FAQs on the Activate Fund

Applications to the Activate Fund are now closed and will reopen in 2022.

What is the purpose of the Activate  Fund?  
The Activate Fund aims to support Churchill Fellows who are delivering projects with the greatest potential to transform people's lives in the UK, whether locally, regionally or nationally. We hope this will help you to activate or accelerate findings from your Fellowship.   

Who can apply?  
The Activate Fund is open to Churchill Fellows from 2010-2019 for the 2021 Activate Fund awards. Recipients must also have completed their Fellows’ Report and had it approved for publication on our website by WCMT staff at least six months before this Fund opens for applications. (This Fund opens on 11 February 2021.)   

What are the  significant  differences between the first and second rounds of the Activate Fund? 
We have increased the maximum amount we will award from £20,000 to £30,000. Applicants can also apply for funding over two years, not just over one. (There is, however, a £20,000 per year cap on funding requests. For example, if you were applying for £30k over two years, then the request may be £20,000 in year one and £10,000 in year two. You would not be able to apply for, say, £25,000 in year one and £5,000 in year two.) We have also made changes to the application process and award criteria. These changes include fewer questions on the application form, a swifter turnaround in our decision-making, external input in assessment, and more information about what we will not fund. We want to make sure that a broader cross-section of our Fellows will get an opportunity to benefit from this Fund and that the process will be quicker for candidates. 

What do you mean by activating or accelerating our findings? 
Potentially we will fund the following activities: research, piloting a project, starting an enterprise, publishing a report or a book, scaling up an enterprise, launching a campaign, producing resources, evaluating a project, prototyping a product or creating an event. We are interested in projects where the Fellow is at the point of activating these activities (not thinking about developing them) or accelerating an existing project. There has to be momentum to suggest that our funding over a relatively short period (12-24 months) will make a tangible difference.

What if I haven’t been directly impacted by the issues  that my project will be addressing? Will I be penalised?  
While we are encouraging applications from those with lived experience of the issues they are tackling, you will not be penalised if you do not have first-hand experience of such issues. However, you will need to demonstrate that you are meaningfully and equitably engaging with the people or communities that your project is working to benefit. 

When you say in the question, ‘provide a brief overview of the harmful circumstances faced by the  people or communities you are addressing’ what do you mean?
We refer to any political, social, economic, environmental, cultural, or technological issues impacting the people or communities you will be working to benefit. We want you to put the harms faced by the people or communities you are working with into a broader context, so we are clear about how your project will meet their needs.

Why is it that only the last decade of  Fellows can apply?  
We only have a limited amount of funding available to support Fellows. We have chosen 2010 as a cut-off point because our surveys indicate that it takes most Fellows between three and five years to start implementing their findings. We are also aware that external funding post-2010 has become increasingly more restricted.   

How soon after returning from travel can I apply for these Funds?  
You must complete your report, and it must be approved for publication on the WCMT website at least six months before this Fund opens for applications. (This Fund opens on 11 February 2021.)      

If I  was  unsuccessful  with my Activate Fund application in 2020, can I apply again?  
Yes, if eligible. To be eligible, you must be a Churchill Fellow from the appropriate years, which advance by one year each year. If you reapply, we will want to see what progress you have made during the time between these applications.   

Is the Fund open to all thematic categories?  
Yes, the 2021 Activate Fund is open to Fellows in all categories. We will use the second round’s learning to inform future iterations of the Fund, which may mean a more thematic approach going forward. 

How does this Fund relate to the travel grant and  the  £500  post-travel  grants?  
The Activate Fund is complementary to these. We are piloting it to see whether it becomes a permanent supplement to the Fellowship. The £500 grant will still be available to post-2016 Fellows for initial dissemination activities.

If I have been awarded a £500 post-travel grant, can I apply to this Fund?  
Yes. We view the £500 grant as an important funding scheme to support Fellows in the initial dissemination of their work. The Activate Fund aims to help Fellows activate or accelerate their work, likely based on those initial dissemination activities.     

If I have applied for funding to the  Covid-19 Action Fund, the  Linbury  Trust, or the Rank Foundation, can I also apply to this  Fund?  
If eligible, you can still apply to the Activate Fund. If you are successful with the Covid-19 Action Fund, the Linbury Trust, or Rank Foundation funding, for example, this will not exclude you from applying for Activate funding in future years.

If I already have funding for my project but need more, can I still apply to the Activate Fund?  
Yes, we welcome bids from Fellows who require match funding for their projects.  

I am worried about how I would measure the impact of my work.  
You can get support from Katie Baldock ([email protected]) around measuring impact. At this stage, we are primarily concerned with clear implementation plans that set out how you will go about achieving your aims. 

I am worried that my work's impact will not be as impressive or as important as others.   
If you would like to discuss further, we can address your concerns. We respect the fact that people’s trajectories will look very different and that people will be at different stages. We will account for this when balancing the potential for impact next to the need for additional funding. We will also be drawing on expert opinion from our Fellows, Advisory Council and potentially external experts to assess applications.   

What will the application process look like?  
The application form will primarily comprise seven questions. You can apply in written or audio format. If shortlisted, you will be invited to discuss your ideas with the Activate Fund Subcommittee during an interview.   

I would like to submit an  audio  application, how best should I do this?  
Audio recordings can be uploaded to the online application form. You will need to respond to all seven questions in the application form and ensure that the audio recording is clear and completed within seven minutes. Audio uploads have a 25mb limit. For audio submissions, we would suggest that you say your name first, then tell us in a sentence what you are seeking funding for. You should then respond to the seven questions. You can submit supplementary information separately online.   

Are collaborative bids from  Fellows welcomed? 
Yes, we welcome bids from Fellows who have decided to work together towards a common goal. A collaboration involving two or more Fellows will be treated as a single bid, with a maximum grant available of £30,000 in total with a £20,000 per year cap. Please note, Fellows applying within a collaboration will not be eligible for separate Activate Fund awards as individuals.

If I want to find out more about the Fund, who can I talk to?  
We welcome applications from all eligible Fellows. If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Katie Baldock, who is managing the Fund. You can contact her at [email protected]. We will also be hosting an online webinar where you can ask any questions: this will be held on 2 March at 12pm and you can register for it here.

Download a PDF of applicants' guidelines