Charitable funders can apply for a share of £85m in government match-funding when they distribute money to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
The Community Match Challenge opens today, and is funded from the £750m coronavirus support package for charities announced by the Treasury in April.
The scheme will be open until 31 August. It is also available to individual philanthropists, and the government anticipates matching applications in the range of £5m to £20m, according to the eligibility criteria.
A further £4.8m will go to the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership, according to a statement by culture minister Oliver Dowden.
Money held back until now
Civil Society News understands that the £85m now available for match-funding comes from the money which government held back from distributing through the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF).
At the time, the government said it would “review learning from the early distribution” of that £200m programme before deciding how to use additional funding most effectively.
No details of that review have been released.
Pound for pound
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said: “Since Covid-19 hit, the British people, businesses and philanthropists have stepped up and fundraised hundreds of millions of pounds to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
“We're now launching a Community Match Challenge as part of our multi-billion-pound package of support for our brilliant charity sector. The government will match pound for pound what is raised by others, to double the generosity of others.”
A multi-million match-funding scheme was recommended in May by the influential think tank Onward, as one of its suggestions for supporting a “social stimulus” to help communities respond to the coronavirus.
The money for the Community Sector Emergencies Partnership will help fund regional hubs to coordinate local volunteers, as well as supporting a national network managing volunteers across the country and a new digital tool for identifying where volunteer help is needed.
Mike Adamson, the chief executive of the British Red Cross and the chair of the partnership, said: “We are delighted to have secured government funding for the Emergencies Partnership. The grant from DCMS will help our partnership to strengthen its support to the voluntary and community sector, government and statutory agencies as we respond to the next phase of Covid-19 and future emergencies.
“Over the coming months we will be setting up systems to improve coordination across our sector, capture unmet needs as a result of emergencies, and match and coordinate volunteer demand and supply. The money we have secured will go a long way in helping us to achieve our ambitions and establish a legacy for responding to future emergencies.”
The British Red Cross co-chairs the partnership with NCVO, and its members include St John Ambulance, Muslim Aid, Salvation Army, UK Community Foundations and Victim Support.