Guidance on managing your grant

We are committed to working with the organisations we support to create lasting change. The guidance below sets out what to expect during your funding from Comic Relief.

Accepting our offer

Before your funding can start, you will need sign up to our funding conditions and a payment schedule based upon the project budget. You can see our standard conditions of funding here. Please note that we reserve the right to amend these conditions and your payment schedule.

Project visits

We visit many of the projects we fund so that we can see the impact our funding is having. If we do visit your project we will agree with you before what we will cover. Project visits are often a chance for us to:

  • Understand more about the project

  • Check that the work is being delivered as expected

  • Discuss any problems, challenges or changes

Keeping us informed

We believe that building an open and honest dialogue with our funding holders creates a better chance for the work we are funding to lead to lasting social change. This means that we want to hear about your successes but also any issues, challenges or changes. Reporting points and project visits are important moments during the funding period for you to help us understand more. We will give you feedback after reports and visits, sharing our assessment of progress to date and in some cases requesting further information.

In addition, funding holders are also required to inform us immediately if they become aware of anything that could reasonably be expected to have an adverse effect on the organisations we are funding, the project or Comic Relief. This includes any of the following:

  • Significant delays or overspend to the project

  • Adverse publicity

  • Allegations or suspicion that any part of the funding has been misused

  • Significant changes in key project staff, senior staff within the organisation or trustees

  • Material changes in financial position or prospects of the organisations we are funding

  • Changes to the funding holder’s auditors

  • Legal proceedings have been started against the organisations we are funding or instigated by them against any other party

  • Safeguarding incident (i.e. any incident concerning a member of staff or volunteer that has led to a referral to a relevant authority or

    any practice in your project that has resulted in contact with a relevant authority because of safeguarding concerns)

  • Serious incident report which has been made to any regulatory authority

Changes during the lifetime of your funding

Comic Relief is committed to being a flexible and responsive funder. Where possible we will work with funding holders to address the issues and challenges you are facing or to respond to learning coming from your project. In some circumstances this may mean that we are able to agree to changes to the funding, for example to its duration, targets or budgeting. Any significant change to the project or organisations we are funding must be discussed with us in advance and agreed to in writing.

Underspend and overspend

We recognise that however carefully a project has been planned, what it actually costs to deliver will often be different than what was originally budgeted. We ask funding holders to explain any underspend or overspend greater than 20% in their financial reports, both for individual budget lines and for annual totals. Funding holders should also explain in their financial reporting how the budget for subsequent years will be adjusted.

Where underspend is accumulated in the final year we reserve the right to require all unspent funds to be returned to Comic Relief. In some circumstances we may consider proposals for how unspent funding can be used in a way that is consistent with the aims of the original funding proposal. Unspent funds may only be used with our prior written approval.

Inflation during the lifetime of your funding

Where the eventual inflation rate is significantly higher than expected at the time of submitting your proposal we are unable to provide any further funding to supplement initial funding. However, we can take a flexible approach and will consider proposals from the funding holder on how restructuring budgets will help alleviate the impact of higher than anticipated inflation.

Exchange and interest rate gains and losses

Comic Relief acknowledges that where a foreign currency loses its value against the pound, there will be less money available to deliver activities but it is unable to provide any further funding to supplement the initial funding. However, we can take a flexible approach and will consider proposals from the funding recipient on how restructuring their budgets will minimise the impact of losses. Where there are more advantageous exchange rates than originally envisaged in the proposal there will be a resulting underspend. We would expect that you discuss with us whether the underspend could be used to enhance the existing project and, if not, would require it to be returned or withheld from final payment.

Comic Relief appreciates that funding recipients may earn money on funds held prior to being spent on the project (e.g. by accruing interest). We take the view that it would neither be appropriate nor feasible to require you to report to us on sums earned. We do not require such gains to be returned to us, but expect that these gains would be allocated to work within the spirit of the original funding agreement.

Managing and disposing capital items

Where funding has been awarded to purchase capital items (like computers or vehicles), items must be used predominately for the purposes of the project we are funding. Where high value items are being acquired we expect organisations to have procurement policies in place which represents good practice. You and your partners must, on request, be able to provide these policies and demonstrate that they are being adhered to.

If you or your partners wish to sell or dispose of capital items (other than in order to make a direct replacement) or use for any other purpose than agreed, you must obtain prior written approval from Comic Relief. Organisations must be able to demonstrate that they comply with relevant national laws and guidelines on the disposal of assets.

When funding comes to an end, Comic Relief will discuss and agree a disposal plan for capital items with funding holders, ensuring they continue to be used effectively in the spirit of the original agreement and by the organisations who we have funded.

Paying for long-term periods of absence on Comic Relief funded posts

In the event that a staff member funded with Comic Relief money goes on a long-term leave of absence, Comic Relief’s funding should be directed to a replacement of that post.

Any support that your organisation provides to the absent staff member in addition to statutory entitlements would come out of your own contingencies. Comic Relief will not in normal circumstances provide any additional funding, however we can take a flexible approach and will consider proposals how budgets can be restructured to minimise the impact. We recognise that where projects are delivered by staff with long term health conditions, organisations may wish to budget for more frequent absence periods.

Continuation funding

Comic Relief may consider proposals for work we have previously funded in whole or part. Proposals must fit within the current funding strategy and should respond to an open initiative. Such proposals would be subject to our usual assessment and decision making process. Applicants would be expected to have provided evidence of good performance and impact of their previous funding, and have undertaken and submitted a satisfactory evaluation or report as defined in the offer letter for their previous fund, prior to submitting a new proposal.

You would also be expected to provide evidence of the need for further funds. We are keen to see organisations diversifying their funding base and not become over dependent on any single source of funding, including our own. For this reason, we would not usually expect to fund an organisation for the same work more than three times.

Comic Relief is open to proposals for work previously funded by other donors. If a proposal is submitted for work that has been previously funded by another donor, the proposal and assessment process would need to see evidence of, and reference to, good performance and impact of the previous funding.

Open data

Transparency is an important principle for Comic Relief and we are accountable to both our beneficiaries and those who provide funding to us (funding partners and the UK public) on how we use that money. As a responsible funding maker we also support sector initiatives to make funding streams more transparent. To meet these commitments we strive to make our data on what funding we make, where and for what purpose, as clear and accessible as possible. We currently publish data about our funding on our website and through a number of open data platforms designed to support a better understanding of funding streams in the charitable sector. For more information how we publish data see our Funding Open Information(opens in new window) Policy.

Complaints about how we are managing your funding

Comic Relief is committed to operating with openness, honesty and integrity. We recognise that an important part of this commitment is ensuring we have policies and the processes in place to ensure those who may have complaints or concerns about our organisation or operations can freely report any such concerns. Where you have concerns about how Comic Relief is managing your funding the first point of contact will in most circumstances be the funding owner – the member of our team responsible for your funding. If for any reason it is not appropriate to contact your funding owner with your concerns, please refer to our complaints process.