Bright Ideas Fund

Frequently asked questions for the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund.

What is a 'community business'?

Communities come together and set up community businesses to address challenges they face together.

There are many types of community business. They can be shops, farms, pubs or call centres. What they all have in common is that they are accountable to their community and that the profits they generate deliver positive local impact.

Power to Change is an independent charitable trust set up with a £150 million endowment from Big Lottery Fund. Our role is to support community businesses to create better places across England over the next ten years.

The four key features of a community business are:

  • Locally rooted: They are rooted in a particular geographical place and respond to its needs. For example, that could be high levels of urban deprivation or rural isolation.
  • Trading for the benefit of the local community: They are businesses. Their income comes from things like renting out space in their buildings, trading as cafes, selling produce they grow or generating energy.
  • Accountable to the local community: They are accountable to local people, for example through a community shares offer that creates members who have a voice in the business’s direction.
  • Broad community impact: They benefit and impact their local community as a whole. They often morph into the hub of a neighbourhood, where all types of local groups gather, for example to access broadband or get training in vital life skills.
Find out more about community business here

What is the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund?

The £1.85 million Community Business Bright Ideas Fund will offer around 80 community groups, who work in England, up to 15 days of tailored support and grants of up to £20,000 to develop their budding community business ideas.

Jointly funded by Power to Change and the Department for Communities and Local Government, the two-year programme will be delivered by a consortium including Co-operatives UK, Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK, led by Locality.

What is the aim of the Fund?

The Community Business Bright Ideas Fund aims to give community groups the support and tools to start setting up their community business. It will also provide them with the early stage finance to carry out consultations with local people and the opportunity forfeasibility studies to develop a community business idea the community wants and needs.

When does the Fund open for applications?

The last round of the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund open in late 2017. Further details will be communicated on our website and via email (sign up to the My Community Network Digest emails here).


What does the Fund offer?

As well as grants of up to £20,000 to develop your community business idea (we envisage average awards to be around £14,000 per organisation), we will offer a programme of support including:

  • Online induction and ongoing support either online, by phone or where possible through visits
  • Community Business development plans to help successful groups shape and develop strategies and plans for their community business
  • Mentoring and visits to inspire applicants and give them the opportunity to learn from peers
  • Regional networking and events to learn from social finance experts, successful community business leaders, funders and technical specialists.

What can the grants be spent on?

Once accepted onto the programme, and after receiving business development support, you can apply for a grant, appropriate for your development stage. A business development adviser will work with you to help develop your grant application and a detailed budget and project plan.

Typically, these grants will not fund:

  • capital costs (such as building purchase, refurbishment costs or equipment purchases)
  • ongoing running costs (salaries, rent, insurance etc.)

These grants will fund:

  • getting established as an organisation (legal fees, registration fees etc.)
  • training
  • knowledge and skills exchanges
  • reasonable fees incurred in developing your community business idea (community engagement, market research, etc.).

These are just examples of what could be funded under the Bright Ideas Fund.

Once successful, your business development adviser will assist with this process.

Who can apply to the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund?

Maybe you have a local community asset that you’ve saved but don’t know what it could be turned into? Or a community business idea that you don’t know how to get off the ground? If you are a community group or organisation who would like to set up a community business but need a bit of support, then this fund is for you.

I'm a community business support provider, how can I get more involved in the Bright Ideas programme?

The Bright Ideas programme is being delivered by a consortium of delivery partners – led by Locality. The consortium is not recruiting for more delivery partners.

However, Bright Ideas organisations who receive a grant can commission any support provider of their choice to undertake activity, within or outside of the Bright Ideas partnership. Power to Change operates a ‘marketplace’ for new providers. Please email to find out more about how to get involved.

I think I'm going to need some professional help from outside of my organisation to advise me on my community business idea. Where do I start when engaging consultants?

Power to Change have produced the following guide to help you through the process of identifying, selecting and working with consultants to ensure that you get the help that you want.

How to work with consultants

If our group applies for the Fund, can they apply for Power to Change funding in the future?

If groups apply to the Bright Ideas Fund, they can still apply to other Power to Change programmes. The Fund is intended to support groups to develop their community business to a point at which they could be eligible for other scale up programmes, including our Community Business Fund.

What questions should I be asking of my application to ensure that I'm eligible?

Ensuring that your application is eligible and meets the requirements of the fund is key. If you ask the following four questions of your application and your answer to all four is YES, you should be eligible to apply.

  1. Is it LOCAL?
  2. Is the organisation run BY local people (not just FOR them)?
  3. Is it going to be a BUSINESS (using trading, not a grant funded project)
  4. Do you want to use a grant to DEVELOP THE BUSINESS IDEA (not use a grant for the revenue costs of the service)?

The application process

I’ve completed the Eligibility Criteria form, but haven’t received an application link via email?

Once you have completed and submitted the eligibility criteria form, this will automatically generate an application form overnight.

If this doesn’t arrive in your email inbox within 12 hours, first try searching your inbox for an email from

Secondly, check your junk and spam folders – these are usually folders stored in or under your Inbox folder.

Thirdly, try adding to your ‘safe’ or ‘whitelist’ senders list in your email settings so the email can pass through your spam filter or junk folder (here’s how to do that in Outlook 2013). Some email addresses, such as, tend to automatically filter out unknown addresses, so adding the address to your email address book may also fix the issue.

If none of these options work, please complete another Eligibility Criteria form, ensuring that your email address is correct and trying with an alternative email address (such as a Gmail or Yahoo account).

If you still have not received it after completing two different email addresses and adding the email address to the safe senders list, please email or call the My Community Help Centre.

My Community Help Centre

When will I receive a response to my application?

We will tell you within 4 – 6 weeks of you submitting your application whether you have been successful or not.

We may also request additional information which may delay a decision.

If you are successful, you will receive an email with an appointed adviser who will help you develop a plan.

If you are not successful, you will receive an email with the reasons why you were not successful. We recommend you look for alternative sources of support on My Community and Power to Change.

When does the Bright Idea Fund close?

The Bright Ideas Fund rounds are as follows:

  • Late 2017: Third window opens

You must have submitted your application by 1700hrs on the specified day.