Funding FAQs

Funding FAQs


Is my project eligible?

We generally only fund capital projects (buildings/refurbishment, equipment) and only award grants to charities or organisations with charitable status (or equivalent). We fund within four main programme areas, and you will find more details on eligibility criteria within the relevant area: Science & Medicine; Arts & Humanities; Education; Health & Disability.      

Do you fund outside the UK?

Over 95% of our funding is within the UK. The Wolfson Foundation runs a small number of proactive programmes outside the UK, but these are not open to speculative applications.

Which parts of the UK do you focus on?

We welcome applications from across all parts of the UK. Our emphasis is on excellence, not on any particular part of the UK. We maintain a small office in London as a convenient and well connected location, but we do not have a London bias.

Are there things you don't fund?

We generally only fund capital projects (buildings/refurbishment, equipment), and only charities or organisations with charitable status (or equivalent). We do not directly fund individuals. Our grants cannot cover certain costs, such as VAT or professional fees. We don't generally fund projects where the total cost is below £15,000 (or, in some cases, £10,000).

Please see our exclusions page for details of other specific things we don't fund.

Does my organisation have to own the building where the work is taking place?

No, we will also consider organisations that have a secure, long-term  lease on a building. Generally, there should be at least 15 years to run  on the lease at the time and application is made (assuming the project  is for major refurbishment work).

How soon can I reapply after receiving a grant?

Generally, we ask that you wait some five years between the date an award is offered (not paid) and submitting a further application. For the Secondary Education programme, you should wait seven years before submitting a further application. Please note that we do not consider further grants for a project that we have already supported, so any further applications would need to be for a different project. 

Universities are able to apply more frequently, provided applications are for projects in different departments.

Making an application

How do I apply?

Please visit our How to apply page for details of the application process. Once you have read the relevant pages on our website to check that your project is eligible, you can submit a Stage 1 application via our online forms (found on the relevant funding programme page).

When should I apply?

We have two funding rounds each year, and details of deadlines and timing of applications may be found here. As our assessment procedures are rigorous, it is usual for the time between submission of a Stage 1 application and the outcome of a Stage 2 application to be at least five months. Generally, it is advisable to submit a Stage 1 application as soon as details of your project's costs and timetable are available. 

How much should I ask for?

We prefer that you do not request a specific amount. In a Stage 1 application, we simply want to know the total cost of your project and the amount you still need to raise towards it. In a Stage 2 application, you will be asked to provide a list of discrete elements of your project toward which we might be able to allocate a grant.

How much might I be awarded?

The size of our grants vary greatly across different programme areas. For an idea of how much you might reasonably hope to receive should your application be successful, you may wish to look at our recent Annual Reports to see what amounts similar organisations/ projects have received.

Which programme area should I apply to?

We have four broad programme areas: Science & Medicine; Arts & Humanities; Education; Health & Disability. Generally, the programme area is decided by your organisation's main aims and activities, rather than the specific nature of the project. For example, an education space at a museum will be considered under arts & humanities rather than education. Please read the guidance on the dedicated pages for further information about what projects are considered under each programme area. 

Who should I address my Stage 1 application letter to?

Stage 1 applications should be made using our online application forms (available via the relevant funding programme page). You will need to attach a cover letter from the Chief Executive (or equivalent) of your organisation, and this should be addressed to our Chief Executive (see our current staff list). 

Do I have to make my Stage 1 application online?

We encourage all applicants to take advantage of our online Stage 1 application forms, available on this site via the relevant programme area. It is generally more convenient for Stage 1 applications to be made online, both for the applicant and for our staff. 

If however you are unable to apply via the online system, we are still able to consider paper based applications. Before completing a paper based application, you should read the advice on this site in the relevant programme area on the Funding pages, as well as the How to apply pages. A list of questions that are asked during the online application process, sorted by programme area, is via the links at the bottom of the page here, and you should use these to ensure that all the information we need is covered in your paper application. You will also need to send audited accounts for the past two years.
Do I need to have match funding in place before applying?

In most cases, we expect match funding to be in place at the point of submission of a Stage 2 application (an exception is where the total cost of the project is under £50,000, although it may help to strengthen your application if some other funds are available for the project). Match funding may include funds committed by your organisation, funds already received, as well as confirmed pledges. In the case of Heritage Lottery Fund, we generally accept a stage 1 pass as match funding. 

What costs can be included in match funding?

Match funding may include any capital costs, including VAT and professional fees, related to the project. Generally, it should not include non-capital costs such as staff costs or other core funding costs.

Can I meet you? Do you conduct site visits?

Meetings and site visits are not a formal part of our review process. As such we tend only to hold meetings with applicants or potential applicants when there is a specific matter to discuss. With a relatively small staff team it is simply not possible (or necessary) to meet a large proportion of applicants. We may not therefore be able to agree to requests for meetings, but we are always very happy for you to telephone us should you need any specific advice. We hope, however, that this website answers the majority of queries.

Staff or trustees may visit as part of the monitoring of a project once an award has been agreed.
Do you comment on draft applications?

Due to the number of applications that we receive, we are not able to formally provide comments on draft applications. We are however happy to answer any specific questions you may have over the telephone. It is generally

most helpful to direct questions to the relevant programme manager, so please contact us and ask for the person who looks after the particular programme area that your organisation falls under (Arts & Humanities; Science & Medicine; Health & Disability; Education). 

How will my application be assessed?

We are committed to careful review and as such run a rigorous assessment process. This includes a review of your organisation's finances, as well as expert assessment by internal panels and external reviewers. Further details of our review process. While the review is rigorous, we also aim to be approachable and friendly - and not to be overly bureaucratic. 

Do I have to nominate a reviewer?

You do not need to nominate a reviewer for a Stage 1 application. At Stage 2, we provide all applicants with the opportunity to nominate an independent reviewer. This should be someone who is independent of your organisation (and not retained by them, such as for example, the project architect). It may be useful to nominate a reviewer in cases where there is someone who might provide a helpful perspective on the project and its merits, perhaps from within the relevant sector or discipline or who knows the local area in which you operate. There is no requirement to nominate a reviewer, and your application will not be disadvantaged if you choose not to, as we send all applications out to our own carefully selected, independent reviewers.   

Can I submit my Stage 2 application online?

Science and Medicine and Arts and Humanities: Stage 2 applications must be submitted in multiple hard copy as outlined in the Guidelines. A copy of the application should also be emailed to the relevant Programme Manager.

Health and Disability: As stated in the Guidelines, a copy of the application should be emailed to the Programme Manager (no hard copies required).

Secondary Education: Applications are submitted via an online application form.

With the exception of the Secondary Education programme, there is no form (other than a brief summary sheet) or template for Stage 2 Applications. This allows scope for you to present your application in a way that reflects your organisation and brings your project to life (within the limits outlined in our Stage 2 guidance notes). We feel that this allows us to better understand your organisation and project than would be the case from a prescriptive, online form. Such an approach is suitable at Stage 1, but at this stage we want a more detailed, nuanced application.

Where we require multiple copies of your application, this is so that they may be sent to our reviewers and expert panel members (see here for details of our review process). As we receive a large number of applications each funding round, we are unable to make multiple copies in house. We currently ask that applications are secured with treasury tags in the top left corner, as this easily allows us to add additional pages (such as assessment and recommendation pages), in a way that stapled or bound applications would not.
Why do you have a two stage application process?

We fund within defined programme areas, and carefully review all applications going to the Board of Trustees. To ensure your project is eligible, and to save applicants, staff and our external reviewers from investing unnecessary time and effort, we request a Stage 1 application that requires only brief information. This ensures that organisations invited to submit more detailed Stage 2 applications are eligible for funding under one of our programmes (although of course funding is not guaranteed). 

Why do you only fund capital projects?

We believe that continued investment in and maintenance of infrastructure is vital for organisations across the sectors that we fund. We are conscious both of the pressures on capital funding and the fact that relatively few funders have the scale to provide significant funding toward large scale capital projects. We do, however, run a number of targeted, closed programmes providing bursaries or scholarships.

How do you define excellence?

Our intention is that a Wolfson award demonstrates that the applicant has reached a certain level of excellence - a gold standard as well as a grant. In this way we hope to promote and support excellence.

Excellence is however defined differently within each of our programme areas. While, for example, a university would be expected to demonstrate international competitiveness in their research, a grassroots charity providing (for example) facilities for people with disabilities in a particular locality would need to show a level of professionalism and demonstrate excellence in delivering real benefits to those it supports. We are also aware of barriers to people accessing top performing organisations, particularly in the area of education, and so we divert a portion of our funds to bursary and scholarship programmes.
Can I receive feedback on my application?

We receive many hundreds of applications each year and unfortunately it is not possible to provide detailed feedback in all instances. Where a major proposal has been unsuccessful at stage 2 we offer a telephone conversation to provide specific points of feedback.