Change Makers


Children Survive & Thrive

Gender Justice

Safe Place to Be – Homelessness 

Safe Place to Be – Migration

Global Mental Health

Application open online

13 July 2020


12 noon BST 25 September 2020 (extended)

Funding countries


Northern Ireland



Funding available

Funding is available for 3 to 5 years

We will fund investments from £150,000 to £600,000

Apply now(opens in new window)

UPDATE: In response to feedback from existing partners and interested applicants, we have extended the deadline to 25th September 2020 to ensure people have enough time to develop their proposals and identify partners. Please also note that for this funding programme, you need to pay attention to the focus on making change. Please consult the guidance and FAQs documents which are available to download further down this page.

The opportunity  

This funding opportunity is about looking to the future and making a bigger change. We’re looking for organisations that will make a significant contribution to their sector – for example, whether that’s forging new ways of working in the wake of COVID-19, contributing evidence that will move things forward, cross-sector collaboration which recognises the way issues intersect, or advocacy and campaigning work. We are looking for change making efforts that are relevant to our social change themes of homelessness, forced migration, gender justice, mental health, and early childhood development. 

Who can apply?

We are inviting organisations to apply in one of two categories:

  • Small and medium-sized organisations that focus on equalities and are user-led. Your organisation must have an annual income of at least £75,000. User-led organisations are considered to be those where the majority of the leadership (i.e. at least half of senior team and trustees) are from the community(ies) the organisation serves.

  • Other medium-sized organisations based in the UK.  In this case your organisation needs to have a minimum annual income of £250,000. 

  • We will not accept applications from larger organisations with annual income greater than £10 million.

20% of the available funding is ring-fenced for efforts led by and working with BAME communities 

Applications can be made by single applicants. Organisations can also apply in partnership, with a lead partner holding the funding.

What is the Change Makers programme?

Coronavirus has had a huge impact on daily life, and Comic Relief has been distributing emergency funds in a number of ways to support organisations surviving and adapting in response to COVID-19.

This call for proposals is different. It’s about looking to the future and making change.

That your organisation makes change for individuals is taken as a given. The focus for this call is about creating change in the wider world, whether that’s locally or nationally. We’re looking for organisations that will make a significant contribution to their sector, whether that’s forging new ways of working in the wake of COVID-19, contributing evidence that will move things forward, cross-sector collaboration which recognises the way issues intersect, advocacy and campaigning work, or other change making efforts that are relevant to Comic Relief’s social change themes.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown much of what we think we know about the world and the way it works in the air. It’s exacerbated issues of poverty, impacted on domestic violence and our mental health, and highlighted inequalities notably around race, gender, disability and sexuality. With the funding available we anticipate being able to fund approximately 30 Change Maker proposals. That’s why we’re being clear about the level of ambition we’re looking for. We want to support the game changers. 

We’re not saying you need to be a national organisation, we know significant change is people powered and can come from strong, passionate, determined community organisations whose turnover is smaller. We welcome proposals from organisations whether you're big or small, national or local. We also want to hear from and support organisations led by, working with and for those who are hardest hit and systematically excluded in society: BAME communities, the LGBTQ+ community, women, disabled people.

What work will Comic Relief support?

Your proposed work must contribute to change for more than your organisation or your direct beneficiaries.  

Some ways you might do this include the following – though this is not an exhaustive list:  

  • working with others directly in partnership

  • creating shared learning, evidence, research  

  • producing and sharing evidence of effective models of working

  • working with others to model new ways of working

The contribution can be to any forum or area that feels appropriate, for example:

  • enhance commissioning in your local area

  • provide a cross-sectoral response to issues in your local area

  • shift the understanding within your sector or allied sectors on an issue, model, approach

  • influencing communities, charities or the public sector to be more responsive and effective 

  • shift policy or legislation

  • shift public attitudes

Finally you’ll see that we are welcoming requests for core funding alongside funding for project delivery costs. During the application process we’ll invite you to tell us what combination of core and project costs you need. We know organisations can feel hesitant about applying for core funds. We also know how much it’s needed. 

Sport for Change and Tech for Good proposals

We welcome applications from organisations using Sport for Change and Social Tech approaches that cut across our core issues and respond to the priorities of the Change Makers funding call.

Please follow the links for more information about Sport for Change here and for Social Tech here.


User-led organisations: Organisations where the majority of the leadership (i.e. at least half of senior team and trustees) are from the community(ies) the organisation serves

Core Funding: Financial support that covers the running costs of the organisation and is restricted to this. This could include salaries of non-project staff, rent, equipment, utilities and communications. This can also include resources for strengthening your organisation’s strategy, governance, or other core functions. If your organisation’s main purpose is to make change at a sector level in one of our social change themes, and it can demonstrate its impact, we may also consider funding core costs only.

Key Dates: 

  • Applications open online: w/b 13th July 2020 

  • Deadline for Expressions of Interest: 12 noon BST 25 September 2020 (extended)

  • Invites for stage 2 applications sent: 1 November 2020

  • Deadline for Stage 2 applications: 15 January 2021

  • Funding starts: May 2021

Expression of Interest and further guidance

Full details of the Expression of Interest, application guidance and information about our social change priorities are available here(opens in new window).

We are sharing these in advance to help you think through and prepare your proposal.

Further application guidance be found here and eligibility information here.

Please note – for the Change Makers programme we are making an exception to our standard eligibility criteria: if your organisation is user-led and focused on equalities, you can apply if your latest annual income is at least £75,000. Other organisations need to have annual income of at least £250,000 to apply.  

If you have further questions you can email in new window).


You can read the FAQs about this funding opportunity here(opens in new window). Have a question about applying to Change Makers that’s not covered on our website? Email us at in new window). We will publish the answer in our list of Frequently Asked Questions on this webpage. The list will be updated regularly so answers are available to all applicants.

Shortlisted applications at Stage 2

If your Expression of Interest is shortlisted at Stage 1, you will be invited to submit a Stage 2 proposal. These will be reviewed by the Comic Relief Team and we will select the final applicants for a full assessment to take place in January or February.

Assessments will be arranged in advance with your organisation and will cover all aspects of your proposal, and your organisation’s governance and financial health and management.

For the Stage 2 proposal, we will ask you to expand on the information you have given us.  This will include:

  • Full budget for the proposal, with clear split of core funding and delivery funding

  • Research or learning from your current work that supports your proposal

  • How you involved the target group(s) in developing the initiative

  • How you will listen and respond to them during its delivery

  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning, including what you will track to show change is happening, and how you will use the learning

  • How you will manage risks for beneficiaries, staff or others in the community 

  • How your organisation manages safeguarding concerns 

  • More information about each partner organisation and their finances, key policies, and constitutional documents

We will also ask you to provide supporting documents:

  • Audited annual accounts

  • Management accounts

  • Memorandum & Articles of Association

  • Safeguarding policy

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion policy