Empower Programmes 2024
Programme Opens Closes Charities advised of outcome by
Empower End of May 2024

Eligibility Guidelines

Bank of Scotland Foundation recognises the profound impact that the cost of living crisis is having on people across Scotland.  To ensure our funding can reach those in real need, the Empower grants programme for 2024 will solely focus on helping charities who support vulnerable groups/people.

Our Empower programme provides unrestricted funding. Unrestricted funding gives charities much greater scope to cover all essential costs and deal with challenges quickly and effectively.  Unrestricted funding can be used towards core costs, delivery costs, project costs and/or general running costs enabling charities to use their funding in the way that helps them best.  

Through our Empower programme we’ll also be collaborating with Lloyds Banking Group to identify opportunities to add value for funded charities.  Through strategic development support and colleague volunteers, we aim to help charities grow stronger and thrive beyond the lifetime of their grant.  


To be eligible for this programme:

  • Your charity must support vulnerable groups.
  • Your charity must also be registered in Scotland with a charity number beginning SC0.
  • your charity must have a minimum of 3 years accounts lodged and checked at OSCR.    (Please note these 3 years accounts must be for the charity number on the Empower grant application). 
  • Your records at OSCR (and Companies House if applicable) must not be overdue.
  • Your OSCR record must say “it carries out activities or services itself” for the types of activity undertaken.
  • your charity income must be between £150k - £500k per year as stated in your most recent accounts that have been lodged and checked at OSCR. (If your charity income is out with these amounts then it is not eligible for this programme and the application cannot be progressed.)
  • your charity must operate in Scotland.  

 You CANNOT APPLY if your charity’s sole purpose on OSCR is listed as being: - 

  • the advancement of animal welfare 
  • the advancement of religion

You CANNOT APPLY if your charity’s sole type of activity undertaken on OSCR is listed as being: - 

  • it makes grants, donations, or gifts to organisations

You CANNOT APPLY if your charity is a political organisation. 

Application process

Stage One

Our application process is simple and straightforward.  You’ll be asked to provide information about your charity such as contact details and highlight other recent funding applications. 

Whilst our funding is unrestricted, you will be asked to provide a broad indication of what our funding may be used for such as overheads, project costs or salaries.  However, rest assured, whilst we welcome an indication, we will not insist that you use our funding in this way, as it is to be used in the way that helps your charity best.  (The only exceptions are that our funding may not be used for project costs or overheads incurred before the grant application is received, any costs not related to delivering outcomes such as a contribution to reserves and notional costs that will never be incurred e.g., rent free premises.)

At this stage of the process, we also ask you to let us know:

What your charity does, the difference your charity makes to vulnerable people, why you need unrestricted funding and any other information that may support your application. 

This information should be provided on a MAXIMUM of one A4 page and no more than 500 words.

Stage Two

Using the information provided in Stage One, applications will be assessed by one of our Grants Managers who may contact applicants to gather further information.

Stage Three

When the Grant Managers have made their recommendations, they have a detailed review and challenge session with the Chief Executive.

Stage Four

All decisions are presented to the Board of Trustees who have final approval. 

Online application 

To apply you must submit an online application.  

You must ensure as part of your application that you upload the following three documents:

  • A maximum of one A4 page and no more than 500 words, as outlined above.
  • Your most recent signed Annual Accounts (including Independent Examiner’s Report) which have been lodged and checked at OSCR. 
  • Your charity’s constitution or Memorandum and Articles of Association. 

Closing date

All applications must be submitted online by 12 noon on the closing date of Thursday 15th February 2024.  The online application system will automatically close at 12 noon and the Foundation team will be unable to accept applications after this deadline. 

If unsure of your eligibility please contact the Foundation team at enquiries@bankofscotlandfoundation.co.uk 

Decision Making Process

Every application we receive is unique however our approach during the assessment period is consistent  - whether you are applying for £1.5k or £150k. 

Our overarching aim is to fund, support and champion charities that are making a difference with vulnerable people and improving their quality of life.

Initial Checks

All applications are checked to ensure that they meet our eligibility criteria and all supporting documentation has been uploaded.  Details can be found here


If an application meets our initial checks, it will be assessed by one of our Grant Managers who will consider:

  • The purpose of your charity (why you do what you do) and the vulnerabilities of the people you support
  • Your activities and the difference your charity makes to the lives of the people you support 
  • Why you need funding and (if applicable) what unrestricted funding will help you to do?  
  • Your financial position – your current sources of income, your funding gap/need for funding, your unrestricted reserves

Our Grant Managers assess each application on a stand-alone basis.

Further Information

We may contact applicants to gather further information if needed.


When the Grant Managers have made their recommendations, they have a detailed review and challenge session with the Chief Executive.


All decisions are presented to the Board of Trustees who have final approval. 


All applicants are informed of their decision and advised of next steps.  Where an application is declined, we can offer feedback calls to explain the reasons why.