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Step Change Fund

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

Amounts available: £10,000–£50,000 in the first instance, with the possibility of further funding up to £25,000 for follow-on projects

Group annual income: Minimum £75,000, maximum £750,000; 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

Type of cost: Mergers, systems/premises upgrades, training, marketing or research

Timescales: Spending can be planned over a year or more

Next closing date: 26th January 2018 at midday

Our Step Change Fund is for charities with visionary leadership that realise they need to transform the way they are organised in order to create a more solid basis for delivering their core work. The Step Change Fund is our investment in the sector that will enable it to be stronger and more sustainable, and therefore better equipped to deal with the hard-hitting social problems OCF wants to address.

If you are looking for smaller grants, please apply to our Small and Vital Programme (up to £1,500) or our Delivering Impact Programme (up to £5,000). If you need larger investment in beneficiary work rather than internal infrastructure, please see our new Ambition Programme.

  • We are particularly interested in projects that enable a ‘step change’ in financial terms. We believe that charitable organisations need excellent internal governance and a well thought through strategy to be effective in their use of time and money.
  • 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. We therefore ask you to have a charity health check, and demonstrate your seriousness through a comprehensive business plan.

Before you consider applying to the Step Change Fund, you must download and read the full application guidance at the bottom of this page. You should then contact OCF to discuss your potential Step Change project before applying.

The Step Change Fund has a two-stage application process:

  1. Expression of Interest (EoI) and health check
    The Step Change EoI is a short form completed in MS Word and submitted by the next deadline date to OCF, along with a health check prepared by OCVA. A copy of the form is downloadable below for reference, and details about the health check are in the full application guidance.
  2. Detailed Bid
    A dedicated Step Change panel will meet and assess all applications. If your EoI is approved by the panel, you will be allocated a project manager and invited to present a Detailed Bid at the next panel. A copy of the Detailed Bid form is downloadable below for reference.

If your Detailed Bid is approved, your project manager will work closely with you for the duration of your project, ensuring you complete the agreed milestones and reporting back to the panel.


By the closing dates below, you should have submitted your Expression of Interest Form (with the OCVA health check), or if you have already been given permission to proceed, your Detailed Bid Form.


Closing date Corresponding grants panel meeting date
Friday 26th January 2018 Friday 9th February 2018
Friday 6th April 2018 Friday 20th April 2018
Friday 8th June 2018 Friday 22nd June 2018
Thursday 23rd August 2018 Friday 7th September 2018
Friday 9th November 2018 Friday 23rd November 2018


Please note that the meeting dates are subject to change, and it will not be possible to provide any update on the progress of your application until after the panel has met.

Application guidanceExpression of interestGrants overviewAmbitionContact us
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