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Step Change Fund

The Step Change Fund focuses on capacity building and strengthening of Oxfordshire’s charitable sector.

The Step Change Fund aims to help high-quality social organisations make a step change to their business model that will create a more solid platform from which they can deliver services. The fund holders are particularly interested in projects that enable a ‘step change’ in financial terms.

This fund does not offer core funding simply for the continuance of existing services. Grants will be given for projects that can demonstrate realistic plans for increasing reach and impact and for building longer-term resilience for the future.

The fund has over £1 million to distribute over the next four years. Grants in the first instance will be between £10,000 and £50,000, with the possibility of further funding up to £25,000 for follow-on projects. Total grants will be capped at £75,000 and will not normally be greater than 30% of the applicant’s annual income, should this be less.

Step Change has grown out of the Future-Building Fund, which launched as a pilot programme in May 2014 and was successfully completed in April 2016. The lessons learnt from the pilot have shaped Step Change’s focus and methodology.

Download the Future-Building Fund Year Two Review

Who can apply?

The Step Change Fund accepts applications from registered charities that:

  • Are based in Oxfordshire and operate primarily within the county
  • Are focused on enhancing the quality of people’s lives
  • Have an annual income of not less than £75,000 and not more than £400,000
  • Have been operating for three years or more
  • Have outstanding leadership and the capacity to grow
Projects that will be considered

The following table gives an overview of the types of initiative the Step Change Fund grants panel is especially interested in.

Category 1: Management Category 2: Office environment Category 3: Fundraising and marketing
Accreditation Computer hardware Campaign planning
Accounting Computer software Grant programmes
HR policy Telecommunications Feedback and analysis
Emergency bridging finance Systems implementation Donor relationships
Needs and outcomes analysis Premises upgrade Web design
Mergers and partnerships Staff training Branding
Strategic planning Bid writing


If none of the categories above cover what you want to do, your project may still be eligible. Please give your own description as part of your application.


Grants will not be awarded to support:

  • Statutory organisations, including schools
  • Activities outside Oxfordshire
  • Buses, mini buses or other community transport schemes
  • Building costs, including access adaptations to buildings, except where these are essential to delivering the proposed step change
  • Activities that are the statutory duty of the government or local authority

Applicants should look at the Step Change Fund Terms of Reference before submitting Expressions of Interest, so that they understand the fund’s rationale, the kinds of projects that are more likely to be successful, and some of the reasons for rejection.

If your project is of a different type, another grant option may be more suitable. Please have a look at our grants overview page to help you decide.

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