Bright Ideas Fund FAQs

Frequently asked questions for the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund.

Who can apply to the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund?

Maybe you have a local community asset that you’ve saved but don’t know what it could be turned into? Or a community business idea that you don’t know how to get off the ground?

If you are a community group or organisation who would like to set up a community business but need a bit of support, then this fund is for you.

What questions should I be asking myself to ensure that I'm eligible for Bright Ideas?

Ensuring that your application is eligible and meets the requirements of  Bright Ideas is key. If you ask the following questions of your application and your answer to all four is YES, you should be eligible to apply.

  • Is it LOCAL?
  • Is the organisation led/run BY local people (not just FOR them)?
  • Is it going to be a BUSINESS (using trading, not a grant funded project)
  • Do you want to use a grant to DEVELOP THE BUSINESS IDEA (not use a grant for the revenue costs of the service)?

In addition, in order to be eligible for Bright Ideas you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an incorporated or unincorporated organisation, but not an individual.
  • Have been established for 5 years or less. Bright Ideas aims to support NEW community businesses and we will therefore not accept applications from well-established organisations, defined as 5+ years old. This also applies to organisations that are over 5 years old who are promoting a ‘new’ community business idea.
  • You must have a charitable purpose at the heart of the project you’re asking us to fund, which meets charitable needs in your community.
  • For a project to be charitable, it needs to have both a charitable purpose and to be for public benefit.
  • Your community business idea must be intended to deliver benefit in one of the seven core impact areas below:
  1. Reduce social isolation
  2. Improve health and wellbeing
  3. Increase employability
  4. Create better access to basic services
  5. Improve the local environment
  6. Enable greater community cohesion
  7. Foster greater community pride and empowerment

What is a 'community business'?

Communities come together and set up community businesses to address challenges they face together.

There are many types of community business. They can be shops, farms, pubs or call centres. What they all have in common is that they are accountable to their community and that the profits they generate deliver positive local impact.

Power to Change is an independent charitable trust set up with a £150 million endowment from Big Lottery Fund. Our role is to support community businesses to create better places across England over the next ten years.

The four key features of a community business are:

  • Locally rooted: They are rooted in a particular geographical place and respond to its needs. For example, that could be high levels of urban deprivation or rural isolation.
  • Trading for the benefit of the local community: They are businesses. Their income comes from things like renting out space in their buildings, trading as cafes, selling produce they grow or generating energy.
  • Accountable to the local community: They are accountable to local people, for example through a community shares offer that creates members who have a voice in the business’s direction.
  • Broad community impact: They benefit and impact their local community as a whole. They often morph into the hub of a neighbourhood, where all types of local groups gather, for example to access broadband or get training in vital life skills.
Find out more about community business here

What is the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund?

Since 2016, the Bright Ideas programme, funded jointly by Power to Change and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has supported 89 nascent community businesses.

In 2019, Power to Change is committing an additional £3.2m over three years to help 150 groups to develop their projects. As before, we’re interested in community groups, associations and organisations who have a good idea for a community business but need advice and a small amount of revenue funding to develop, test and get to the stage of launching their community business.

What is the aim of the Fund?

The Community Business Bright Ideas Fund aims to give community groups the support and tools to start setting up their community business. It will also provide them with the early stage finance to carry out consultations with local people and carry out feasibility studies to develop a community business idea the community wants and needs.

When does the Fund open for applications?

The Community Business Bright Ideas Fund will be open for applications from Tuesday 26 February 2019 until Tuesday 9 April 2019 at

Details are communicated on our website and via email. Sign up to the My Community Network Digest.

What does the Fund offer?

Our aim is to help you explore, test the feasibility, develop a viable model for your idea and take the first practical steps to launch your community business.

  1. Community business development support
    Up to 12 days of business development support from Locality, Plunkett Foundation, or Co-operatives UK. The support will be structured in a way that best meets your needs and could involve working one to one or in group sessions with your leadership team. Topics covered could include:

    • incorporation, legal structures and governance
    • community engagement and accountability
    • business planning
    • financial modelling
    • market research
    • community shares
    • getting ready to trade
    • securing and developing an asset
  2. Grant funding
    The opportunity to apply for a grant of up to £15,000 which can be spent on specific activities to develop your community business idea.
  3. Learning and peer networking
    Access to online resources, thematic webinars and the opportunity to visit and learn from existing community businesses.

What can the grants be spent on?

After an initial meeting to scope out your project, you can apply for a grant. Your business

development adviser will help you develop your grant application, a detailed budget and project plan.

Typically, the grants will not fund:

  • capital costs (such as building purchase, refurbishment costs or equipment purchases)
  • ongoing running costs (salaries, rent, insurance etc.)

The grants will fund:

  • getting established as an organisation (legal fees, registration fees etc.)
  • training
  • knowledge and skills exchanges
  • reasonable fees incurred in developing your community business idea (community engagement, market research, etc.).

These are just examples of what could be funded under Bright Ideas.

I'm a community business consultant/support provider, how can I get involved in the Bright Ideas programme?

The Bright Ideas programme is being delivered by a consortium of delivery partners – led by Locality. The consortium is not recruiting for more delivery partners.

I think I'm going to need some professional help from outside of my organisation to advise me on my community business idea. Where do I start when engaging consultants?

Power to Change have produced the following guide to help you through the process of identifying, selecting and working with consultants to ensure that you get the help that you  need.

How to work with consultants

If our group applies for the Fund, can they apply for Power to Change funding in the future?

Yes, if groups apply to  Bright Ideas , they can still apply to other Power to Change funding programmes. Bright Ideas  is intended to support groups to develop their community business to a point at which they could be eligible for other scale up programmes, including the Community Business Fund.

What questions should I be asking of my application to ensure that I'm eligible?

Ensuring that your application is eligible and meets the requirements of the fund is key. If you ask the following four questions of your application and your answer to all four is YES, you should be eligible to apply.

  1. Is it LOCAL?
  2. Is the organisation run BY local people (not just FOR them)?
  3. Is it going to be a BUSINESS (using trading, not a grant funded project)
  4. Do you want to use a grant to DEVELOP THE BUSINESS IDEA (not use a grant for the revenue costs of the service)?

The application process

I’ve completed the eligibility criteria form, but I haven’t received an application link via email?

Once you have completed and submitted the eligibility criteria form, this will automatically generate an application form overnight.

If this doesn’t arrive in your email inbox within 12 hours, first try searching your inbox for an email from

Secondly, check your junk and spam folders – these are usually folders stored in or under your Inbox folder.

Thirdly, try adding to your ‘safe’ or ‘whitelist’ senders list in your email settings so the email can pass through your spam filter or junk folder (here’s how to do that in Outlook 2013). Some email addresses, such as, tend to automatically filter out unknown addresses, so adding the address to your email address book may also fix the issue.

If none of these options work, please complete another eligibility criteria form, ensuring that your email address is correct and trying with an alternative email address (such as a Gmail or Yahoo account).

If you still have not received it after completing two different email addresses and adding the email address to the safe senders list, please email or call the My Community Help Centre.

My Community Help Centre

When will I receive a response to my application?

We will tell you within 4 – 6 weeks of you submitting your application whether you have been successful or not.

We may also request additional information which may delay a decision.

If you are successful, you will receive an email with confirmation of an appointed adviser who will help you to develop your community business.

If you are not successful, you will receive an email with the reasons why you were not successful. We recommend you look for alternative sources of support on My Community and Power to Change.

When does the Bright Idea Fund close?

The Bright Ideas Fund application will open on 26 February, and close on Tuesday 9 April 2019.

There will be additional funding rounds in:
• August – September 2019,
• February 2020 – April 2020,
• August – September 2020,
• February 2021 – March 2021.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for?

Please email if our FAQs and the guidance notes do not answer your question.