COVID-19 support for the third sector

Information and support for third sector organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding for communities and the third sector

The SCVO website is the main hub of information and support for communities and the third sector. It's being updated regularly with new funds from both government and independent sources. 

Updated 05 January 2021: The Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme is a £25m fund which aims to support charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations that are supporting people and communities through the shift from lockdown to recovery.

The programme has two strands:

Strand one - Adapt and Thrive: aims to support organisations across the third sector to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and build back better to thrive in the future. The programme will help organisations to make the necessary changes to operate sustainably so they can continue to have a positive impact On people and communities. The programme is now open for applications and will run until March 2021.

As communities of all sizes continue to deal with high levels of uncertainty due to COVID-19 and the restrictions imposed, there will be two changes to the programme’s criteria from 11 January 2021:

  • Eligible organisations can access funding regardless of turnover size
  • The top value of grants will increase from £25K to up to £75K

Stand two - Communities Recovery Fund: aims to support charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations in supporting people and communities through the shift from lockdown to recovery and tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19. 

New templates and guidance for applicants have been added to the SCVO website
We also have some quick guidance for Communities Recovery Fund applicants in our region.

Updated 18 December: Community Response, Recovery & Resilience Fund reopened for applications This next round of funding is focused on the Recovery phase with grants between £1,000 and £5,000 available to constituted community groups and registered charities with an annual income of less than £250,000. This fund is currently paused and will reopen on 11 January. 

Updated 02 December: Kickstart scheme The UK government’s Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.

Any organisation can apply for funding, no matter what size you are, and there’s no limit on the number of 6 month job placements you can request. However, if you are employing less than 30 Kickstart roles, you need to apply through an intermediary representative. SCVO is able to act as a representative for all third sector organisations and can support you with your application

13 September: Islands Green Recovery Programme - Island communities will benefit from a £2 million programme of locally led green projects designed to help support their economic recovery from COVID-19. The programme is split into four strands and managed by four partners, delivering investment in low carbon transport, food sustainability and zero waste projects. Part of the funding will be used to help independent food retailers and businesses introduce packaging-free shops and remove the need for disposable packaging. Sustainable travel initiatives, climate change projects and projects to improve local supply chains can also apply for funding. The £2 million is shared between:

  • Zero Waste Scotland fund - £300,000 to introduce packaging free shops
  • Energy Saving Trust fund - £300,000 to support carbon neutral initiative
  • Inspiring Scotland fund - £900,000 to support community recovery project
  • HIE fund - £500,000 to support green economic recovery

Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development Funding of between £1,000 and £50,000 is available to both groups and individuals. The overall budget is £7.5 million and is open year-round with no application deadline. Read the eligibility criteria and apply on Creative Scotland’s website. 

15 July: Inspiring Scotland’s Creative Communities Cultural Funding Programme the Creative Communities Cultural funding programme will distribute up to £600,000 to support communities to develop new initiatives involving culture and creative arts for the period October 2020-June 2021. Inspiring Scotland is working with Scottish Government to deliver the Creative Communities Cultural funding programme. The programme has been developed to deliver aspects of the new Culture Strategy for Scotland. Inspiring Scotland will also provide a number of community organisations with development support to progress ideas to the point where they can be more fully funded over the course of a second year. 

The SCVO website is also being kept up to date with a list of Coronavirus specific funds from independent funders, keep an eye on the list

Closed funds

A list of funds that have now closed are included below.

Closed 05 October: Connecting Scotland is a Scottish Government programme set up to support people who are digitally excluded. It provides iPads, Chromebooks and support to develop digital skills.

Phase 2 closed on 05 October. It had focused on: households with children, or where a child is normally resident (this includes pregnant women with no child in the households; and care leavers up to the age of twenty-six (in line with eligibility for aftercare support).

Community Climate Asset Fund - £3.5 million to help deliver climate-friendly projects closed to applicants on 09 November.

The Community Climate Asset Fund was set up to provide grants of up to £100,000 for projects supporting community climate action including those that boost energy efficiency in community buildings, and that enable the purchase of electric bikes and vehicles.

Smaller grants of up to £10,000 will support active travel and waste reduction projects, and enable community groups and schools to purchase tools and equipment for food growing projects.

The fund is administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful 

Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund closed to applicants on 24 September. The Scottish Government announced a £59 million fund on 28 August for culture and heritage. The first phase of this fund opened to applications on 17 September and closed on 24 September. 

CARES funding available to help communities make a green recovery the deadline of 02 September has now passed. Communities, public sector organisations and rural businesses looking to make long term environmental changes and play a part in the green recovery after COVID-19 are encouraged to apply.

Closed £20m Supporting Communities fund The supporting communities fund includes an initial investment of £10m, with approval for a further £10m, targeted through community anchor organisations (CAO) that are already playing a key active role in providing services within the community and will likely have established networking and connections through the communities. A list of all communities who have secured an award through the Supporting Communities Fund is available on the SCVO website here

Wellbeing fund - closed

Background: The Wellbeing Fund was set up to support organisations across the third sector that are providing important services for people as a result of coronavirus.

£10m has already been allocated for immediate priorities and £7 million has been committed to provide around 2,000 charities with small grants through Corra, Inspiring Scotland, STV Appeal, SCVO and Scotland’s Third Sector Interfaces. The remaining £33 million was open to bids from Third Sector Organisations until 22 May.

Food fund - closed

£60 million has been allocated to structured public sector responses to support people facing additional barriers to accessing food, including those in the “shielded group”. A further £10 million is being used to support third sector infrastructure and community based action on food provision.   

Applications were made through the Wellbeing Fund.

£20M THIRD SECTOR RESILIENCE FUND - phase 2 now closed

The Scottish Government has allocated £20m towards a third sector resilience fund. It has been set up to help third sector organisations affected by cash flow and other problems as an impact of COVID-19.

View all awards made here



Other sources of funding for communities and the third sector

There are a number of funding sources available to community groups and third sector organisations now available. The following includes government funds being delivered through some of our partnership organisations and includes links to their websites to find out more and information on how to apply. 

Community Response, Recovery & Resilience Fund - now open

The Community Response, Recovery and Resilience fund has reopened for applications. This next round of funding is focused on the Recovery phase with grants between £1,000 and £5,000 available to constituted community groups and registered charities with an annual income of less than £250,000. The fund is managed by Foundation Scotland in partnership with the National Emergencies Trust.

The fund will support organisations to continue their operations in the ‘new normal’, to re-establish or re-design their activities to comply with new regulations in addition to providing emergency support for those who need it most.

The focus of Recovery funding is to provide the following:

  • Support for the ongoing needs of vulnerable people to ensure their health and wellbeing is maintained
  • Support to groups and activities supporting vulnerable people self-isolating (the elderly, people with pre-existing medical conditions etc.)
  • Support for foodbanks and organisations working to combat hardship caused by the pandemic including child hunger
  • Support to aid community response coordination
  • Support for volunteer costs for new and existing organisations
  • Additional costs to support a move to remote working and adapting services delivered in the wider community
  • Additional financial support as required for organisations providing emotional support, mental health and wellbeing and bereavement support

Further information on priority areas, how funds might be used, eligibility, exclusions, timescales and application details are no the Foundation Scotland website. 

Visit Foundation Scotland 

Credit Union Resilience Loans - fund closed

The Scottish Government had set up the Credit Union Resilience Fund to support credit unions who needed additional support during this difficult period. Social Investment Scotland (SIS) is managing the fund.

Find out more on the SIS website

CAF rapid response fund - paused

CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) has launched a rapid response fund to help smaller charitable organisations affected by the impact of Covid-19. Grants of up to £10,000 will help them to continue to deliver much needed support to our communities across the UK.

Applications are currently paused. Find out more on the CAF website.    

Visit the CAF website






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Plunkett Foundation

A dedicated programme of support has been launched by the Plunkett Foundation to help rural community businesses across the UK as they battle the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus lockdown.

Thanks to funding from the Co-op, Plunkett will offer a dedicated package of free Covid-19 support for open and trading community businesses, as well as those developing groups that have been affected by the pandemic.

The new scheme will focus on getting one-to-one support to groups that need it the most. This will include free practical support from Plunkett’s national network of specialist community businesses advisers. All forms of community business – including woodlands, farms, bakeries, pubs and shops – will be able to get support, advice and guidance on a range of issues such as;

  • developing short – medium term cash flow,
  • reviewing business plans,
  • applying for funding,
  • upholding good practice governance,
  • utilising community shares and accessing government support.

Get support here

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COVID-19 third sector information, support and guidance

Helping you face the challenges brought about by COVID-19


Read COVID-19 advice from the Employee Ownership Association - including access to their webinars and FAQs from members of the employee-owned community. Visit the EOA website


COVID-19 is impacting everyone and Scotland’s voluntary sector has never been more needed. We don’t know what the long-term impacts will be but we do know how important it is to record what’s going on now so we can build on everything we’ve learnt to support our futures.

SCVO is part of the UK-wide #NeverMoreNeeded campaign aiming to remind government, funders, donors and the general public of how essential the voluntary sector is – you can join in too! Visit the SCVO website to find out how.

COVID-19 restrictions - a guide for voluntary organisations

SCVO has a wealth of information on how voluntary organisations can comply with guidelines and safely support staff, users and volunteers. Visit the SCVO support hub

Events and training 

SCVO has a really useful events and training section that's regularly updated. Explore what's coming up


DigiShift by the SCVO started off as large zoom calls in collaboration with Third Sector Labs. It began as a space for everyone to share challenges and solutions of moving quickly to digital service delivery. They have become a collaborative networking space where we work together with experts to formulate best practice. 

There's a host of resources, watchback webinars and podcasts on the SCVO DigiShift hub



Communities across the region are benefiting from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund and bringing vital resources to their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.