Coronavirus pandemic – fast track applications

for research, policy and campaigning work


As with many individuals and organisations we are thinking about how we can respond to and best use the resources we have. It goes without saying that this is a challenging period which raises many difficulties. The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing the way we live and work and the consequences will be far-reaching, especially for those with the least resources. Although we are all affected, we are not all affected equally.

At Standard Life Foundation we have been considering how we can best meet our mission of tackling financial problems and improving living standards. We have been talking to organisations working in the field, other funders and key stakeholders and following the rapid development of the pandemic.

Whilst coronavirus has raised significant challenges, we have also been struck by the wide range of solutions, many of which would have been considered too ambitious before now. These have been far reaching such as the Government’s job retention scheme (paying 80% of the salary of workers laid off), changes to social security benefits, as well as the growth of grass roots mutual aid community groups and the 500,000 who have signed up to become NHS volunteers. These are very welcome measures, which will make a difference, but there is more we need to do. The pandemic is having an immediate impact and we all need to work together.

As a first step we published a statement of support to groups we are currently funding, outlining our flexible approach to existing work we are supporting. We have had conversations with many of our partners as to how we take the work forwards and how their projects may need to adapt and respond to the pandemic.

We are also continuing our assessment process of all current funding applications. However, we are mindful that applicants may wish to reconsider their proposals in light of coronavirus and are encouraging them to adjust as necessary.

Today we are pleased to announce that we will be making funding available for work directly related to the pandemic, addressing specific challenges and helping to contribute to social change which tackles financial problems and improves living standards for those on low-to-middle incomes in the UK. More detail about our approach and the types of activities we fund are outlined in more detail in our funding guidelines. Please do read this document as this provides greater detail about our funding programmes, as outlined below.


We will fund a range of strategic work. This is work that benefits more than individuals and has the potential to benefit large numbers of people within the UK. This work must aim to create a step change in policy, practice, attitudes and/or behaviour. It includes policy work, campaigning, research, public attitudinal work, and improving practice and design.

The work we might consider in relation to the pandemic is rapid analysis of key issues, for example, self-employed workers, the food and hospitality or social care sectors. Modelling of new proposals such as enhanced sick pay, help with utilities, high cost credit payments, and changes to pensions. There may also be a role for recording impacts on low-to-middle income groups so this can be utilised now as well as later on to improve this group’s ability to weather financial shocks. We will also consider specific advocacy and policy work on a range of issues related to income, spending and assets. These are just some examples and we know that organisations will have many ideas of their own.

This is a rapidly changing landscape, and therefore projects will need to be timely and adapt. This new funding stream will be a fast track process for projects responding to the pandemic that can be started in the next few weeks. Organisations applying will need to be mindful of the activities and processes they will utilise, for example the inability to undertake face-to-face work.

Projects funded may last only a few weeks or months but some may be longer. Grants will range from £5,000 to larger amounts.

Organisations we are already funding can apply, as can organisations we are already considering for our current funding round. The call is also open to organisations we have rejected in the past, including our last funding round.

There is no fixed deadline at this point, but we will close this open call when we have funded a number of projects which we believe can make a difference.

Applicants should submit a one page document outlining their idea (and if the proposal is for research, some detail on your methodology). This should be submitted to:

If the application is one we wish to take forward, we will be in touch requesting more detail. Due to resource limitations we will not be able to provide any feedback on applications we do not take forward as part of this fast track process. There is likely to be high demand, so there will be some good ideas which we sadly won’t be able to support. However, there are a range of other funding opportunities which have become available to address issues relating to the pandemic.

In addition to this fast track call for applications, our usual funding round in June will go ahead. We are encouraging applications to address the significant social challenges arising as a result of the pandemic, thinking of medium and longer term solutions.

We are also looking at other ways we can address the many issues arising in these unprecedented times and will be communicating these through our website, as well as our newsletter. Please sign up here to receive the newsletter.