Grants FAQs

Before you submit a proposal

Submitting a proposal

Once a decision is made

Living Wage Friendly Funder


Before you submit a proposal

What types of activity does Comic Relief fund?

As part of our vision to create a just world free from poverty, we fund a wide range of activities through a variety of funding initiatives. Please visit our funding initiatives page to see what activities we are willing to fund under each one as eligible activities will vary.


Does Comic Relief fund humanitarian emergencies?

Comic Relief primarily funds work that aims to bring about lasting change in people’s lives, but from time to time Trustees do make exceptions. Although humanitarian work is not our ‘core business’, at times there are humanitarian emergencies that mean we make donations to crisis appeals in the UK or internationally.


Can I speak to someone about my proposal before I submit it?

We have limited resources relative to the number of proposals we receive and, therefore, are not usually able to offer this. However, based on our experience of working with grant applicants, we’ve provided extensive guidance notes and answers to Frequently Asked Questions that we advise you to read before submitting your proposal. If you have a particular issue that needs resolving before submitting, please email and we'll do our best to help you.


When can I apply?

Each of our funding initiatives has different opening dates and deadlines. Please check the dates for each funding initiative on our open initiatives page.


How can I check whether my proposal is eligible for Comic Relief funding?

Eligibility criteria may vary for each of our funding initiatives. Please visit our funding initiatives page to see what is eligible or not for each funding initiative. Please also check our policies regarding eligibility policies that applies to all proposals.


In which countries does Comic Relief fund activity?

For projects in the UK, we fund work in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. However, please check the eligibility criteria for the funding initiative through which you wish to apply, by visiting open initiatives page, as some funding initiatives may have restrictions.

For our international work, we primarily fund work in sub-Saharan Africa, but also fund work in a limited number of locations outside of Africa. Please check the eligibility criteria for the initiative through which you wish to apply, by visiting the open initiatives page.


How much can we ask for and for how long?

This will vary between funding initiatives, so please check the open initiatives page for more information about each funding initiative.


Do I need to have match funding or co-funding?

Although we’re willing to fund up to 100% of the cost of the proposal, you are encouraged to seek other sources of funding as well. We would usually expect to fund a minimum of 25% of the total costs of the proposed activities, to ensure that Comic Relief contributes to the work in a meaningful way.


Does my match funding or co-funding need to be in place before applying?

No. We recognise that many organisations will apply for funding from a range of sources and match funding does not need to be confirmed at the time of application. However, where we feel that other funding is essential for the success of your proposal, we may ask you for confirmation that this is in place before making any payments if a grant is awarded.


Can my organisation hold more than one grant at a time?

Yes. However, when we review your new proposal, we will consider the extent to which your organisation would be dependent on our funds, along with your capacity to manage more than one grant from Comic Relief at a time.


Our funding is coming to an end but we wish to apply for another grant to continue our project – is this possible?

We’re open to proposals for work we may have previously funded, but proposals must fit within our current grants strategy and must respond to an open initiative. This would also be subject to our assessment and decision making process. We will expect you to provide evidence of good performance and impact of your previous grant. You’ll need to have undertaken and submitted a satisfactory evaluation or report, as defined in the offer letter for your previous grant, prior to submitting a proposal. You would also be expected to provide evidence of the need for further funds.


What do you mean by small and diaspora?

Small organisations are defined as those with an annual turnover of less than £1 million. Diaspora organisations are those with a majority Diaspora representation on their Board, i.e. African Diaspora-led.


Submitting a proposal

What is the proposal process?

The proposal process will vary between funding initiatives, and will be either a one stage (full proposal) or two stage (concept note and full proposal) process. Please check each funding initiative for more information.

Both one and two stage processes will include a shortlisting process and all shortlisted proposals will be assessed.

As part of the assessment process, we’ll undertake a compliance check. If your organisation meets our minimum requirements, the process will move on further, which will involve a telephone conversation or a visit.

Following assessment, we’ll decide whether we wish to fund your proposal and we’ll write to you to inform you of our decision.


How long will I have to wait for a decision?

The length of time between submission of proposals and decisions will vary depending on the process for the funding initiative under which you are applying. Please check the open initiatives page for more information.


What does the compliance check involve?

If your proposal is taken forward for assessment, we will undertake a number of compliance checks to ensure your organisation meets the relevant minimum standards. We may look at trustees and directors to ensure they’re allowed to serve in this capacity. We’ll check annual accounts to ensure they’ve been suitably compiled and signed off. We’ll also check an organisation’s history of submitting accounts and reports to their regulatory body in a timely manner. During assessment, we’ll look more closely at an organisation’s accounts and financial position to establish any potential risk to Comic Relief, should funding be approved.


How do I submit a proposal?

First you’ll need to register on our grants management system.

Once you’ve registered as a user, you’ll need to link yourself to an existing organisation or create the organisation if we do not already know it. If you’re linking yourself to an existing organisation, we’ll need to check with their current proposal administrator as to whether you’re authorised to make proposals on their behalf.

Once you’re linked to an organisation, you’ll be able to submit proposals on behalf of that organisation through our grants management system.

If you are invited to apply for a particular scheme, we will let you know when you can apply.


How can I get help with answering the questions?

There are numerous links to relevant guidance throughout the application form and further guidance available for each funding initiative on its page. If you require any further information, please email us at


What documents will I need to submit?

For two stage processes, we don’t ask for any documents as part of the concept note, so please don’t provide them as we will not be able to review them. For single stage proposals or a full proposal through a two stage process, we’ll ask you to provide:

  • Your constitution/memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Your most recent accounts
  • Project budget. You must provide this in one of our financial templates, below. Proposals not submitted using the correct template will not be considered:
  • Most recent set of management accounts
  • Business case or market analysis (if your proposal is using an enterprise approach)
  • Evaluation or latest report (if project has been funded previously)
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning plan (depending on the initiative)

If you are working with partners we will also ask you to provide:

For international grant proposals we also require the following for each of your partners:

Depending on the initiative, we may also ask for an organisational development plan for your organisation. We will confirm whether this is required as part of the initiative’s guidance.

If your organisation is not based in the UK we will ask you to provide:

  • Registration documents
  • Evidence of trustees e.g. board meeting minutes
  • Evidence of accountant qualifications

For templates for the proposal budget, compliance and financial assessment for partners and organisational development plan, see our documents and resources page.


Who makes the decision on whether to support our proposal?

Comic Relief staff will make decisions on which organisations to take forward for assessment. If taken forward for assessment, each proposal is assessed and then reviewed by staff and in some cases, an independent expert. All recommendations are reviewed by our committees made up of sector specialists and final decisions are approved by Comic Relief’s Trustees.


What should we do if we wish to withdraw our proposal?

You need to confirm in writing your wish to withdraw your proposal and you’ll receive an acknowledgement within one working week. Please note that once a proposal has been withdrawn, you cannot change your mind and would need to start the process again if you wish to submit a proposal for the same work, if the initiative is still open for proposals.


Once a decision has been made

What happens if our proposal is successful?

We’ll write to you with an offer letter and the conditions of our grant. If you’re happy with the terms and conditions outlined, you’ll need to formally accept the grant. We’ll send instructions on how to do this and how to manage your grant with our online grants management system. Please note, we expect successful grantees to report to us regularly on the progress of their activity and the frequency of these reports will be stated in the offer letter.


If my proposal is unsuccessful, can I apply again?

We will consider proposals from organisations with previously unsuccessful proposals as long as their new proposal is for a different piece of work. This may be differentiated through the type of activities, the location of the work or the target beneficiaries, and the project still fits within our current grants strategy.

We will not accept proposals for projects which we have previously decided not to fund, unless we have invited you to resubmit your proposal.

For more information, please see our policy on submission of proposals from previously unsuccessful applicants.


Will I receive feedback if my proposal is not successful?

We have limited resources relative to the number of proposals we receive and unfortunately can’t provide feedback on proposals which do not make it through to the full assessment stage (other than what’s in the letter of notification). We’ll provide written feedback on unsuccessful stage 2 proposals and, in some cases, may provide telephone feedback. This would be made clear in the letter of notification.


Can I appeal against the decision to reject my proposal?

Comic Relief works hard to ensure that all proposals are thoroughly considered and that everyone is treated equally and fairly. However, we will not consider appeals against the rejection of a proposal. If applicants are unhappy with their experience of Comic Relief, and have genuine concerns about the way an assessment has been undertaken, or the general service provided, this should be dealt with through the complaints procedure.


Living Wage Friendly Funder

What is a Living Wage Friendly Funder?

The Living Wage Foundation has set up an initiative called the Living Wage Friendly Funders scheme. This encourages funders in the UK to pay a living wage through their grant making. As of June 2015 Comic Relief signed up to be a Living Wage Friendly Funder. Recognising the commitment of workers we support, the Living Wage Friendly Funders hope to work together to end low pay in the voluntary and community sector in the UK. From July 2015 grants made for projects in the UK contributing towards staff costs will be paid a minimum of a Living Wage where possible.

For more information on the Living Wage and being a Living Wage Friendly Funder you can go to the Living Wage Foundation website.


What is the Living Wage?

The Living Wage is an hourly rate which is set independently and annually updated in November. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. The current Living Wage for the UK is £8.25 and the London living wage is £9.40.


How will paying the Living Wage affect posts?

Paying the living wage applies to all posts, including interns and apprentices, sessional and freelance workers over the age of 16.

If Comic Relief is part-funding posts, we will pay the Living Wage on the part we are funding and pay the differential from the current salary to Living Wage on the part that we are not funding. Further to this, if you feel you are unable to afford to pay a worker at Living Wage and are considering reducing their weekly hours to meet the benchmark, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the matter further.


As an organisation we feel that we can’t take up the Living Wage?

If you feel that you are unable to take up the Living Wage, we strongly encourage you to contact Comic Relief to discuss your options.