Challenge Fund FAQs

Frequently asked questions
Everything you need to know about the Electoral Reform Society's Challenge Fund

Challenge Fund FAQs

Some frequently asked questions about the Electoral Reform Society's Challenge Fund.

If your question is not included in the list below please email us at

1. What is the purpose of the Challenge Fund?

The Challenge Fund provides support and funding to local groups and voluntary organisations campaigning to improve local democracy in the UK.
Challenge Fund projects must be not-for-profit activities which highlight the need for an improved democracy or demonstrate ways that democracy can work better, particularly at a local level.

2. What kind of activity does the Challenge Fund support?

  • Direct campaigns for electoral reform which aim to convince political representatives or the wider public of the need for reform in a local area
  • Campaigns to combat situations when the existing democratic structures and representatives are not responding to local voices, particularly where they are ranged against more powerful and better resourced interests
  • Activity that improves the connectivity and infrastructure of local groups working on democracy issues
  • Campaigns that highlight the shortfalls and weakness of the First Past the Post System

3. What specifically can the Challenge Fund be used to pay for?

This list is merely a very short indication of the type of things the Challenge Fund might be used to pay for:

  • Production of campaign materials i.e. leaflets/posters
  • Web based and social media activity where a financial cost is incurred
  • Room hire for meetings
  • Props and materials for stunts

4. Who is eligible for funding?

We will fund innovative short life campaigns by small groups of activists (un-constituted or constituted) who can demonstrate that their campaign idea will help to stimulate democratic renewal by highlighting the need for an improved democracy or by demonstrating ways that democracy can work better, particularly at a local level.

5. How will the funding be arranged?

If the recipient group is constituted and holds a bank account then we will pay an upfront grant to the group through the bank account. If the group is un-constituted and does not hold a bank account, we will pay an upfront grant to the group via a nominated individual from the group.

6. How much can you apply for?

Each group can apply for up to £500 per campaign idea. Multiple applications by one group within the same funding round are permitted provided that they relate to substantially different projects.

It would be unusual for us to give more than one award to the same group in the same funding round. We would be pleased if our grant was used to attract match funding or put towards a larger project that meets the purposes of this fund. Repeat awards may be given where campaigns are judged to be particularly effective.

7. How do I apply?

You should submit your project or campaign idea

Before you submit your application check out our top tips for Challenge Fund applications.

All successful applicants will be asked to agree to the Challenge Fund Terms & Conditions.

8. What information is required

You will be asked to provide
1) A description of the desired outcome of the activity
2) A summary of the activity - Where? When? How?
3) An explanation of why the funding is needed
4) Details of an identified project lead
5) An explanation of how your campaign will highlight the need for an improved democracy or demonstrate ways that democracy can work better
6) An idea of how you intend to use the local media to highlight your cause
7) A budget showing a breakdown of how you will spend the money

9. When should I apply?

We will accept applications at anytime but grants will be awarded on a quarterly basis. Deadlines for applications for each funding round are as follows:

  • Round 1 – 28th Feb
  • Round 2 – 31st May
  • Round 3 – 31st August
  • Round 4 – 30th November

We will make a decision within one month from the close date of the funding round. For example, if the funding round ends on 31st August, you can expect a decision by 30th September at the latest.

For more information about the process and timings of your Challenge Fund application, download our step-by-step guide to the application process.

10. How will I be monitored?

Before we award the grant most groups will be contacted to discuss their application. This is to assess the viability of your proposal and to establish an ongoing relationship between the Electoral Reform Society and your group. During the project we will ask you to keep a regular blog about your project and your activities. This blog can also include photos, videos and other creative content.

Before you submit your application check out our top tips for Challenge Fund applications to make sure your project has the best chance of being approved.

11. Will my project be evaluated?

At the end of the project we will require a short report on what you have spent the money on and the outcomes of the project; this will also include a financial account including receipts of expenditure.

When you are awarded the grant you will be asked to agree, if required, for someone from your group to attend an Electoral Reform Society event to tell other people about your project. If you are required to attend an event then reasonable expenses will be paid.

12. What support will I receive?

All funded local groups will work with a named contact in the Campaigns and Membership team at the Electoral Reform Society who will be available to offer support and advice on implementing the project.

If your question is not included here please email us at or call us on 020 7928 1622.