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Funding for Community Projects in Ireland and Northern Ireland

Funding for community projects featured image
There are countless sources of funding for community projects across the island of Ireland. Image credit: Micheile Henderson

Seeking funding for community projects is always a challenge. Often, external funding is what keeps the lights on for community groups. While volunteers and the local community may be able to raise some funding themselves through various fundraising initatives, community groups still largely rely on grants from external sources. These include government agencies, philanthropic organisations, corporations and even other non-profits.

We know that the number of grants and funding opportunities out there can seem overwhelming, especially to small community groups. With that in mind, here are some of the major sources of funding for community projects on the island of Ireland.

Funding for Community Projects in Northern Ireland

Community groups in Northern Ireland have a wide range of funding opportunities open to them. These range from local bodies and government grants, to major international donors, with a wide variety of funding packages available.

These funding opportunities can be open to all kinds of community projects, such as local sports teams, environmental groups, education projects and mental health advocacy. Of course, there are also many funding streams for projects relating to inclusion and community building.

Here are some of the major funders of community projects across Northern Ireland.


Over the last decades, many of Northern Ireland’s best known community projects have received funding from the European Union. This includes successive iterations of the PEACE project, which have sought to encourage good relations.

The most recent of these was dubbed PEACE IV, and was aimed at building relations through shared services and spaces, especially for young people.

Although PEACE IV ended in 2020, some opportunities may still be available to participate in existing projects, through delivery agents, like local councils in Northern Ireland.

Currently in the consultation stage, the PEACE PLUS program will build on this work, with the aims of promoting economic and environmental development, and peace and reconciliation.

Approximately €1 billion will be available over the project’s six year life span, with the first funding calls for local community groups opening in late 2021 and early 2022.

Additionally, ongoing funding for community projects is available from the European Structural and Investment Funds, on a project by project basis.

EU Peace plus funding for community projects infographic
PEACE PLUS will be a major source of funding in coming years. Image credit: European Commission

The Community Foundation Northern Ireland

The Community Foundation Northern Ireland is an independent charitable organisation, offering funding for a range of community projects. Their goal is to provide funding for grassroots projects, seeking to overcome issues at the heart of local communities.

The Foundation operates a number of funds, giving grants to projects which deal with issues relating to:

  • Peacebuilding,

  • Children and young people,

  • Older people,

  • Women,

  • Minorities,

  • Skills and training,

  • Disadvantaged communities,

  • Shared culture and heritage.

Northern Ireland Executive Funding

The Northern Ireland Executive are also major funders of local community groups. These largely stem from the Departments for Finance and Communities. Naturally, these typically relate to projects dealing with community issues, education and skills.

The Executive often also partners with external agencies to secure and deliver funding for community projects.

Opportunities are available throughout the year. For advice on how to find and apply for these type of grants, it’s often best to engage a professional funding consultant.

Funding for Community Projects in the Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland, funding is available for community projects from countless trusts, organisations, government agencies and other sources. Here are some of the key funding streams for Irish community groups.

The Ireland Funds

The Ireland Funds actually offer grants in twelve countries around the world, including Ireland, North and South. Grants are available under the broad umbrellas of:

  • Arts and culture,

  • Community development,

  • Education,

  • Peace and reconciliation.

Specific funding streams are available annually for new projects, and existing groups who are seeking to scale their efforts, by improving quality, reach and sustainability.

The Ireland Funds Logo
The Ireland Funds are major donors to a range of community projects. Image credit: The Ireland Funds

The Irish National Lottery

While it does not directly offer grants to organisations, the Irish National Lottery provides millions of euros worth of funding for community projects every year. Specifically, it offers funding for projects relating to:

  • Arts & Culture,

  • Sports,

  • Heritage,

  • Youth,

  • Health & Wellbeing,

  • Community,

  • Irish Language.

Rather than giving grants directly to community groups, the Irish National Lottery administers funding through the relevant departments of the Irish Government, and its statutory agencies like the Arts Council, Heritage Council or Foras na Gaelige.

Grants may be administered through specific individual projects, or by open tendering processes. As ever, when seeking funding from government agencies, it’s typically best to speak with an expert funding consultant.

Funding for Sports Groups

As a subset of community projects, there are also a range of funding streams available for grassroots sports. Of course, sports groups can offer a range of benefits for the wider community, and will typically be eligible for many of the above funding sources.

For example, sports clubs can be effective ways to improve community relationships, public health, mental wellbeing, young people’s confidence, and even educational engagement.

Naturally enough, many of the top funding sources for grassroots sports come from Sport Ireland and sport governing bodies. For example, the Football Association of Ireland, Irish Rugby, and the Gaelic Athletics Association all offer a variety of funding packages, both at the national and regional levels. These may be applicable to clubs, teams, facilities, or other community initiatives.

Many other sports governing bodies also offer similar funding schemes.

If you’re unsure of where to find funding for your community project, or you want help with the process of securing a grant, speak to our expert team today. At S3 Solutions, we have years of experience of securing funding for projects just like yours.


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