Community Partnership grants

About Community Partnership grants

The new UK Aid Direct funding round opened to applicants on Monday 18 May 2020 at 10:00am (UK time).

This funding round closed to concept notes on Tuesday 30 June 2020 at 17:00pm (UK time). 

These should have been submitted via the UK Aid Direct applications portal (opens in a new window).

An information leaflet is available to download and the UK Aid Direct team hosted two guidance webinars to support applicants:

  • Thursday 28 May at 12:30pm (UK time) – ended. A recording of the webinar is available to view on YouTube (opens in a new window).
  • Tuesday 2 June at 10:00am (UK time) – ended. A recording of the webinar is also available to view on YouTube (opens in a new window).

A Frequently Asked Questions document is available to download too. This is composed of questions asked during webinars and questions submitted to the mailbox.

This round will support small to medium-sized organisations who can demonstrate how they will help achieve the Global Goals whilst also addressing the longer term impact of COVD-19. Further information can be found in the ‘Community Partnership concept note’ section below.

Eligibility for a Community Partnership grant (overview)

Community Partnership grants are for small, non-governmental organisations.


To be eligible you must either have:

  • A legal identity in the UK and be registered with Companies House and/or Charity Commission OR
  • Be registered in one of the lowest 50 countries in the UN Human Development Index (HDI) OR
  • In a country considered to be of high or moderate fragility by the Department for International Development (DFID)

It is important to note that when assessing where an organisation is based, the UK Aid Direct team look beyond legal registration. It will consider:

  • Where the organisation is controlled from
  • The level of autonomy of different offices
  • Who governs the organisation, in particular relating to the financial management of the entity
  • If there are significant ongoing operations based in the UK/eligible country office related to the oversight and management of the UK Aid Direct grant.

To help demonstrate this:

  • If a grant applicant is registered in Bangladesh (an eligible country, in the lowest 50 countries in the UN Human Development Index) but all management support functions take place in the United States head office (an ineligible country), with very little autonomy in the Bangladesh office, this will deem the organisation to be ineligible.

If successful, further verification in this area will be undertaken during full due diligence. Please note that the organisation implementing the project in the country of delivery must be registered with the appropriate body(ies) in that country.


To be eligible to apply, your organisational average income must be under £1m, over the past three years. There is no minimum income level.

  • You will need to provide evidence to verify these figures in the form of audited or independently examined accounts
  • If an organisation does not have three years of audited or independently examined accounts, internal management accounts (or similar) can be provided
  • For organisations who has been operational for under three years, an average will be taken on the correlated number of years.


In deciding the final shortlist of grants the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will also consider:

  • The financial capacity of the applicant to manage the size of grant applied for.
  • The dependency that the applicant has or will have on DFID funding. Note: the average annual grant value must be less than 50% of your average annual expenditure.
  • The diversity of organisations able to access DFID funding and market share.

Financial stability

If your organisation has any of the following, you will not be eligible to apply:

  • Negative net assets (where the combined value of fixed assets + current assets – current liabilities – long term liabilities is less than zero)
  • Negative free reserves (where the combined value of current assets – current liabilities – restricted reserves is less than zero)
  • Negative unrestricted reserves (as per your annual accounts)

The above will be verified with figures from your latest set of annual accounts.

Grant size

Applicants can apply for funding for up to £250,000 per Community Partnership grant, for projects lasting three years or less. There is no minimum value that can be requested.

The average annual grant value must be less than 50% of your organisation’s average annual expenditure. If it is above 50%, unfortunately your application will be deemed ineligible.

To help demonstrate this, here is an example:

  • If you are applying for a £150,000 grant for a three-year period, your organisation’s average annual expenditure should be £100,000 or more. This is because the average annual grant value would be £50,000 which will be 50% of your organisation’s average annual expenditure.

Number of grants

  • Organisations can only hold a maximum of two live Community Partnership grants at any one time
  • The maximum combined grant model allowance is five live UK Aid Direct grants of different grant types.

A live grant is a project with more than nine months left to run from the start date of the UK Aid Direct call for proposals.


Project countries

Projects can be set up in one or more eligible country. These are:

  • Made up of the lowest 50 countries in the UN Human Development Index (HDI) or
  • Countries the UK’s Department for International Development DFID considers to be of high or moderate fragility.

UK Aid Direct funds cannot be used for poverty alleviation work or awareness raising activities in the UK.

Note: Projects based in Kenya: to ensure an even spread of projects across different countries, the number of UK Aid Direct projects already operating in the local area will be considered during the application assessment process. UK Aid Direct currently receives a particularly high volume of proposals for projects in Kenya. For Kenya, priority will be given to projects delivering in areas with high levels of poverty (for example, the North, East and urban slums) and addressing issues such as basic health, girls’ education, family planning, and youth employment.

Please refer to the eligible countries page for more detail.


All applicants will need to demonstrate how they are working with national level implementing partners to create and build partnerships that can drive relevant sustainable development results.

There is no set prescription for the number of partners you might need, it depends on your organisation and the project you are proposing to deliver.

Downstream Partners

Downstream partners must be identified in advance.

Whilst there is no eligibility criteria in relation to the number, size or location of downstream partners, all partners involved must be justifiable, along with any associated budgeted costs. In the spirit of the partnership, the main grant holder will need to be able to demonstrate the longer term benefit of working with the proposed implementing partners in strengthening local and national civil society. The downstream delivery approach taken will be reviewed and considered as part of the application process.

To note, whilst we encourage collaboration with Government entities, Department for International Development (DFID) funding cannot flow through them.

The grant holder will be required to perform a due diligence assessment on all downstream partners.

Please refer to the partnerships and consortiums page for further information.

What cannot be funded with a Community Partnership grant

We cannot fund certain types of organisations or projects.

Organisations that:

  • Are not delivering a project in an eligible country
  • Are not either registered in the UK OR in one of the lowest 50 countries in the UN Human Development Index OR in a country considered by the Department for International Development (DFID) to be of high or moderate fragility
  • Are linked to any terrorist organisation
  • Discriminate against groups based on gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, colour, ethnicity, religion etc.
  • Are a governmental and or / inter-governmental organisation (or any other type of organisation that reports directly to government)
  • Are government institutions
  • Are insolvent
  • Encourage activities which may lead to civil unrest.

Projects/grants that would:

  • Support poverty alleviation work or awareness-raising activities in the UK
  • Actively encourage civil disobedience or take a partisan political stance
  • In the case of organisations that include proselytising in their organisational objectives: fail to provide assurances that promoting religion will not hinder project implementation, or lead to exclusivity or conditionality
  • Include major capital expenditure like construction or purchasing buildings, cars or land. Any aspect of capital expenditure included in a proposal needs to be fully justified as directly contributing to a sustainable improvement in people’s lives
  • Support orphanages or other residential children’s institutions. Consideration may be given to projects that support the reintegration into families/family- based care of children from institutions.
  • Events which are not part of a wider project. For example: one-off conferences/seminars/training events/exchange, or costs associated to participants attending events. Provide educational scholarships.
  • Provide organisational support for core costs. Community Partnership grants are designed to provide project funding and all project costs, including administration budget lines, must be clearly related to the project. Refer to the budget classification guidance for further information.
  • Deal solely with the overseas transportation of goods and supplies.

Please refer to the what will not be funded page for further information.


UK Aid Direct Community Partnership grants can be only be used to fund new, time-limited projects of up to 36 months (three years) duration.

The length of your project must be three years (36 months) or less in duration.

UK Aid Direct Community Partnership grants cannot be used to fund the extension of an existing project.

Matched funding

No match-funding is required for Community Partnership grants. It is however, welcome, and should be included in budgets where appropriate.

Consortium applications

For the purpose of the UK Aid Direct programme, the Department for International Development (DFID) defines consortium applications as those submitted by formal consortia only; that is where two or more organisations come together to create a new, formally constituted organisation, with its own organisational accounts.

Informal consortia – where two or more organisations work together on a specific project or initiative only – will be considered as partnerships, as defined in the partnerships and consortiums page.

All formal consortium members must meet the UK Aid Direct Community Partnership applicant organisation eligibility criteria.

To be eligible:

  • The average annual income of each consortium member organisation must be less than £1 million
  • The total combined income of consortium members may exceed £1 million
  • If registered as a separate legal entity, the average annual income of the consortium must be less than £1 million.

If the formal consortium does not have its own management structure, one member of the consortium will need to be elected as the ‘lead’ organisation; that is the organisation through which all funding would be channelled and who would operate as the main point of contact for the duration of the project.

Organisations may apply both as an individual organisation and as a member of a consortium at the same time. If successful, the consortium grant would be counted as a grant held by each of the consortium members and would count towards the maximum combined grant model allowance of five live UK Aid Direct grants of different type types.

Applying for a Community Partnership grant

The portal opened for applications on Monday 18 May 2020.

Applying for a Community Partnership grant is a two-stage process and all eligible applications are assessed by a team of independent reviewers through:

  1. The submission of a concept note
  2. A full application (if an organisation is successful at the concept note stage).

All applications must be submitted via the online portal reached from this website. Applications sent via email or post will not be accepted.

Completing a concept note application:

  • Register online to apply
  • Complete an eligibility assessment
  • Complete a concept note.

Before starting a application, please:

  • Review your eligibility
  • Read all the guidance available
  • Visit the Community Partnership projects page, to see what kind of projects have been supported in the past
  • Watch this short video on YouTube (opens in a new window) which guides you through completing your eligibility check and your concept note online
  • Refer to the news page on our website for the latest information on the funding round. We also encourage applicants to follow UK Aid Direct on Twitter and Facebook (both links open in new windows).
Community Partnership concept note

This round will support small to medium-sized organisations who can demonstrate how they help achieve the Global Goals whilst also addressing the longer term impact of COVD-19.

COVID-19 will have impacts over and above the above the immediate consequences of the pandemic. In the longer term, these impacts may affect the quality of the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised more than COVID-19 itself. The long-term impacts of the virus will be experienced across many sectors and any interventions that contribute towards the achievement of the Global Goals should be considering how these impacts can be addressed in the project design.

We anticipate that potential longer-term impacts could relate to the full range of Global Goals, including impacts on the most vulnerable and marginalised, delays to education outcomes and access to basic services.

COVID-19 considerations

Applicants are expected to outline the anticipated impact and consequences of COVID-19 throughout their applications. Consider the current context in the proposed country of implementation, highlight the challenges and how you plan to address them throughout each element of your application.

We appreciate that the context may be significantly different between now and when projects are planned to start and ask that applicants outline the anticipated consequences of COVID-19 when providing the rationale for the proposed interventions.

We will work with successful applicants during the grant set-up process to review the project design and agree appropriate adaptations that reflect the change in context.

Proposed project

A concept note must:

  • Explain the key objectives of the proposed project, outlining where interventions would be delivered and why these regions have been selected
  • Demonstrate clear understanding of the needs of primary beneficiaries. Primary beneficiaries are individuals who directly benefit from the project interventions.

Project context

A concept note must:

  • Demonstrate clear analysis of the project context and justification as to why the project is needed. This should include available data and evidence to outline the scale of the problem
  • Describe which key stakeholders have been consulted during the project design and an explanation of how this has informed the design
  • Outline the anticipated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the target population.

Approach and delivery

A concept note must:

  • Clearly outline why the proposed activities are the most effective and appropriate approach to address the identified problem
  • Describe how the project will identify and work with the most marginalised and vulnerable groups
  • Outline approaches to beneficiary feedback, gender equality and disability inclusion
  • Explain how the project impacts will be sustained beyond the life of the Department for International Development (DFID) funding
  • Explain how the proposed approach presents strong value for money
  • Demonstrate how the project will adapt and respond to changes in context, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


A concept note must:

  • Demonstrate how the past experience of the organisation (or consortium) applying for funding, enables effective implementation of the proposed project. Provide evidence of achievements.
  • Demonstrate strong in-country capacity to manage and deliver the proposed project.


A concept note must:

  • Outline the identified key risks and present appropriate approaches to manage and mitigate these risks. Risk areas to consider include: project delivery, reputational, fiduciary, safeguarding and operational.
  • Outline the safeguarding (guidance link opens in new window) measures to be implemented at project level to prevent and respond to exploitation, harassment and abuse of programme beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and project stakeholders.


The concept note requires the submission of:

  • Audited or certified accounts. If it is not possible to provide audited accounts (for example your organisation is newly registered) you will instead need to provide internal or management accounts.
  • Information on your income – detailing the annual income of your organisation for the last three years. If you do not have the information for all the three years, please note it for the years you do have available.
  • An outline of your proposed project costs
  • An outline of any match funding being provided and from where this will come from
  • A budget (template provided).

Please ensure the figure you provide in your concept note application is converted into pounds sterling (£) otherwise your application may be deemed ineligible. Always double check the decimal point in your application. A missed or incorrect decimal point could mean that your project budget reads as £198,000,39 (ineligible) rather than £198,000.39 (eligible).

Non-project attributable costs (NPAC/overheads)

Non-project attributable costs (NPAC or overheads), are the costs incurred by an organisation that cannot be directly attributed to a specific project. These can include items such as annual audit fees, trustee meeting expenses, and general office costs. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) recognise that this type of overhead expenditure supports the overall cost of delivering organisational activities and therefore, allows a proportion of these costs to be included in your budget. The amount that can be included will be proportional to the amount of funding requested and is calculated by using the ‘support’ costs, as identified in your annual financial statements, as a percentage of total organisational expenditure.

These costs will need to be calculated as part of your overall project budget and within the budget allocation. You do not need to calculate this for the application itself as we will calculate appropriate NPAC with you – should you be successful – during your grant set-up stage. However, you should bear these costs in mind whilst you are developing the budget for your application.

For guidance in preparing a proposed budget refer to the UK Aid Direct budget classification and management guidance document.

Community Partnership full application

If your concept note application is successful you will be invited to submit a full application for a Community Partnership grant. More information about the full application stage will be provided in due course.

General guidance

Here you will find some further guidance and templates you may need when considering a UK Aid Direct grant. These are designed for you to read and share with your colleagues and partners before completing and submitting a UK Aid Direct grant.