Edinburgh Local

Community Grants guidance notes

Edinburgh Local Community Grants Scheme Guidance Notes and FAQs.

Even if you have applied to this scheme before, please still read these guidelines carefully, as some things have changed since your last application.


What is the purpose of the scheme?

The purpose of the scheme is to:  

  1. Have a positive social impact.  

  1. Bring value to new or existing partnerships between the University and local communities.  

Having a positive social impact is given greater weight when applications are reviewed.  


What is meant by ‘positive social impact’?

This is the beneficial effect for local people and communities that you expect your project to create or contribute to.  You should set out as clearly as possible how your project will involve and/or benefit local communities living in the Edinburgh City region (the City of Edinburgh and/or East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Scottish Borders, Fife). 


What is meant by ‘bringing value to a new or existing partnership between the University and local communities?

These are the ways in which you hope to engage the University with your project, and could include any current links or partnerships you have with the University, or ones you would like to form. You should think about ways in which meaningful relationships with the University could be created or furthered, such as the involvement of staff or students as volunteers, linking into the specialist knowledge of academic research staff, or connecting with the University’s museums, art galleries and collections.  It’s worth looking at previously funded projects to see the ways they engaged with the University here.  


One-to-One Phone Calls

If you would like to find out more about either of the above criteria or have general questions about the Community Grants Scheme, the Community Team offer one-to-one phone calls for interested applicants, on the following dates:      

  • Tuesday 11 October between 9am and 5pm

  • Thursday 13 October between 9am and 5pm

  • Tuesday 18 October between 9am and 5pm

  • Thursday 20 October between 9am and 5pm

To arrange a call, please first email us at Local@ed.ac.uk, and we will book you a suitable time-slot for a phone call.


Does it matter where I do my project?

Yes. Whatever you want to do must take place in one or more of the following places: Edinburgh; East Lothian; Midlothian; West Lothian; Scottish Borders; Fife. It also needs to have positive social impact for and involve people living in one or more of these areas. 


How much money can I apply for?

There are two levels of funding available under this scheme. There are two deadlines each year (one in the spring, one in the autumn) to which you can apply for up to £4,500, inclusive of VAT. Additionally, you can apply for up to £500 (inclusive of VAT) at any time of year through our micro-grant scheme. In both cases, these sums are the maximum amounts you can apply for and you are welcome to apply for much less. We may also choose to allocate smaller sums of money than are requested.


How much money is available?

This scheme has about £50,000 to spend each year. Around £5,000 of this will be ring-fenced for micro-grant applications of up to £500, which can be received at any time of year. The rest of the money will be spent through the two fixed deadlines, where applications can be for up to £4,500. We reserve the right to run fewer rounds in exceptional circumstances, but the annual budget disbursed would remain unchanged. 


What won’t you fund?

The aim of the scheme is to fund stand-alone projects. We will not fund: 

  • Salaries, unless staff are being paid specifically to carry out the project in question  

  • General running costs of a building or organisation, including regular overheads 

  • Projects funded under a previous grants round. 

  • Statutory bodies, including schools. We will, however, fund organisations that work with statutory bodies and activities happening on the premises of statutory bodies (e.g. activities at after-school clubs). We will also fund Community Councils as these are voluntary organisations (albeit set up by statute).  

  • Organisations without an organisational bank account. 

  • Organisations without a governing document e.g. a constitution or memorandum of articles. 

  • Organisations whose only charitable objective (according to their OSCR registration) is the promotion of religious or political beliefs. We may, however, fund organisations that have these listed as one of several charitable objectives as long as the aim of the project applied for is clearly not to promote religious or political beliefs. 

  • Standard for-profit organisations. 

  • Organisations with an annual income of more than £1 million. 

  • Individuals. 

  • Renovations or other building works. 

  • Applications where there isn’t evidence of a will to engage positively with the University of Edinburgh and, for our main Community Grants scheme, applications where there isn’t evidence of a will to work actively in partnership with the University. (The partnership criterion does not apply to our micro-grant scheme but all applicants are still expected to engage positively with the University.) 

  • Applications led by members of staff from any university, including the University of Edinburgh 


What if I need funding from other funders as well?

We will consider funding projects where the size of the total project budget means you need to get funding from other organisations as well as us. However, you must have secured this other funding within six months of us making our award to you, or else our award will be rescinded so that the money can be spent in our next funding round. 


What if I’m not part of an organisation?

We cannot make awards to individuals. If you are not part of any sort of organisation, we suggest you make contact with an eligible one and ask them to sponsor your application. All funding must be paid to an organisation’s bank account and the receiving organisation is ultimately responsible for the project and its delivery. Additionally, you must provide a copy of your sponsor organisation’s constitution or governing document by the deadline for applications. 


What if I want to work with the University but don’t have any contacts?

We encourage all applicants to look at the University’s website, www.ed.ac.uk, to find out more about the specialisms and interests of our staff and students; these webpages may be especially useful for inspiration:  

If you want to work with the University and don’t know where to start, you can drop an email to local@ed.ac.uk and we will do our best to advise you on the most appropriate individuals or groups at the University. We’re offering a few ‘surgery’ days in this grants round and would suggest you arrange to have a phone call with us during one these days. 


Can I reapply if my application was unsuccessful in the past?

Yes. Please make sure you thoroughly consult the latest scheme guidance when completing your application, as guidelines may have changed since you last applied. 


How many grants will you make each year?

It depends on how many people apply, how much money they ask for, and whether their projects are feasible and fundable. Since 2017, the University has funded over 100 organisations in the City of Edinburgh and neighbouring local authorities. To date, the demand for funds has always been far greater than the budget available. 


When should I apply?

There are two deadlines each year, in the autumn and the second in the spring. In addition, you can apply for up to £500 at any time of year via our micro-grant scheme. We may run additional rounds if we cannot allocate all the funds through the two fixed deadlines, so please register for our e-newsletter at www.ed.ac.uk/local/contact and/or follow our social media for updates. .


How can I increase my chances of success?

We are more likely to fund your project if it scores highly against the two purposes of the scheme (above), plus: 

  • Takes appropriate steps to look after the safety and wellbeing of all the people involved, but especially of individuals who may be more vulnerable 

  • Takes care of the natural and built environment and heritage, as relevant 

  • Is feasible, with a clear plan for delivery  

  • Has a broken-down, itemised budget 

  • Is explained using plain English, with no specialist technical terms 

  • Offers value for money 


What do you mean by ‘vulnerable’?

We are using the Scottish Government’s definition: all children, plus adults who are unable to protect themselves from harm and make their own choices and decisions. If your project will involve working vulnerable individuals, we expect all relevant people involved (such as people working alone with vulnerable individuals) to be PVG-certified, and for this to be supported by an appropriate level of agreed organisational policy and practice on working with vulnerable individuals. More information about the PVG scheme is here: https://www.mygov.scot/pvg-scheme/the-pvg-scheme/


I work at the University of Edinburgh (or another university). Can I apply?

Sorry, you cannot lead an application. However, you are welcome to be part of an application led by another organisation. 


I’m a student at the University of Edinburgh. Can I apply?

Yes, as long as the work you plan to do could have substantial benefit for local communities and involves these communities. It needs to be very clear in your application how you would reach and work with these communities. As noted above, you also need to be sponsored by an organisation, as we do not accept applications from individuals. (Student societies which are formally affiliated to the Edinburgh University Students’ Association or the University of Edinburgh count as organisations. We do not accept applications from student societies affiliated to other organisations, such as other universities.) 


What if my organisation is in financial difficulties?

We need to know that any money we give you will be used for the work you say it will, and not be used to help save your organisation as a whole. If you can’t guarantee this, you should not apply. Awards are not transferable from one organisation to another, so if your organisation encounters financial difficulties after you have been awarded funding, please contact us without delay. 


Who will decide if my applications gets funded?

A small panel of University staff involved in communications, social responsibility and community engagement will judge bids. We also always try to involve someone from a relevant external organisation. Panel members are asked to declare conflicts of interest and these may prevent them from scoring certain applications. 


When will I hear if my application has been funded?

We aim to let you know no later than a month after the closing date for submitting applications. If you apply for up to £500 at any time of year via our micro-grant scheme, we aim to let you know within one month, and hopefully sooner. 


For how long will you keep my personal data?

We will keep a copy of your application, including your personal data, for five years. Read more about how we use your personal data.  


When can my project start?

Your project should not start before February 2023 and we ask that you do not start your project before the grant award is paid into your organisation's account. 


When should my project end?

This depends on your project. We wouldn’t usually expect a project to last more than six months, however, so please explain clearly why this needs to be the case if you think your project will take longer than this. 


What happens when my project ends?

You will need to complete our end of project report form within one month of your project ending, together with receipts and proof of expenditure. You will also need to return any unspent money to us once your project ends. 


Do I have to acknowledge the University of Edinburgh in my communications?

Yes. Successful organisations will sign Terms & Conditions outlining our expectations and must acknowledge the support of the University of Edinburgh in any materials published for the project and in the accounts and annual report of the organisation. A template to acknowledge University support will be provided. 


Do I have to let the University of Edinburgh acknowledge me in its publicity?

Yes, but if there are, for example, privacy concerns regarding individuals involved (including the privacy of the applicant/grant-holders), we will work with you to ensure these are accommodated. 


How often will we be in contact with the University during the project?

The only formal contacts required once your project has been funded are to obtain our permission if you anticipate changes to either your project and/or budget, and to provide us with the end-of-grant report and receipts. However, we’ll get in touch mid-way through your project for an informal check-in. We’d like to get to know your project and organisation, as we hope to have an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship with you. To help us raise the profile of your project and the Grants Scheme in general, we may also like to interview people linked to your project and take still and moving images of the project in action. We may, therefore, get in touch while your project is live to see if some of our staff can visit you. We appreciate that, depending on the nature of your project or organisation, you may not always be able to accommodate such visits; otherwise, we hope you will be able to accommodate the request. 


What if my questions have not been answered here?

Please contact the Edinburgh Local team at local@ed.ac.uk