Charities and social enterprises are being encouraged to apply for a share of £2.5m of grant funding that the banking group Santander plans to give this year to local projects working with disadvantaged people.
The bank’s new Discovery Foundation, which launched on 1 March, aims to make grants worth up to £5,000 to "skills, knowledge and innovation" projects in the UK.
Charities, community interest companies and credit unions are eligible to apply for this funding, which is available for one year, providing their project is locally focused and not a national initiative.
Nathan Bostock, chief executive of Santander UK and chair of the Discovery Foundation, said the grants would support small, local charities.
Funding can be solicited in three categories: "explorer", for projects involved in improving people’s knowledge; "transformer", for projects that support people’s skills and experience; and "changemaker", for projects that provide innovative solutions to social challenges.
The Discovery Foundation website says the nominations most likely to be successful are those that request funding for a specific item or cost rather than for a general contribution to a much larger fundraising target.
It is also important to explain how the grant will specifically help disadvantaged people, it says.
The foundation’s definition of disadvantaged people is any group that cannot participate fully in society, which is excluded or which faces barriers to taking part in day-to-day activities. Examples might include people on restricted income, rurally isolated people or the disabled.
It says charities working in up to two or three counties will be considered local for the purposes of the programme, as will smaller ones that operate in a specific town or village.
Grants can be used to cover part-time salaries, equipment or materials.
Organisations can nominate themselves by completing a discovery grants nomination form at any branch of Santander and dropping it into the nomination box in the branch. They can also ask Santander customers and staff members to do this on their behalf.
There are no closing dates and grants will be made every month. Successful applicants will be notified by e-mail within a month of submitting a nomination.