Press release

£10 million to back Big Society innovators

A new £10 million fund to find and back innovative new ideas for increasing volunteering and charitable giving was opened today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new £10 million fund to find and back innovative new ideas for increasing volunteering and charitable giving was opened today by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society.

The Innovation in Giving Fund was announced in the Giving White Paper published in May and forms part of a £34 million package to increase levels of social action.

It breaks away from traditional government support to focus on new technologies and networks that can make it easier and more attractive for people to help each other. Social innovators have already established exciting initiatives such as Freecycle, which links people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them and JustGiving, which allows people to sponsor friends online. The government wants to help more ideas like these get off the ground so people can unleash untapped community spirit, and even get something in return. 

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:

The Innovation in Giving Fund is a new approach. We want to root out the visionary ideas that too often never get the backing they need. We’re very open-minded about this, but ideas must have real potential to increase the giving of time or money.  

Lots of people already get involved but many don’t for a whole array of reasons, they are missing out. Simple things, like whether or not we know our neighbours, can have a huge impact on our own well-being. And more people doing more to help each other will improve our communities. There’s massive untapped community spirit, skill, and other resources, I want to hear about ways to unleash it.

The Innovation in Giving Fund will be managed by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA). They are asking applicants to submit a short video elevator pitch alongside their application form, the best will then be invited to present to a panel for the final decision. 

Chief Executive of NESTA Geoff Mulgan said:

This country has remarkable traditions of innovation in giving, volunteering and sharing, but now new technologies and techniques are opening up possibilities that would have been unimaginable even a decade ago. We want to get the money to people doing the most imaginative work on the ground - but we also want to help them to be more ambitious about just how much impact their ideas can achieve.

The fund is offering significant investment for the right ideas. Potential applicants can find out more, and apply online, by visting NESTA - Innovation in Giving Fund.

The deadline for applications is 14 October and videos will be published publicly. The Government is particularly keen to see ideas that focus on: 

  • reciprocity - ideas that use reciprocity or exchange to stimulate civic action, including complementary currencies and points or reward based systems
  • pro bono - new ways of harnessing people’s professional or corporate skills to put them to good use
  • donations -  innovations that increase the number of people making donations 
  • sharing - ideas that enable sharing of previously hidden resources and assets, particularly where that can be shown to build social capital

Social Action Fund

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, also announced that the Social Investment Business has been appointed to run the £24 million Social Action Fund - also announced in the Giving White Paper. This fund will aim to support more proven models to help people at all stages of life more get involved in their communities, reach out to people who don’t volunteer and build on the momentum of major events including the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee. 

Published 7 September 2011