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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Making an application
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Stage 2 applications must be submitted in multiple hard copy, with the exception of Stage 2 applications to the Secondary Education programme, which should be submitted online.
We require multiple copies of your application in order 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.