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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 £100,000, maximum £1m; 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: The next closing date for submissions is Friday 29th March at midday

The 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 enables the local charitable sector to be stronger and more sustainable, and therefore better equipped to deal with the hard-hitting social problems faced by Oxfordshire communities.

Step Change also offers a unique proposition to grant applicants, with the support of a volunteer project manager included with every grant. The project manager, usually someone experienced in business strategy or management, will help you to develop a clear and fully costed plan to realise the step change that you desire. They will work alongside you through the duration of your project to support you in hitting targets and milestones. Applicants tell us that the project manager relationship can be hugely supportive and beneficial.

Please note that we currently have an issue with the submission of some application forms. If this is the case, please contact OCF on to confirm your application. 

  • The Step Change Fund’s panel is particularly interested in projects that enable a ‘step change’ in impact or financial terms (or both). Step Change believes that charitable organisations need a well thought through future-oriented strategy to be effective in their use of time and money along with excellent leadership and internal governance.
  • 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 are happy to consider covering relevant elements of core costs in your application.

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 three-stage application process:

  1. Eligibility Questionnaire
    The Step Change eligibility questionnaire is designed to help you assess whether your organisation is eligible for grant funding by the Step Change Fund. Please use this link to access the questionnaire. If you are successful in being considered eligible for funding this will take you to a link to the Expression of Interest form.
  2. Expression of Interest (EoI)
    The Step Change EoI is a short form completed online and submitted by the next deadline date to OCF. 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.
  3. 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.

Dates and timings

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


Closing date (midday) Corresponding grants panel meeting date
Thursday 4th January Thursday 1st February
Friday 29th March Friday 26th April
Further dates tbc


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 GuidanceStep Change panelDonate to Step ChangeProject managers

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

Groups funded by Step Change