The government’s Social Action Fund, set up to dispense between £20m and £24m to encourage more volunteering and charitable giving, has opened for applications.
The fund is managed by the Social Investment Business on behalf of the Office for Civil Society. It offers grants of £100,000 or more to not-for-profit organisations, public sector bodies and businesses delivering projects in England.
The figure is less than the £24m the OCS said it was worth last month. A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said more than £20m had been given to the SIB for the fund, but the Cabinet Office "is retaining a small proportion of the £24m to ensure flexibility to fund any emerging priorities in social action and volunteering".
A statement from the SIB said it wanted to fund projects that "will expand volunteering and giving of time, money, knowledge and assets".
It will be concentrating on three main themes: community projects; projects that build on the London 2012 Olympic Games; and projects that motivate people from all generations to get involved in volunteering and charitable giving.
To apply, organisations must have operated for longer than two years and have a turnover of at least £100,000.
Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of the SIB, said it had chosen not to set an upper limit to the size of grants so people would "think big".
"We want to hear from people who perhaps run successful volunteering programmes on a small scale and know they could have a much bigger impact with additional funding," he said. "Proposals for projects worth £1m-plus are encouraged.
"We are also looking for a broad range of volunteering and social action projects to support. We would love to receive applications for projects such as time banks, mentoring programmes or community sports days, for example."
Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "Money will go to smart, energetic projects that can mobilise significant numbers of people and help build a bigger, stronger society."
Organisations that want to apply for funding should visit the SIB website. The closing date for applications is 2 November and successful organisations will receive funding before the end of the year. A second application window will open in 2012, with exact dates yet to be confirmed.