Alternative funding for small businesses and social enterprises

business support


While the UK government has made a number of grants available to businesses, many will not be eligible to receive funds. In this instance, there are some private funds that businesses may apply for, in order to mitigate their financial losses during the Covid-19 period. These are explored herein; however, we also encourage you to do research based on your business’ specific industry, status, and needs, as there may be additional funds available to you that we have not listed here.  

To search for grants available to small and medium-sized Co-operatives, Limited Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, Private individuals, and Sole Traders, a free database is available with Idox Open4Business. This can be a helpful place to see what funding is presently available locally, regionally and nationally.


The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Business are offering an Enterprise Relief Fund grant for young people aged 18-30 who started their business in the last 4 years. In conjunction with cash grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future.  

Sport England have launched a £20m Emergency Fund targeted at businesses that are delivering community sport and physical activity while experiencing short-term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the impact of coronavirus. Deadline 31 July.  

National Lotteries Community Fund: Activities specifically geared to supporting communities through this crisis, and helping organisations overcome any liquidity issues caused by Covid-19 through Awards for All and Reaching Communities. 

Peace First Covid-19 Rapid Response Grants: Small funds for projects that address community impacts of Covid-19 led and delivered to help young people (13 to 25). 

The Magic Little Grants Scheme offers £500 grants for small local charities and community groups for community projects in Great Britain that support and inspire people to participate in sports or exercise with the primary aim of improving their physical health. Opens 10 March, closes 31 October 2020.  

The Trust for London are interested in new and imaginative ways of addressing the root causes of London’s social problems, especially where it has the potential to influence and change policy, practice and public attitudes. Average grants are around £80,000 in total and normally do not exceed £150,000. Deadlines are 2 June and 6 October.   

Enterprise Nation launched Pay it Forward to help smaller firms navigate the looming cashflow crisis and provide support and advice. Through the Pay it Forward crowdfunding campaign, small businesses can set up a Pay it Forward campaign to pre-book things like meals, a room for the night or a ticket to an event based on a promise to deliver in the future. Crowdfunder will cover all platform and transaction fees.

Sky launched a campaign providing £1m in free television advertising to 100 small businesses. SME100 is open to SMEs that have been running for at least one year in the UK with up to 50 full time employees. Sky Media is encouraging people to highlight the businesses in their local area that need support during this time.

Additional free advertising is being offered to 250 small businesses by Clear Channel. The closing date for applications is 30 June 2020.

Alpro has launched the We’re In It Together fund to support independent coffee shops. UK businesses with no more than five outlets can apply for a £2,500 grant.

Social enterprises and unregistered community groups can apply for grants of up to £10,000 to help them deliver support to vulnerable groups within their communities. To apply for funding, organisations  should contact their local Community Foundation.

With the support of M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Nutricia (Danone), Coca-Cola European Partners, giffgaff, Southern Coop, HEINEKEN and their customers and members, Neighbourly is providing micro-grants of £400 to support good causes that are helping communities affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Future Fund will support innovative UK companies with good potential, that are essential in ensuring the UK retains its world leading position in science, innovation and technology. These companies typically rely on equity investment and are currently affected by Covid-19. The fund will provide UK Government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million.

Creative Industries  

If your space of business is at risk (artist studios and creative production space) for freelancers and the self-employed, you can email the Mayor of London’s Culture at Risk office on

DCMS launched 5G Create – an open competition within the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme. Up to £30 million of government funding will be available, aiming to explore and develop new use-cases and 5G technical capabilities. 

AIM has launched a support fund aimed at contractors and freelance workers in the independent music industry whose source of income has been severed without warning due to lost work in April and May as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
BFI has revealed a £4.6m support package for UK film industry. The BFI and The Film and TV Charity have partnered to create a new industry-backed COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to help support the creative community.

BenSoc, a charity which supports professional photographers and photography lab technicians, is offering small grants.

A few funder responses to Covid-19 

If it is in your best interest, we recommend that you look out for changes in funder guidelines. Many will refocus their grants and may make changes to their priorities, processes and criteria due to the current Covid-19 situation. If you are writing applications to specific funders, you should check their websites regularly for any updates. 

William Morris Big Local
In response to Covid-19 this funder says "We’re still happy to receive your grant applications, despite the current public health situation. We understand that projects may not be able to start until later in the year, and we will discuss timings with any successful applicants after the grant decisions have been made.” WMBL provide Community Chest, Green Grants, and Multicultural Grants. 

Masonic Charitable Foundation – Later Life Inclusion Grants Programme  
In response to Covid-19 this funder says "We have put in place the resources and processes necessary to maintain our support for those who we currently help. Confirmed grants to individuals and charities will continue to be paid as normal. Despite these measures, our response to telephone, post and email enquiries may take longer than usual.  We ask for your patience and cooperation during these unprecedented times." The Masonic Charitable Foundation provides Reducing Isolation in Later Life Grants and Early Years Opportunities Grants to charities.  

Youth Futures Foundation
In response to Covid-19 this funder says "We are aware of the significant impact of Covid-19 and are in discussions with other funders about the possibility of emergency funding. However, we know that long-term funding is also needed. In launching our grants programme as planned, we hope to be as helpful as possible with our simple to access, rolling grants programme, so that you can focus on the vital work of supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities now and in the future." Their new fund will be distributed to organisations across England that have a promising track record of supporting young people (14-24) who face barriers to accessing employment. They will provide Development Grants and Impact Grants.  

The Clothworkers’ Foundation
In response to Covid-19 this funder says "Over the coming weeks, we intend to work with other funders and our membership bodies to discuss how we can support the sector during this period. If you would like to discuss your current situation or your capital grant, please do not hesitate to contact your grants officer."  

London’s Stronger Communities Fund  

In response to Covid-19 this funder says "In line with the latest government advice on coronavirus (Covid-19), we have taken the decision to postpone awarding any new Stronger Communities grants. This means we are suspending applications until further notice and reviewing our next grant panel dates. If you are interested in applying to Stronger Communities, please email and we will let you know when applications are open again.”