The Social Enterprise Support Fund provides essential financial support to help social enterprises in England during COVID-19. It will help social enterprises to meet additional demands, change the way they work, make their spaces COVID-secure, and manage liquidity during the next six months.

Five social enterprise support agencies have come together to deliver the fund. Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, Resonance, the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and UnLtd will jointly deliver £18.7 million in grants, with support from CAF Venturesome, the Young Foundation and Ashoka.

This has been made possible thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF), the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

The partnership is one of five the The National Lottery Community Fund is supporting as part of its COVID crisis response.


Key Facts

IMPACT FOCUS:  People who are at high risk from COVID-19 and/or who are most likely to face increased challenges as a result of the COVID-19, which are led by people from BAME and LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, and leaders with lived experience of the particular issues the enterprise is addressing. 

FUND SIZE:  £18.7m in grants from the National Lottery Community Fund

GRANT SIZE:  £10,000 to £300,000

WHO CAN APPLY?:  Social Enterprises in England with an annual income between £25,000 - £1.5m (prior to COVID-19)

WHEN:  Applications will be received in three rounds:

• First tranche application open: 1pm 13 Jul to 1pm 20 Jul 2020
• Second tranche applications:   1pm 13 Aug to 1pm 20 Aug 2020
• Third tranche applications:      1pm 10 Sep to 1pm 17 Sep 2020


This crisis is disproportionately hurting communities who already experience social and economic inequalities. We will be funding social entrepreneurs who support these communities, including leaders with lived experience. We will ensure they can put their solutions into practice to help people most impacted by the crisis.

The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises will be at the heart of community recovery from this crisis. Social enterprises create economic growth while helping people in need or improving the environment.

Social enterprises employ two million people. They create jobs for the most vulnerable people. Almost half (42%) of UK social enterprises seek to employ people who are typically disadvantaged in the labour market - such as those with disabilities, care leavers, ex-offenders, homeless people and veterans. (Source)

Social enterprises have been hit doubly by this crisis. Vulnerable people need their support more than ever. But they are struggling to make enough income to help people, as their trading activities have taken such a knock. About half of the UK’s social enterprises could run out of cash by the end of June, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, according to estimates from Social Enterprise UK.

The fund is for social enterprises in England, with an annual income between £25,000 and £1.5 million before COVID-19 and is aimed at social enterprises supporting people who are at high risk from COVID-19, and those supporting people most likely to face increased demand and challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The fund is committed to inclusion, working to ensure that the grants reach groups that are led by people from BAME communities, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, and leaders with lived experience of the issues that the social enterprise is addressing.

A lived experience leader is someone who uses their first-hand experience of a social issue to create positive change for, and with, communities and people they share those experiences with.


If you would like to apply, please visit:


View our inclusivity and diversity policy
for the application process