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The Sustainable Communities Fund

This fund is managed by the South Downs National Park Trust in partnership with the South Downs National Park Authority and will allocate grants of up to £10,000 through its grant panel.

Partnerships and constituted not-for-profit organisations (which include social enterprises, community interest companies and voluntary organisations) and for-profit organisations (projects cannot be for financial gain to the business) can apply for funding if their project contributes to the South Downs National Park Partnership Management Plan.

Grants are available for up to 50% of the project cost from £500 to a maximum of £10,000. Please note that the criteria of the fund are regularly reviewed and may change without notice. South Downs National Park Trust is not obliged to consider applications under criteria which were in place when an enquiry or expression of interest was made. The Sustainable Communities Fund will allocate grants of up to £10,000 at its panel meetings which take place twice every year. Small grants of up to £2,000 can also be applied for twice a year.

Need inspiration?

Have a look at some of our recently funded projects – which feature a selection of previous beneficiaries.

Application deadlines 

The SCF fund will open for 2024 in February.

Large Applications NOW CLOSED – Panel / Decision meeting on – 23 April 2024

Small Application deadline NOW CLOSED – Funding Decisions made on – 7 May 2024

Application forms are not available online as we prefer to talk to you about your project before an application is made.

Guidance notes can be downloaded here and further information is available below:

Logo for the SCF

The following organisations are eligible to apply:

  • Not for profit organisations
  • Voluntary/community groups
  • Community interest companies
  • Registered charities
  • Parish Councils
  • For profit organisations provided that the project will have public benefit and will itself be non-profit

In order to be eligible projects must:

The types of projects which the SCF has supported in the past are:

  • Capital – such as purchase of equipment
  • Start-up – some revenue costs can be supported when an organisation is setting itself up with the objective of delivering projects that contribute to the Partnership Management Plan
  • Cultural – community arts and heritage projects that are inspired by the South Downs.
  • Events and festivals – events must contribute to and be based on the special qualities of the South Downs rather that simply being a community event which takes place in the National Park. Maximum funding up to £2,000.

The following project types/costs/organisation cannot be supported through this fund:

  • The cost of making planning applications
  • Long term revenue costs including posts and salaries
  • For-profit projects and business grants
  • Commissioning of artwork. Community art projects can be considered if they are inspired by the South Downs and contribute to the Partnership Management Plan.
  • Projects which do not demonstrate public gain and appear only to demonstrate private benefit
  • Academic research. Surveying of wildlife or people as part of a community project can be considered for funding.
  • Projects which have already started
  • Routine maintenance work
  • Vehicle purchase or hire
  • Repairs and renovations to churches, village halls and sport facilities
  • Website projects and other forms of publicity, promotion or marketing. These items can form part of a broader project but must not be the main outputs.
  • Projects which are the statutory responsibility of other organisations
  • Apprenticeships
  • Projects where the main benefit is outside the National Park
  • The same project will generally not be funded more than once but extension or continuation grants may be considered for additions to successful projects.
  • Organisations with more than 1 year’s running costs in unallocated reserves will be questioned as to why a public sector grant is being sought by an organisation with significant reserves.

How much can I apply for?

Small grants range from £500 to £2,000 and large grants from £2001 to £10,000.

You can apply for up to 50% of the total cost of the project the remaining funding  can include investment from your own organisation, or grants or contributions, and contributions in-kind which would normally include volunteer time or materials – the value of in-kind contributions cannot exceed amount of cash match funding that you put forward. For instance if you apply to the SCF for 50% of your projects costs, your match funding element cannot be made up of more than 25% of in-kind contributions.

Applications from local authorities (excluding parish councils) will only be accepted where the project is not the statutory funding responsibility of another organisation and where the local authority demonstrates at least a 2:1 funding ration. This means that the local authority must contribute twice the amount requested from the SCF.

What is partnership or match funding?

Applicants to the SCF must be able to demonstrate that 50% of the project costs will be met from other sources. The partnership or match funding can come from:

  • Local Authorities – it is very important to have a contribution from your other local authorities
  • a grant from a public funding body, trust or foundation
  • a company or business sponsorship
  • an organisations own resources
  • donations of materials
  • in-kind support for the project through volunteer time cannot exceed the level of cash match funding that you must contribute. For example, if you apply to the National Park for 50% of your projects cost then your maximum in-kind contribution and the remaining 25% must be a financial contributions. If your actual contributions exceed this amount then anything in excess of the amount will not be considered as part of your match funding even though it would remain as part of the project. In kind rates are as follows:
    • Up to £70 per day unskilled (a day is minimum 6 hours)
    • Up to £150 per day skilled
    • Up to £250 per day professional (legal and architecture for instance)

When do I need to apply?

The submission deadlines for large and small grants are 1 month before the decision date. Small grants are decided approximately quarterly and large grants are decided twice a year, please see above for deadlines.

What should I do now?

Application forms are not available online as we prefer to talk to you about your project before making an application.

As a first step you should contact your National Park Area Ranger team their contact details can be found on this web page.

The ranger team will be able to offer you guidance around your project’s appropriateness for the National Park. Once you have been advised by an Area Ranger you can contact the Grants Officer for further detail on the application process.

What are the grant conditions?

The standard grant conditions are:

  • All information provided by you during the application process is true and accurate.
  • The grant must be used for the purposes specified in your application form and any proposed changes to these must be the subject of a formal request to South Downs National Park Trust and must be approved in writing.
  • Any assets created or purchased by this project will, upon dissolution of the grant receiving organisation, be transferred to a charity with similar objects or to the South Downs National Park Trust.
  • Voluntary contributions will be recorded in detail and evidenced during the grant monitoring phase.
  • You are responsible for risk management and the successful delivery of the project; if the project is not successful then you may not receive your grant.
  • The grant will be a maximum amount of £xxx and not more than 50% of the total cost of the project.
  • Payment will be made on receipt of all of the paid project invoices which cover the total cost of the project.
  • Any change to your VAT registration must be reported to South Down National Park Trust as soon as possible.
  • The offer is to remain open until [dependent on your project] – please inform us as soon as possible.
  • Any surplus will be returned in proportion to the amount of funding received from South Downs National Park Trust against the total project cost.
  • Your project will not commence until all match funding has been secured.
  • A short report will be sent within 6 weeks of the completion of the project outlining the key results outlining the key results of the project including digital photographic evidence.
  • The support from the South Downs National Park Trust must be recognised on all publicity and promotional material. Please advise the National Park’s Communications Team in advance of any publicity that you are planning around this project.

The grant conditions will vary with the range of projects and will be proportionate to the value of the grant. Additional grant conditions may include an agreed start date for the project, confirmation of financial contributions, the disposal of assets, performance monitoring conditions, evaluation criteria, marketing and communications, insurance, indemnity and any other areas which are relevant.

What information should I have?

  • Links to the National Park priorities – show how your project will contribute to the Partnership Management Plan.
  • Beneficiaries – show clearly how many people from which parts of the community  (elderly or your for instance) will be involved and will benefit from.
  • Location – where will the project take place? Please provide a postcode and site map if possible.
  • How your project will be maintained in the future – what plans do you have to continue the project after the funding arrangements from the SCF have finished?
  • Income – list the other sources of funding for your project including secured and pending applications.
  • Expenditure – please include all the expenditure associated with this including the cost of materials, contractors, printing costs etc.
  • Three Quotes – please provide evidence of three quotes for any expense which is valued at £1,000 or more.
  • Constitution and financial accounts – please provide a copy of your organisation’s constitution and latest approved annual accounts. If your organisation has been running for less than 15 months you may not be able to supply this in which case please send a 12 months financial projection for the year when you will spend the grant.

What about planning permission?

It is advisable to have planning permission in place before you submit your full application but it is not always possible. The panel may consider a grant prior to Planning Permission being received provided that the applicant has committed to the process i.e. a planning application has been submitted or a positive pre-application meeting has taken place.

This decision is at the panel’s discretion and if a grant is awarded it will include a condition that the project must not commence until Planning Permission has been granted.

The Sustainable Communities Fund Endowment has been established through the generosity of our founding donors:

  • Oliver Haarmann
  • Badr Jafar and Razan Al Mubarak
  • Simon and Harriett Patterson
  • Franck R Petitgas
  • James and Biance Pitt
  • Charles and Jans Rolls
  • Gordon and Jennifer Singer
  • James Tuttiett Charitable Trust

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