Nature Heals Seed Fund

We are pleased to be working with Dorset High Sheriff for 2022/23 Sibyl Fine King to offer small grants to community groups using the benefits of the natural world to improve the lives of local people

Nature Heals Seed Fund

This Fund is currently CLOSED for application. We are awaiting confirmation whether further rounds will be available in 2023



Groups must be local to Dorset. We do not fund national charities but can fund local branches if they are managed separately and financially independent.

The fund will prioritise smaller community groups, therefore, applications made by groups with annual expenditure over £250,000 will not usually be considered by the panel, unless it is clear why a small grant is needed to seed fund a new initiative.

Organisations that can apply:

  • Registered Charities
  • Constituted Community and Voluntary Organisations
  • Community Interest Companies limited by guarantee
  • Companies limited by guarantee that have a clear not-for-profit clause in their governing document and clear charitable or social objectives

To be eligible the organisation must have:

  • At least 3 unrelated people responsible for running the organisation (for registered charities these are your Trustees, for CICs/Social Enterprises these are your Directors)
  • A written constitution or set of rules that sets out the purpose and management of the organisation
  • A bank account in the name of the organisation with at least two unrelated signatories required for payments
  • An appropriate Safeguarding Policy and EDI policy


  • Schools are not eligible but we can fund PTA groups if they meet our eligibility guidelines
  • We cannot fund the promotion of religion or political causes – faith based organisations should advise whether funded activities are designed to, or include elements that are designed to influence people’s religious choices
  • We cannot fund public bodies to carry out their statutory obligations
  • We cannot fund animal welfare organisations
  • We cannot offer retrospective funding for items already purchased or work completed
  • Organisations with more than 12 months’ unrestricted reserves are usually not funded


The Nature Heals Seed Fund offers small grants of up to £1,000 and is therefore designed for small, local groups running low cost community activities. It is particularly relevant for groups wanting to try out a new idea – we are happy to take risks and support new initiatives so this is your chance to try something different. However, we can also fund existing small scale activities that meet fund priorities and are in need funding to continue or develop.

We are interested in funding a wide range of small scale projects/activities that use the natural world and connection with nature to benefit local people or to enhance services and activities for local people. Projects will support local people to interact with the natural world in order to effect positive change and bring tangible improvements to their quality of life. We are not prescriptive about how this is done or who projects might aim to support but examples might include: activities aiming to improve health & wellbeing, reduce isolation, enhance community cohesion, address a particular local issue, or to support a group of beneficiaries with shared experiences and specific needs.

The Fund welcomes applications for activities aiming to support offenders and ex-offenders, and early interventions to prevent criminal behaviour, including youth work to reduce anti-social behaviour.

What can I apply for?

Grants of up to £1,000 are available.

The funded activities must start within two months of the award and groups have up to 12 months to spend the grant, although some may choose to run shorter projects.

We will fund any costs relating to the work you deliver including activity costs, volunteer costs, core costs or overheads, and small items of equipment or perishables (e.g. a laptop, tools or refreshments). We can also fund items or expenses that may be needed in relation to specific participants, in order to improve the inclusivity of your activity, such as equipment that may be needed for participants with mobility issues or travel costs for low income households.

Monitoring and reporting

All groups must complete a short evaluation report at the end of the 12 month grant period or when funds have been fully spent. This will include any challenges and learning during the grant period, and evidence of the outcomes of funded activities. (Outcomes are positive changes in the lives of people engaging in your activities). Groups may wish to also submit a video report, which is welcomed.

Successful applicants will be offered an opportunity to receive training & support to help you understand how you can monitor the impact and outcomes of your activities, developing a model that works for you during the grant period. This may also be helpful for other projects your organisation delivers and future funding applications.

Pre-application support

Pre-application support is particularly encouraged for groups who have not applied to our grant programmes before but is available for anyone in need of advice about the application process, or if you are unsure whether your project/activity is suitable. Please email our Grants Manager to arrange a 20 minute phone call.

Please also contact us if you need the application form in an alternative format.

How to Apply

This fund is currently CLOSED for applications

Applicants are welcome to call Grants Manager Ellie Maguire on 07592 032666 for pre application support – this may be particularly helpful for groups who have not applied to our funding programmes before or have an idea for a new project.

PLEASE NOTE: Groups can submit a short video application (between five and ten minutes) as an alternative way to describe their project or activity. They should still submit the online form to provide organisation details but can enter ‘see video’ in response to remaining questions. We recommend sending video applications by email using WeTransfer, which is a free platform for sending larger files. Please contact us for advice.

We aim to inform applicants of the outcome of their application and distribute grants to successful applicants, within 8 weeks.

You will need to attach the following supporting documents to your online application, or send them via email to

  • A copy of your constitution/governing document, if not registered at Companies House or the Charities Commission
  • A copy of a recent bank statement no more than 3 months old
  • A copy of your latest annual accounts, or in the case of new groups, please send a financial forecast or budget for your first year if you have one
  • Your Safeguarding policy and Equality & Diversity policy *our guidance notes may be helpful
  • (CICs operating more than 1 year should also provide their CIC 34 report, and those with micro accounts only should provide their Trading profit and loss accounts)
  • We invite you to send a few photos which may help the panel to further understand your application – not a requirement

Apart from the bank statement, you do not have to send these if you have already sent these documents in the last six months.


* For support with policy development or reviews we recommend you contact one of the local support agencies for voluntary sector groups – Community Action Network offers free support to groups across the county of Dorset, and low cost training & events. Dorset Community Action  provides support to groups in the Dorset Council area.

Safeguarding policy – there are helpful online resources such as the Charity Commission’s guidance on Safeguarding and the NSPCC website. New groups or those without any current policy may find it helpful to watch this short video ‘Safeguarding adults in the voluntary sector’  introducing what Safeguarding is and why it is relevant for all voluntary sector groups, no matter how small or who you are working with.

We also recommend groups consider adding their details to the helpandkindness website, which provides a map of services in Dorset to help people find local support when they need it.

Equality & Diversity policy – we recommend this should include as a minimum: reference to the Equality Act 2010 and explicitly covering all protected characteristics, equal access to services & employment and ways you achieve this, preventing harassment or discrimination and how complaints are dealt with fairly.

In order for us to follow our decision-making process, the information given in your application will be shared with our independent panel members and/or donors as appropriate. Panel members are subject to a confidentiality agreement. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information on data sharing and storage.

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