to funding individuals

Co-op Foundation research into how to support individuals to create future, fair communities

The Co-op Foundation conducted a scoping study to explore other funders’ good practices and learning from grants they offer to individuals in the UK and internationally.

We used the study’s findings to inform the Young Gamechangers Fund, which gives funding directly to young people or youth organisations. The programme is match-funded by The Co-op Foundation, Co-op and the #iwill Fund and delivered by Global Fund for Children and Restless Development.

Read the full report.


What’s in the report

This report presents the findings of a study by The Co-op Foundation team that took place between December 2022 and June 2023. We reviewed 20 funding programmes through desk-based research and interviewed 16 funding organisations. We looked at funding that ranges from supporting individuals who want to bring social change in their communities to funding individuals’ professional development, and support to individuals experiencing hardship to better their lives.


Key findings

  • Many funders involve the people their funding targets in designing the grant programme through consultation, partnership, or delegation of power.
  • Defining the fund’s target individuals by their profile, career stage, and how developed their ideas are at the application stage is vital to maximize impact and avoid being inundated with applications.
  • Funders set up a one-stage, simple application process, and offer support for applicants with access needs.
  • Funders are increasingly adopting a participatory grantmaking process to fund individuals. Or, they’re seeking expert advice related to the funding focus.
  • Mitigating risks associated with funding individuals includes training, regular check-ins, flexibility and trusting grant recipients.
  • Working with delivery partners from the start of the fund helps mitigate risks and provides tailored support like training, mentoring, and networking.



Engage stakeholders: It’s important to involve target group representatives in fund design, clarify their level of involvement, and understand how much power funders are comfortable handing over.

Take informed risks: Funders need to recognize and mitigate various risks while accepting a degree of uncertainty.

Embedding Diversity Equity and Inclusion: Setting targets for the diversity of the applicants and reflecting on who is being funded is critical for equitable grantmaking.

Funder plus support: A needs assessment at the beginning of the grant will enable targeted, timely and relevant support alongside the grant.

Foster collaboration: Many funders are keen to collaborate with others that fund individuals, learn from each other, influence the sector and share resources.

Balance funding: There is a balance to strike between funding individuals and funding the frontline services and infrastructure organisations for effective social impact.

“Give it a go – that’s my piece of main advice because it won’t be perfect… you see the impact on the individual in a way that you don’t always see through the work you do through organisations and that relationship that you build with those young change-makers, it’s the best bit of my job, really…Do all of the planning too, but do just go for it. The more other funders that come into the space the better, I think”.  – Virgin Money Foundation


Looking to get involved?

Here are some resources if you’re looking to develop your funding to individuals:

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