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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

Closing date: Thursday 13th January 2022 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.

  • 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. Please contact the grants team on 01865 798666 or for a copy of this form. Details about the health check are in the full application guidance. If you are already in receipt of a Step Change grant and wish to apply again please contact the grants team. Your project must have concluded and an End of Grant report submitted before a further EoI will be considered.
  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. Please note that due to COVID-19 all detailed bid presentations must be submitted at least a week in advance and must be recorded on Zoom.

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.

Dates and timings

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 (midday) Corresponding grants panel meeting date
Thursday 16th September Friday 22nd October



Closing date (midday) Corresponding grants panel meeting date
Thursday 13th January Thursday 10th February
Thursday 7th April Thursday 5th May
Thursday 4th August Thursday 1st September
Thursday 27th October Thursday 24th November


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 GuidanceGrants overviewContact us

Video: Martin Wilkinson explains what the panel of the Step Change Fund looks for in funding applications at a Charity Mentors event.

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