Public funders

Public funding mainly comes from the taxes we all pay to local or national Government. It is a very important source of funding for voluntary and community organisations and includes:

  • Government departments (e.g. The Home Office)
  • Local government (e.g. Bradford Council, parish councils)
  • The National Health Service (e.g. NHS Bradford and Airedale Clinical Commissioning Groups)
  • Government agencies such as Job Centre Plus
  • The Prison and Probation services
  • Arts Council England
  • The European Union and European Commission
  • Lottery Distributors

Some considerations

Record keeping. Public money is ultimately accountable to the tax payer and you should expect to be asked to make regular and detailed reports of activities and expenditure as well as keeping detailed records.

Before you accept public money, it is important that you are able and willing to gather and keep the information they require for as long as it's needed (often years after the money has been spent). Find out more about what records you may need to keep.

Ethics and independence. Public funding presents problems for some groups. For example, think about whether accepting the funding might undermine your group’s independence. A tenants’ campaigning group for example, may not want to accept funding from their local housing trust if they think it could compromise their ability to campaign.

Who can apply?

Each public funding scheme will have its own rules about who can apply. It is always worth contacting the funder directly to ensure your organisation and activities are eligible before you put too much work into an application.

How to apply

Public funders usually have staff that can discuss your idea and how well it fits their funding programmes (usually by telephone or email).

For some public grants schemes you will first need to register your interest and provide a short outline application (sometimes called a PQQ). Once this has been approved you may be invited to complete a longer form.


Contracting is a formal, commercial and competitive process that differs from grant schemes in several important ways  (see "contract or grant?").

Some public money is available as contracts (rather than grants) and the process for spending this money is often described as procurement or tendering.

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