Henry Smith Charity Main Grants Improving Lives

    Open to applications 


Grants are available for registered charities, social enterprises and constituted charitable groups to help people in the UK when other sources of support have failed, are inappropriate, or are simply not available.

Maximum Value:                     £60,000

Value Notes

Grants of between £20,000 and £60,000 per year are available.

Funding for up to three years is available.

The Charity will not consider making a grant that is equivalent to more than 50% of the annual running costs of an organisation.

Applications for continuation funding will be considered.

Extended Description

The Henry Smith Charity is one of the largest independent grant making trusts in the UK, distributing over £28 million each year.

Following a review of their grant making, the Henry Smith Charity has launched a new strategy for the Main Grants Programme, which is now divided between Improving Lives and Strengthening Communities. The Charity's main focus lies with funding organisations that bring about lasting change in people’s lives and help them to benefit from and contribute to society.

The Charity's three main priorities are as follows:

  • Increasing resilience - empowering people, encouraging integration and personal independence, helping people to recover and move on.
  • Creating opportunities and life chances - raising aspiration – equipping people with new skills, unlocking and enabling potential, and providing the means to improve life circumstances.
  • Empowering communities - strengthening and connecting communities and making people feel valued, providing opportunities for social connections and relationships, encouraging participation and inclusion.

The Improving Lives programme is aims to support people in the UK for whom other sources of support have failed, are inappropriate, or are simply not available.

Latest Information

Applications can be submitted at any time. There are no deadlines and applications are assessed as they are received.

Key Criteria     

Charities and not-for-profit organisations, including social enterprises, can apply. Groups that are not registered charities must have a constitution to demonstrate a charitable purpose.

Community Interest Companies can apply but must provide details of how its constitution prevents funds being removed from the organisation (asset lock).

The Charity supports established organisations delivering services directly to beneficiaries and is looking for services which can demonstrate a track record of success, and evidence the effectiveness of the work.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Have an annual income of between £50,000 and £2 million (£5 million in exceptional circumstances).
  • Be at least 18 months old and have published annual accounts and a track record.

Organisations must be:

  • Working to create lasting change - having a positive impact on people and where possible, creating enduring, sustainable improvements in circumstances.
  • Delivering holistic support - taking a positive approach to the whole person, addressing multiple issues, with those who are in some way excluded or vulnerable.
  • Providing direct service delivery - engaging directly with people to help them to build their capabilities and tackle the root causes of problems.
  • Monitored and evaluated - information is appropriately collected and analysed with successes/failures used to understand and improve services.
  • Clear and consistent about what they aim to achieve as demonstrated through their actions and practice.
  • Responsive to need and well placed to deliver.
  • Well placed to deliver services and aware of what is going on around them.
  • Person centred - the interests of the individual are at the heart of what the organisation does. People are meaningfully involved in developing solutions to the issues they face.
  • Using resources well - high quality, well run organisations that have the skills and capabilities to make proper and e­ffective use of their resources.

Eligible Expenditure

Funding is available for people for whom other sources of support have failed, been inappropriate or are simply not available. This includes supporting people who are excluded, vulnerable, or facing other forms of hardship.

Example projects include helping people who are lacking particular resources or facing certain barriers in accessing the support, information or care that they need.

Grants are for revenue costs, direct service delivery and for either running costs or for specific projects or areas of work. Where all of an organisation’s activities fit within the priority areas, grants can be made for unrestricted running costs, which may include salaries, overheads and day to day running costs.

Groups must identify at least one priority area that will be focussed on. Applications are not judged on the amount of priority areas, but the quality of the project.

The priorities are:

  • Help at a critical moment
    • Helping people to rebuild their lives following a crisis, critical moment, trauma or abuse.
  • Positive choices
    • Helping people, whose actions or behaviours have led to negative consequences for themselves and others, to make positive choices.
  • Accommodation / housing support
    • Enabling people to work towards or maintain accommodation.
  • Employment and training
    • Supporting people to move towards or gain employment.
  • Financial inclusion, rights and entitlements
    • Supporting people to overcome their financial problems and ensure that they are able to claim their rights and entitlements.
  • Support networks and family
    • Working with people to develop improved support networks and family relationships.

The priorities are explored in greater detail in the fund's guidelines, which are available on the Henry Smith Charity's website.


Funding is not available for organisations that have:

  • Reserves (net current assets plus investments) covering more than 12 months' expenditure.
  • An annual income below £50,000.
  • An annual income above £2 million (unless in exceptional circumstances).
  • Applied unsuccessfully within the previous 12 months.
  • Another application under consideration in any other Henry Smith grant programme.
  • An active grant from any other Henry Smith grant programme.

Funding will not support:

  • Proposals for loans or social finance.
  • Proposals for grants of more than 50% of the annual running costs of an organisation.
  • Proposals that are only for the benefit of one individual.
  • Work that is not legally charitable.
  • Work that has already taken place.
  • Start-up costs, pilot projects or organisations that do not yet have a track record of service delivery, or a year of annual accounts.
  • Capital costs, including new buildings, building refurbishment.
  • New work (work without a track record of success.)
  • Research, scholarships or student fees.
  • Local authorities or work usually considered a statutory responsibility.
  • Schools, colleges or universities, except for special schools exclusively for pupils with disabilities or special educational needs.
  • Organisations that do not provide direct services to clients (such as umbrella, second tier or grant-making organisations).
  • Work that benefits people outside the UK.
  • Uniformed groups.
  • Work that specifically targets current or ex-service men and women.
  • Professional associations or training for professionals.
  • Services that actively seek to proselytise or promote any religion.
  • One off holidays, overseas travel or events (such as festivals, conferences, exhibitions and community events).
  • Healthcare which has a clinical basis including medical care and research, physical therapy, hospices or other palliative care services or specialist equipment.
  • Heritage or environmental conservation projects.
  • Campaigning, lobbying, or general awareness raising work.
  • Work that provides legal advice specifically to support court action.

Application Procedure

Applications forms and detailed guidance notes can be found on the Henry Smith Charity's website.

The completed application form should be submitted by post.

Contact the Henry Smith Charity for more information.

Address & Contacts :

Contact details:
 The Henry Smith Charity 
 6th Floor 
 65 Leadenhall Street 
 Telephone020 7264 4970