of outcomes you choose to monitor should be in proportion to the size of your project. Some outcomes may be intermediate and cause changes or development of the remaining project – this should not be viewed as negative. ‘Soft’ outcomes can be a stepping stone to achievement e.g. increased self-esteem and confidence – you could record this through interviews, feedback forms or observation applicable to the client group. Long term these beneficiaries may access employment because of the ground work achieved through a comparatively short time project.

Impact: is the fundamental, intended change and generally occurs well after your grant has ended. Impact is generally something that occurs at a far higher or broader level, has cumulative effects or changes to a wider group than the original target. For example, a youth club providing nightly activities for young people leads to a reduction in anti-social behaviour in the wider community. This may of course been one of the overall aims / mission of the organisation, but there may have been other outside influences which can also have contributed to the claimed impact e.g. higher street presence of police officers and PCSOs. This is why impact is harder to prove as being attributed to a project / organisation.

Qualitative: primarily descriptive and interpretative analysis.

Quantitative: numerical data and measurement analysis.

Thriving Third Sector Fund

ECF manages several funds on behalf of Essex County Council including the Thriving Third Sector Fund (TTSF).

All proposals will be reviewed by the TTSF Panel which includes experienced charity Chief Executives, an Essex County Council Cabinet Member and a Police representative.

The aim of the fund is to ensure the long-term, sustainable future of voluntary and community organisations in the administrative county of Essex (not Southend and Thurrock).

Examples of projects supported by the Thriving Third Sector Fund include:

How to apply

To read the guidelines for this fund and to access the expression of interest form, please click here. We encourage all potential applications to call the ECF grants team on 01245 356018 to discuss your idea, in advance of applying.

Henry Smith Charity

ECF has been working in partnership with The Henry Smith Charity since 2008 and since then has channelled over £3 million of grant funding to voluntary and community organisations in Essex

The charity, which can trace its origins back to the 17th century, approached ECF to ask if we would provide them with local knowledge of voluntary organisations that apply to Henry Smith for funding.

We were delighted to link with the charity to support its aim of giving to organisations which help those in need in the community. ECF visits organisations which have been successful in the first stage of the application process and produces a report for the Henry Smith trustees. Once Henry Smith agrees to fund an application, ECF then administers and monitors the grants, which are generally given over three years.

By working with ECF, Henry Smith are able to tap into our local knowledge and networks and know that their grant funding is being carefully managed and monitored at a local level. 

The Henry Smith Charity considers applications for single and multi-year grants, so they offer a great funding opportunity for local organisations to significantly develop their work or deliver more substantial projects. The importance of multi-year funding is that it provides a degree of financial certainty for the applicant.

This is such a rewarding relationship and we look forward to supporting more local organisations that apply to Henry Smith in the future.

The Office of High Sheriff

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year. The High Sheriff receives no expenses and the role comes at no cost to the public purse, therefore he or she can be counted as a volunteer as well.

History of the High Sheriff

There have been High Sheriffs for at least 1,000 years. The original ‘Shire Reeves’ were Royal officials appointed to enforce the King’s interests in a County, in particular the collection of revenues and taxes, and the maintenance of law and order.

High Sheriffs had extensive powers. They were in effect Judge, Justice of the Peace and Jury before the development of the Justices and Assizes system. Sheriffs are mentioned throughout Magna Carta (1215) and by 1254 the High Sheriff supervised the election to Parliament of two Knights of the Shire. It was also the Sheriff’s responsibility to ensure the safety and comfort of the Judges. This is the origin of their modern day duty of care for the well being of the High Court Judges.

As Sheriffs had to collect unpopular taxes and were personally responsible for any short fall, there was some incentive to avoid appointment. Accordingly, the Monarch pricked through vellum the High Sheriffs’ names on the roll. This was an early form of document security as no official could disguise a hole pierced through the vellum against the appointee’s name.

In 19th century Sheriffs’ responsibilities for police, prisons and Crown property were transferred to statutory bodies. Their surviving powers were codified in the Sheriffs Act of 1887. This Act remains in force today and it confirms the historic process of nomination by the Sovereign.

Today the High Sheriff’s role is as follows:

High Sheriffs’ Fund

The High Sheriffs’ Fund

- Please note the deadline of 1 December 2017 has now passed, you can however apply to our General Rolling Programme. If you need assistance, call the ECF grants team on 01245 356018 - 

The Fund was established in Essex in 1993 and is managed by ECF. It awards grants to voluntary and community groups who are working to make their communities safer and better places in which to live.

Projects which have received grants previously include diversionary activities for young people, schemes which highlight the dangers of financial scams, educational programmes about drug and alcohol misuse and initiatives which support victims of crime.

Organisations can apply for grants of up to £5,000 to support projects in Essex, Southend and Thurrock. The deadline date for applications is 1 December and decisions will be made in February. 

The High Sheriffs' Awards also encourages local people to nominate an individual or a voluntary organisation to receive recognition for their outstanding work promoting crime prevention and community safety. To download the nomination form, click here.

To apply for a grant and for more information, click here.

Working with other funders

The importance of developing relationships with other funders and public agencies is given full recognition by ECF, as the benefits are very clear. By establishing such links and partnerships ECF is able to leverage in funding to Essex which local charities can then access. In turn, the funder or public agency benefits from ECF’s knowledge and expertise of local needs and the issues facing the voluntary sector in Essex.

This gives everyone the confidence that funding is being directed to where it is needed most and where it can have the most impact.

Comic Relief Core Strength - Local Communities

We are delighted to work with Comic Relief on the Core Strength - Local Communities initiative.

This provides funding for groups’ core costs - meaning expenditure that is not connected to delivering projects but focusing on investing in the organisation as a whole, such as basic running costs. 

Grants will be between £1,000 to £10,000, for up to 12 months, and are available to local community organisations with an annual income of up to £100,000.

The grants will be used to support groups that can evidence a sustained beneficial impact on people’s lives who are excluded or disadvantaged. This may be through low income, rural or social isolation, age, disabilities, race, sexuality or gender. Priority will be given to small, locally based groups or organisations in areas of disadvantage. 

Who Can Apply?

You must be a locally led and based organisation. This means you are based within the area you are carrying out activities and have local people involved in the running of the organisation.
This includes:

• Constituted voluntary and community groups
• Charities
• Social enterprises
• Co-operatives
• Community interest companies

Examples of what we will fund:

• Rental costs
• Heating, lighting, water rates
• Core staff costs 
• Stationary, small capital items, internet
• Volunteer costs 

Organisational development
• Staff training
• Trustee training
• Volunteer training
• Fundraising
• Business planning and development
• Developing monitoring and learning

How to apply:

If you are interested in making an application to this programme, please click here to read the full criteria before you start. 

If you are interested in making an application, please call the ECF grants team on 01245 356018. Following a discussion about your work, you will then be sent the specific application form. The deadline is Friday 20 April.

Comic Relief is a registered charity, number 326568.


Helping you to help others

At the heart of ECF is our grantmaking. We are passionate about supporting communities in Essex to take action and improve the lives of local people and the grants we award range from £250 to £10,000 and support everything from specific projects to everyday running costs.

ECF also awards larger grants to support developmental work and multi-year projects and we are always happy to work with our fundholders to achieve their charitable objectives.

Through our grantmaking we have built up a wealth of knowledge, supported by both research and independent evaluations, which helps us to continually understand the voluntary sector.

Applying for a grant with ECF is straightforward and you can make an application to us at any time. 

First time applying?

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your project or proposal with you before you submit an application to us, especially if it is the first time you are applying for an ECF grant. Please contact a member of the grants team, here.

Funds inviting applications

Apply at any time - General rolling programme

Essex Community Foundation accepts applications at any time and can support many aspects of your work including: running costs, salary costs, capital equipment or specific project costs. You can apply to the general Funds at any time throughout the year, meaning there is not a specific deadline for you to access this funding. These grants can support one-off or continuing work and you can apply up to £10,000 (over one year) by using the online application form. To access this, click here.

We are currently inviting applications to the following Funds:

#iwill Fund supports voluntary and community organisations who offer activities which engage young people in their community and increase their understanding of local issues. Please note this funding programme is now open to groups across Essex. This Fund has specific criteria and its own application form which can be found hereApplications are accepted throughout the year.

Comic Relief Core Strength - Local Communities provides grants for groups’ core costs - meaning expenditure that is not connected to delivering projects but focusing on investing in the organisation as a whole, such as basic running costs. This initative has its own specific criteria and seperate application form. The deadline is Friday 16 April. Click here.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your work in advance of applying, please do not hesitate to call the grants team.

Our grantmaking

Each year the Foundation invests around £2 million of grant funding to support voluntary and community organisations in Essex, Southend and Suffolk.

Our average grant is around £3,500 - £4,000.

We manage a number of Funds, many of which are tailored to the individual wishes of our donors. We match their wishes to the needs of the voluntary and community sector to ensure funding is given where it is most needed.

We support a broad range of issues and are able to consider most aspects of your organisations work. We recognise the value of providing funds to support your everyday core costs and we will also consider funding a particular project, for example, providing a crèche for children staying at a women’s refuge. We will also consider supporting a particular aspect of a larger project. Such as, purchasing the white goods as part of a kitchen refurbishment to the village hall.

We do not however contribute funds to general appeals or to other funders.

You can apply to us at any time and the majority of our Funds all you have to do is complete a General Application Form and we will find the right Fund to fit you. Please read the guidelines before you start to fill in an application form.

However, some of our Funds do have their own criteria and application form so check the Funds inviting applications page for more details. 

Please note - if your project is based in Romford, Ilford, Barking, Dagenham etc we unfortunately do not cover these areas but you can contact London Community Foundation.

Make an application

Before you start

It is really important that you read the application guidelines as this will help us to process your application quickly and may improve your chances of a success. Our general application guidelines can be found by clicking the green button to the left. 

We have funds that can support your general running costs or specific project costs. These funds are available throughout the year, there are no deadlines so you can apply at any time. Our general funds can support one off or continuing work and you can apply up to £10,000 (over one year) by using the online application form below.

Application Forms 







- The #iwill Fund has specific guidelines and a seperate application form which can be found here -

We want to make sure that we do our best to help you access our funding. Our professional grants team are caring and interested in how you are supporting your local communities; they will guide and support you through our application process.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply for funding or have any general questions then please call the grants team.