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DfID offers new funding for small UK charities working internationally

DfID offers new funding for small UK charities working internationally

The UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID) has created its first fund for very small, grassroots British charities working internationally helping the world’s poorest people.

The new fund was announced today by International Development Secretary Priti Patel at the Bond annual conference of NGOs working overseas. It will help eligible organisations to expand the work they do to have a greater impact.

DFID’s new Challenge Fund will open for applications this Summer. The Fund will be targeted at small UK-registered civil society organisations, so not just registered charities, with an annual income of less than £250,000.

DfID has never before established a fund for charities of this size.


The Small Charities Challenge Fund has been created in response to the consultation with smaller charities during DFID’s Civil Society Partnership Review.


Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for International Development. Picture: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for International Development. Picture: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development on


Ms Patel told conference delegates:

“Britain’s small charities do amazing, often highly innovative work in some of the world’s poorest places. Often staffed by volunteers, their dedication to the most disadvantaged in the world is remarkable.

“Giving Britain’s small charities financial support will give a real boost to the excellent work they do. I will increase DFID’s support for these grassroots charities as I believe that smaller charities are a crucial part of the Great British offer on international development.”


In June 2013 The Telegraph reported that Patel, then a Conservative backbencher, “said reforms could include scrapping DfID and replacing it with a trade-focused body to help businesses invest in the developing world.”

Now it seems that her views have ameliorated since she started working within DfID. Just two days ago DfID announced that it was doubling its matched giving fund for the DEC East Africa Appeal from £5m to £10m.

Partnership with the Charity Commission

The Secretary of State also announced a new partnership between the DfID, the Charity Commission and the wider sector.

This new partnership will provide training to small and medium sized organisations working overseas on development to build their skills and capabilities and increase their effectiveness. It is also designed to increase public trust and support for development work.

Chairman of the Charity Commission William Shawcross said:

“Helping small and medium sized charities deal with today’s huge risks is crucial. This work will be key in building capacity to ensure these charities can operate to the highest standards. We hope this new project with DFID will lead to even deeper co-operation between us.”

DfID’s main for civil society organisations

DFID’s main funding for charities and civil society organisations are:

  • UK Aid Match – a scheme that match-funds public donations to charity appeals for projects to reduce poverty in developing countries, giving the British public a say in what international development issues are important to them. Doubling UK Aid Match is a manifesto commitment.
  • UK Aid Direct – providing grants to small and medium-sized civil society organisations, primarily for work to directly tackle poverty in poor communities around the world.
  • UK Aid Connect – a new partnership approach that will allow civil society organisations to work collaboratively, bringing together knowledge, practice and expertise for solutions to some of the most difficult development problems.
  • UK Aid Volunteers – which will include the manifesto commitment to triple in size the International Citizen Service (ICS) youth volunteering scheme and provide opportunities for new partnerships with volunteering agencies.


Main photo: Priti Patel speaking at Bond Conference. Photo: Bond UK


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Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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