Local charities, clubs and community groups are being invited to apply for a share of £1m in funding from a community fund set up by the insurance company Aviva.
The Aviva Community Fund, which opened for applications on Tuesday, plans to award grants of between £1,000 and £25,000 to 362 groups that run projects in one of four areas: health, disability and wellbeing; support for the younger generation; support for the older generation; and community support.
Projects should be "action-oriented" and able to be delivered in full with the funding provided by Aviva. They should be scheduled to be completed, or at least well advanced, by the end of 2015 and be based in the UK. Projects must be run by not-for-profit organisations or groups that have been in existence for at least six months.
Organisations that apply for grants of £1,000 must have had an average annual income of less than £100,000 in the past three years; those seeking more than this must have averaged an income of less than £5m over the same period.
To apply, voluntary organisations should register on the Aviva Community Fund website, fill in a short form and indicate the amount of funding they wish to apply for. There are 200 grants of up to £1,000 available, 24 grants of up to £5,000, 20 grants of up to £10,000 and four of up to £25,000.
Further grants are available under a separate strand of the scheme in which groups ask an insurance broker or financial adviser to submit their application for them. These are called the Helping Hand awards.
Applicants are encouraged to add photos and videos of their projects and then use Facebook, Twitter, community events and the local press to encourage the public to vote for them.
Grants of up to £1,000 will be awarded to the projects that secure the most votes; the projects that apply for £5,000 or more and receive the highest number of votes will be shortlisted for consideration by a judging panel.
Heather Smith, director of Aviva’s UK direct business, said in a statement: "Our research shows that many community groups and charities are struggling for funds, but a relatively small sum is enough to make a huge difference. We want anyone who is involved with a local group – whether as a founder, volunteer or fundraiser – to tell their story and help us make a positive change for their community."
Applications close on 24 April and the public vote will take place during May. The finalists will be announced on 4 June and the winners of the main set of awards announced later that month. Winners of the Helping Hand awards will be announced in July. The funding for all successful projects will also be awarded in July.