Application process

Application process steps



Find out about our currently open funding opportunities, our eligibility criteria or funding strategy

Proposal submitted

stage 1 proposal

Applicants submit a Stage 1 Proposal via our grant management system (GEM)(opens in new window) saying what they want to do and the difference it will make.

See more detailed guidance

Proposal review

Stage 2 Proposal

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit further information on their plans.  

Monitoring, evaluation and learning

Proposal Review

We assess the proposal, contacting the applicant to discuss their work and to carry out due diligence checks.



Staff, independent experts and our trustees robustly discuss applications and decide on which are the best fit.

Grant awarded

Investment awarded

If the proposal is approved, we’ll send an offer letter, the funding conditions and work with you to get started. 

What to expect when you get funding

How much money should you apply for? 

Proportion of annual income

We aim to fund no more than 40% of your organisation’s total income in any one year.  This is the case both for overall grant amount applied for by you, but also for any funding distributed to partners. In other words, no organisation receiving funding though Comic Relief can receive more than 40% of their annual income, whether they are the lead applicant or a downstream partner organisation.

At the point of your application, we will use your organisation’s most recent annual accounts submitted to the relevant authorities, and the average annual amount of funding that you have requested from us.  

For example, if an organisation outside the UK has an income of at least £75,000 they are eligible to apply.  If the funding request is for an average of £50,000 per year, this will give a new income of £125,000.  (£50,000 is 40% of £125,000.)

Capital costs

We cannot support projects that include significant resources for capital costs.  We can’t support capital costs over 25% of the total funding request, and we generally expect to see amounts that are far lower than this.

Core funding

We welcome requests for core funding for the majority of our calls. We need to know what we’re paying for, but we’re happy to consider a range of costs not directly linked to a specific project. This could include all kinds of running costs associated with doing the work you deliver on an everyday basis as well as organisational capacity building, staff training etc.


We expect applicants to develop budgets considering likely inflation. The inflation rate used will depend on current and projected inflation rates in the country where activity is being delivered, as well as the particular items of expenditure. We will question any rates which appear disproportionately high or low.

Full cost recovery

We understand that contributing towards broader organisational support costs enables the project or work we fund to flourish and we recognise organisational overhead costs will vary between organisations. Therefore we have no set limit, but we will always examine this figure carefully.

Budgets will be scrutinised at assessment, and all and any taxes payable to local or national governments should be included in the budget with clear rationale.

Match and co-funding

We are happy to fund up to 100% of costs for a proposal, but equally we are happy to be applied to for funding as a match or co-funder.


Where an applicant’s unrestricted reserves are more than one year’s running costs, we expect applicants to make a significant contribution to the costs of the proposed activities. We may not fund the proposal if we feel your organisation has enough to pay for the proposed activities itself. However we will not penalise organisations for holding reasonable reserves to meet organisation liabilities.

Living Wage

We are a Living Wage friendly funder(opens in new window) and expect all UK salaries covered by proposals to reflect the Living Wage(opens in new window).

stage 1 and full application guidance

Submitting the Stage 1 proposal

Unless otherwise stated, all proposals must be submitted through our grant management system, GEM(opens in new window).

More information on the questions asked when submitting a Stage 1 Proposal are detailed in the funding opportunity page.

Full application form

Applicants whose proposals are shortlisted will be asked to submit all documents and complete a full application form (Download an example application form here(opens in new window)). 

Decision making

Decision making

Decisions are made by staff members, external experts and Comic Relief trustees based upon your proposal and our recommendations after assessment.

If your organisation has been funded by Comic Relief before, we will consider any previous fraud or safeguarding issues when considering your new application.  Such previous incidents will not automatically exclude an organisation from future funding, though we may request additional information on any improvements to processes and the way risks are being managed effectively.

Unsuccessful applications and complaints

When we inform you about unsuccessful proposals, we will let you know whether we’re able to give more detailed feedback. This will be made clear in the letter of notification.

Comic Relief works hard to ensure that all proposals are thoroughly considered and that everyone is treated equally and fairly. We do not accept appeals against the rejection of a proposal. If you are unhappy with your 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.

Successful applications

If you're successful, we're going to contact you with all the information needed to get started.

More information on what's asked when receiving funding.

Documents required for applying

For two-stage processes (where we ask for a stage 1 proposal before a full proposal)  we’ll only ask for the full documentation if you’re successful in reaching the second stage.

In the initial stages we will require you to:

At full proposal we’ll need the following documents:

  • Constitution/memorandum and Articles of Association

  • Most recent set of annual accounts

  • Most recent set of management accounts

  • Safeguarding Policy or other policies relating to the safety and protection of beneficiaries, staff and others connected with your work

  • Diversity policy

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


You may also find the following documents useful when planning your proposal:

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

About the project

Project budget. You must provide this in one of our financial templates, below. Proposals not submitted using the correct template will not be considered

If you’re planning work with partners, we’ll also need:

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