The Fresh Ideas Fund

The Fresh Ideas Fund is a grant programme developed and funded by Northern Rock Foundation to enable voluntary, community and social enterprises in the North East of England to explore opportunities to develop new earned income streams in order to improve long term sustainability. It may also help them increase their impact and grow in size.

As part of their legacy, Northern Rock Foundation awarded £3m to the Northstar Foundation to continue the Fresh Ideas Fund until the end of 2017. The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland is managing the Fresh Ideas Fund on behalf of The Northstar Foundation.

What will the Fresh Ideas Fund support?

The Fresh Ideas Fund is looking for ideas that will help organisations explore new ways of generating income and, by doing so, achieve greater sustainability.

They may have plans to develop new social enterprises, support more beneficiaries to increase revenue, spread their work into their neighbouring town, or work with completely new clients.  Or they might want to take on a new asset or build a partnership with a like-minded charity in order to explore opportunities to generate additional income.  With the Fresh Ideas Fund’s support they will be able to take these ideas to the next stage.

How big are the grants?

The fund will provide organisations with grants of up to £40,000 to establish whether their ideas are feasible, to pay for expert advice and to cover start-up costs.  The aim is to help them to produce the evidence they need to secure the support and investment to make their ideas happen.

Successful applicants will receive expert help and guidance from Northstar Ventures to ensure their proposals are tested thoroughly.

Who can apply

The Fresh Ideas Fund is open to:

working in the areas of:

Whilst there are no restrictions on the size or turnover of an applicant organisation it is expected that they will have the capacity to deliver the proposed projects. Please see the case studies as a guide.

The fund is not open to applications for core grant funding that does not have a transformational impact on the organisation, mainstream educational activity; hospitals; places of worship and organisations seeking funds for the promotion of religion; natural environment and conservation; animal welfare; national or non-north east based organisations which do not have a regional office or other representation in the North East; co-operatives, unincorporated organisations, or groups; individuals or partnerships.

Previous recipients of Fresh Ideas Fund grants may apply for new activity but if demand is high priority may be given to those organisations who have not received funding before.

For the avoidance of doubt North East shall include Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear and the Tees Valley area (to include Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington and Stockton on Tees unitary authority areas).


Fresh ideas is a three stage process over a period of months so you will need to factor in the time frame when submitting your initial application.

You can download the application form here

The timings for Fresh Ideas in 2017 are as follows:

Stage One

6 Feb – Stage One round applications open

3 Apr – Deadline for submission of first round applications.

We aim to inform applicants by 2 May if they have been put through to stage two.

Stage Two

30 June – Deadline to submit business plans.

We aim to inform applicants by 28 July if they have been put through to the final round.

Stage three

The final round will involve presenting their project to a panel in late September. (date to be confirmed)