Ideas and Pioneers Fund

Amount: £20,000
Deadline: 16 September 2024 
Duration: Up to 18 months 
A young man is on stage wearing a Museum of Homelessness rain jacket. He is in front of a microphone with a dozen or so audience members photographing and cheering.
Museum of Homelessness. Photo credit: Jazz Noble

We support individuals, groups and small organisations who want to explore a new idea for social change.

Aim of the fund

We believe that the best ideas for how society needs to change often come from people who have been let down or harmed by current systems. We want our funding to help realise these ideas, and give you the time, space and financial backing to experiment with new and different ways of creating social change.

We provide grants of up to £20,000, and a programme of support, to help you develop your skills and explore an idea for social change that has the potential to transform the way things are currently done. The fund specifically focuses on early-stage ideas when it’s harder to get funding and support to develop these ideas further.

The support we provide

As well as your grant, we provide extra support to help you develop your idea. Find out more about what we offer.

Who we want to support

Our fund focuses on both your idea for social change, as well as you as a person. We know that not all early-stage ideas will succeed. We are just as interested in investing in you and your potential as we are in your idea.

About you

We want to fund people aged 18–30* to explore their ideas for social change. This fund is for you if you have: 

  • A connection to the idea you want to explore. We will prioritise funding people with direct lived experience, meaning you have personally experienced the issue you want to explore. We also welcome applicants with indirect experience (you have seen how this issue affects people around you, perhaps in your family or community) and learned experience (you have taken steps to learn more about this issue, whether formally through qualifications or your job, or informally through exploring it yourself).
  • The drive and potential to make social change. We’re not looking for a track record of experience or success and will assess your application on the strength of your idea.
  • Not received grant funding before. We want our support to reach people who would benefit from it the most, including those who haven’t accessed funding or support to explore your idea. 

*We prioritise funding to people aged 18–30, but we do consider applications from those aged 30 and over. We cannot accept applications from those under 18. 

About your idea

We want to fund ideas that are:

  • Challenging injustice. We want to support ideas that show a clear vision to help build a better society by shifting power and challenging and transforming the root causes of systemic oppression. This includes but is not limited to racism, ableism, classism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and/​or transphobia. We recognise that what happens at the small scale reflects what happens at the large scale, so we are equally interested in ideas working at a local level to those working at a national level.
  • Early stage. Our focus is on supporting the earliest stages of exploration and to help you learn from what does and doesn’t work.
  • Original. We want to support people imagining new ways to make social change, which could mean trying things that haven’t been done before or experimenting with an approach that is new to the context in which you’re hoping to work.
  • Long-term. You can see the long-term potential of your idea and you’re motivated to share your learning with others to make change beyond the lifetime of the funding.

What we will fund

We will only fund ideas that have a charitable purpose. Of those ideas, we can fund any activity that will help you to test and explore an early-stage idea for social change. 

This could include:

  • research to develop your idea
  • talking to people with relevant experience to better understand your issue
  • gathering evidence for a campaign
  • developing a product or new approach
  • paying yourself or others to deliver these activities

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it might help you think about what you could use the funding for.

We will fund individuals, and also groups of up to three people working together (you don’t need to be a registered organisation) and small organisations, of any legal structure, that have no more than the equivalent of five full-time staff.

What we will not fund

In addition to Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s general exclusions, we are not able to fund:

  • a one-off or short-term project with limited potential for long-term impact
  • proposals where the applicant has no direct lived, indirect or learned experience relating to the issue they want to explore
  • the production of a stand alone work of art (including podcasts, films, blogs, documentaries, plays or books)
  • rolling out or scaling up an approach that you know is already working or has been substantially tried elsewhere in the UK
  • multiple proposals from the same applicant

Who we have funded

Help with applications

Access support

We want the application process to be as accessible as possible. If this application process is inaccessible to you at any stage, please get in touch with us at accessibility@phf.org.uk. We can provide pre-application access support and a bursary of up to £750 to help you apply.

We use an online application form.

There are three different written application forms — depending on if you’re applying as an individual, small group, or organisation.

A sample application form can be downloaded as a word document for you to review in advance.

Individual

Small group

Organisation

DEI monitoring form

Application process

We know an application process might be daunting, especially if you have not applied for funding before or if you are sharing an idea that you have a close connection to. 

We appreciate the time and energy this can take and so only ask for as much information as we need to help us make fair decisions and to find out more about you and your idea.

  • A grant from us may affect your tax or benefits status, so you need to consider carefully your personal circumstances when choosing to apply to the Ideas and Pioneers Fund. You can find out more about change in circumstances’ from Turn2Us.

If you have any questions about the criteria above that you’d like to clarify before applying, please email information@phf.org.uk.

How to apply

Applying to Ideas and Pioneers is a two-step process.

The deadline for this round of funding is 16 September 2024.

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Getting a decision

We plan for all applicants to receive a decision on their first stage application by the end of October. However, this may depend on the volume of applications that we receive.

We are planning for the second stage conversations to take place in the second half of October and throughout November, with final decisions being made by the end of December. 

Four young people are standing and posing for a photo. One person is laughing and being playfully pushed by another
Fat Macys. Photo credit: Benoit Grogan Avignon 

Start your application 

Sign up to our online portal to start your funding application.