• Is my idea fundable?

    We will consider any application as long as your project helps people in disadvantaged communities to learn new skills that will enable them to become self-employed, set up their own business, grow their business or become financially capable.

    We also consider the regional priorities of each area – click on the regional priorities map to find out what they are in your area.

    As a general guide, we’ve funded projects that offer training, support, qualifications, work placements, employment, self-employment, career guidance and enterprise opportunities. For example (and this is not an exhaustive list), projects in the past have targeted women with low literacy and numeracy and no work experience, the homeless, unemployed people, disadvantaged young people, women in rural areas, students about to leave school, ex-offenders and those with a history of addiction. The projects we support are as diverse as the people they help. 

  • Can my organisation apply?

    You can apply if:

    • you are a not-for-profit organisation or an eligible state funded education body e.g. charity, social enterprise, community group, school, college.
    • you are based in either the UK or Republic of Ireland.
    • you can demonstrate experience of working in and/or with disadvantaged communities.
    • you are able to demonstrate experience in measuring the impact of your projects.
    • your organisation has a turnover of less than £10 million as shown in your most recent set of accounts or is a state-funded school or college.
    • your organisation has traded for at least 2 years. (Not applicable to schools/colleges).
  • How much can I apply for?

    Grants up to a maximum of £35,000 can be applied for, but you cannot apply for a grant higher than 20% of your turnover. 

  • What counts as turnover?

    Total combined turnover as stated in your last full year of your most recent set of company accounts. Your application will be rejected if you request a grant of more than 20% of the combined total.

  • Are schools eligible?

    Yes, state-funded schools are eligible to apply.
  • I am a school, which governing documents do I need to upload?

    You only need to upload your project budget and school logo.

  • My organisation has been going for years, but only officially constituted recently, are we eligible?

    No. We need to see the track record of your organisation.


  • I have been assigned to a different region than expected, why is this?

    In the bank we have our own definition of regions, for example some areas of London are considered South East rather than London. You will be asked for your postcode during the application process. If you provide the postcode of the area the work or project is being undertaken in, this will ensure the correct region is selected.

  • Do you fund staff costs?

    Yes. Costs should be relevant and proportional to the project.

  • How long will you fund the project for?

    The grant can cover a project lasting up to 18 months.

  • Can I apply to multiple regions?

    No. If you do there is no guarantee the strongest application is the one that will be selected.

  • What constitutes previous RBS funding?

    The Inspiring Enterprise Fund, The Ulster Bank Community Impact Fund, the Skills & Opportunities Fund or a RBS Community Grant, which was over £10,000.

  • Do we need to secure match funding or can we apply for the full amount of money we need to run the project?

    You can apply for the full amount, however, both match funding and in-kind funding strengthen an application. Applications which have the match funding secured will score higher than those that don’t. Applications which have higher percentages of match or in-kind funding (more than 20%) will score higher.

  • Do you fund projects outside the UK or Ireland?

    No. This is part of our commitment to becoming a UK-focused bank.

  • What can I use the money for – can I use it to fund our new building?

    No more than 25% can be spent on capital costs. Capital costs are fixed one time expenses incurred on the purchase of land, building, construction and equipment.

  • Does my project need to meet the regional priorities?

    Yes. The regional priorities can be found on the home page.

  • I am a university, can I apply?

    No. However, partner non-for-profit organisations you work with could make an application as the lead applicant.

  • When does the next round of funding open?

    Round 1 2017 will open in February. We can keep you up to date if you register here.

  • I didn't receive an email with my password details, why?

    It may have gone in to your spam or junk folder or it may be that your organisation’s security policy has filtered it out. If you still can’t find the email you can get in touch with PNE on 0191 438 7999 or email SOFapply@pne.org.

  • Why did the system not allow me to upload my logo?

    Logos have to be image files. These can be identified by their file extension – JPG, PNG or GIF. Word and PDF documents can’t be accepted. If the image is within Word or PDF, please use the Windows snipping tool to copy and save the image.

  • If I am unsuccessful can I apply again?

    Yes. You will receive feedback on your submission, which you can incorporate into your next application. Also keep an eye on the regional priorities, these change and may be more fitting with your application in a further round.

  • I've not got time to submit my application, can I apply outside of the application window?

    No. There will be 2 cycles per year – you can apply next time.

  • How does the public vote work?

    Members of the public can vote once in each region for different organisations. The public vote will be taken into account by the regional board.

  • I don't have a copy of my application

    This should have been emailed out to you. It will be titled Skills and Opportunities Fund – Application Submission. Check it’s not in your spam or junk folders or that your organisation’s security policy hasn’t filtered it out. You can also access this on the application portal. Log on to this and enter your email and password. The tab on the left-hand side is the Applicant area – click on this for a list of previous applications. Your application will be there.