The aim of the Capital Leverage Fund is to support community and cultural organisations to deliver capital projects which provide new and improved facilities for our communities and residents.

The fund also helps organisations secure additional investment from funders outside of their organisation.

Projects need to meet at least one of the Dorset Council priorities and the Cultural Strategy priorities. Dorset Council’s four Cultural priorities are:

  • Community
  • Cultural County
  • Environment
  • Economy

On this page:

Projects we fund

We can fund capital projects including:

  • village hall or community building enhancements, renovations, maintenance, or new build projects, including car parks, play areas, MUGAS, pitches, and landscaping
  • capital projects that address disadvantage or equal access for communities
  • capital projects that may contribute to an improved environmental impact or address climate change themes
  • outdoor play areas including multi-use games areas (MUGAs)
  • new public art
  • landscaping for improving accessibility and improving inclusivity
  • project management costs
  • feasibility studies or first stage conceptual development (e.g. Heritage Lottery Fund form passed)

Who can apply

‘Not for profit’ community organisations in the Dorset Council area, with an annual turnover of less than £1million can apply.

This includes:

  • accredited museums
  • arts organisations
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIO’s)
  • community buildings that are owned by Dorset Council and leased to a Voluntary Community Organisation (not within any repairing agreement with Dorset Council), subject to permission from us and can demonstrate 10 year security of tenure
  • community centres and village halls
  • Community Interest Companies (CIC). We will only fund CIC’s with a minimum of 3 directors, two of whom must be unrelated. We need to see a clear ‘Asset Lock’ Statement and Memorandums and Articles of Association.
  • community sports facilities
  • Company Ltd by Guarantee (not for profit)
  • constituted organisations
  • heritage organisations
  • non-profit making organisations operated with no undue restriction on membership e.g. charities
  • partnerships of organisations with a written partnership agreement (town councils can be part of a partnership project) 
  • Registered Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC)
  • town and parish councils
  • Voluntary and Community Sector organisations
  • youth centres and community-run pre-schools

If your organisation has an annual turnover of over £1million, contact us to discuss your application first. You can still apply but will be a lower priority.

How much funding you can apply for

You can apply for a capital grant of between £1,000 and £25,000, to fund up to 20% of your total project costs.

If you plan to use the funding for feasibility studies or first stage conceptual development, we can fund up to 20% of your total project costs up to a maximum value of £15,000.

If you plan to use some of your grant to cover project management costs, you can request up to 10% of your total grant to go towards these costs, up to a maximum value of £2,500.

Funding must be matched by other funding from outside of your organisation. You will need to give evidence of external funding before we can release our funding to you.

We expect demand for funding to be very high so we may award you less than you apply for.

If your organisation has other projects funded by capital funding from us (for example, capital leverage or leisure development funding), they must be completed before applying to this fund.

Before you apply

This fund opens to applications from midday on Monday 10 January 2022. Applications close at midday on Friday 6 January 2023.

Read the application guidance before you apply to:

  • see the questions and plan your answers
  • find out which documents to submit to support your application
  • set up an account and apply

We can only accept applications submitted through the online form.

If you'd like to speak to us about your project, email us at:

How to apply

You will be prompted to create an account before you apply. This will allow you to view and keep track of your application.

Help applying online

If you need help to complete the online application form, call the Dorset Digital Hotline on 01305 221048.

They are available between 10am and midday weekdays (except bank holidays). At other times, please leave a message and they will get back to you.

Governance and policies

If you need help with your governance or policies, please contact Avril Atkins, Community Action Network.

Assessment dates

Your application will be assessed by the grants panel on the next assessment date after you apply.

Round 1: Monday 7 March 2022 - applications to be received no later than 2 March

Round 2: Friday 16 September 2022 - applications to be received no later than 12 September

Round 3: Monday 9 January 2023 - applications to be received no later than 6 January

We may defer applications to the next round for assessment where demand is high.

Funding award dates

We will award funding to successful applicants on the following dates:

Round 1: Monday 28 March 2022

Round 2: Friday 30 September 2022

Round 3: Friday 20 January 2023

Delivering your project

Funds will be available for 2 years after an award is made. This will be reviewed by a monitoring officer after 12 months.

You must tell us about any changes to your project. Failure to do so may result in part or all the grant awarded having to be returned or not allocated.

For projects being delivered by a consortium or partnership, the leaseholder will act as the lead partner. They will be responsible for overseeing the delivery and monitoring of the project.

You will be asked to sign a standard grant agreement with full details of your grant award including any terms and conditions.

You will be required to submit an annual progress report during the project followed by an end of project report.

Unsuccessful applications

If your application is unsuccessful, we will contact you to discuss whether you’d like it to be deferred and considered at a future round of funding. Our advice is given on a case-by-case basis.

Decisions made by our grants panel are final. There is no appeals process.


These organisations cannot apply for funding:

  • newly constituted organisations who have been in existence for less than 12 months
  • nurseries or pre-schools (unless it is a community led trust)
  • educational facilities (schools, universities, colleges)
  • religious establishments for religious use. The panel will consider distinct buildings used for community activities i.e. community hall but it must be a separate charity/trust or demonstrate extensive community use.
  • hospitals or hospices
  • private businesses or commercial organisations including preschools, nurseries, and schools
  • individuals or requests for personal equipment

Funding cannot be used for:

  • projects under £1,000
  • core or continuation costs e.g. normal staffing costs, business rates, normal insurance, and other running costs normally incurred by the organisation
  • projects that have already started unless it is a new phase of development (building) that has not yet begun
  • funding to match against funds solely sourced from Dorset Council or your own organisation
  • any projects connected with or funded from other Dorset Council project funds
  • non fixed sports equipment and other small non fixed capital items e.g. lawnmowers, printers, personal computers and electronic equipment, kitchen utensils
  • restoration of public art or memorials
  • the purchase or maintenance of vehicles or minibuses
  • purchase of speed indicator devices (SIDs)
  • projects outside the Dorset Council area i.e. Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and other surrounding areas
  • projects which we believe could harm the reputation of Dorset Council
  • projects which duplicate a service already commissioned by Dorset Council
  • projects that cannot demonstrate financial need - proof of capital reserves may be asked for

Terms and conditions

This fund is subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • any funds awarded will only be released when the grants panel are confident that all other funding is secured and in place
  • applicants who are successful will have up to 24 months to secure and draw down other external funding and start their project
  • if funding is not in place by the end of 24 months Dorset Council may withdraw their offer of a grant
  • if any changes are made to the project you must consult with Dorset Council, failure to do so may result in part or all of the grant awarded having to be returned
  • if for any reason you find that external funding applied for is unsuccessful you must contact Dorset council immediately to discuss how this will impact on your original project/build
  • for projects being delivered by a consortia or partnership, it is the lead partner who is responsible for overseeing delivery and monitoring of the project
  • applicants will be required to submit an end of project report once they complete their project/build
  • applicants who are not ready to start within 12 months of an award will need to provide an interim report to the council to determine if their project is progressing as planned and any external funding applied for has been secured
  • applicants will be asked to sign a standard grant agreement with full details of their grant award including terms and conditions
  • all organisations will need to submit an 'End of Project Report'
  • applicants will need to demonstrate and evidence that their project is needed and that the intended beneficiaries of the project have been involved and consulted with
  • decisions made by Dorset Council’s Grants Panel are final. There is no appeals process
  • Dorset Council will not accept/consider any applications received after the closing date
  • applications not submitted on the councils online application form will not be considered
  • we reserve the right to make changes to the guidance and/or programme after its launch. We will communicate any changes as quickly as we can
  • where demand for funds are high it may be necessary to defer some applications to another round. Where this is the case applicants will be notified
  • In some cases it may not be possible to award the full amount requested by the applicant. If this is the case a ‘partial’ award may be offered
  • Dorset council may share information regarding your grant request with other funding agencies so that we are able to make the best use of our funding and avoid duplication

Decision making process

Dorset Council Officers will shortlist, review and make recommendations for funding via its Grant Panel(s).

  • there will be three rounds of grant assessments throughout the year. Assessment dates and final award decision dates are publicised on the council webpage and in the grants guidance document. Where demand for grants is high we reserve the right to change these dates
  • there will be two grant panels. One panel will consider applications from the voluntary and community sector, whilst the second will focus on applications from the Cultural sector
  • each Grant Panel will comprise of at least three Specialist Dorset Council Officers (one acts as the panel Chair), the portfolio holder for communities and at least one representative who brings with them their expertise and knowledge of Dorset’s Community and Cultural sectors
  • applications will be screened by each member of their respective grants panel to ensure fairness
  • where a conflict of interest occurs the relevant Officer/representative will not take part in the assessment and the conflict of interest will be recorded
  • an assessment summary of all eligible and shortlisted applications, with Officer recommendations are put forward by the Council’s Grants Officer/Manager, to be considered by each of the grant panels. The recommendation by the Grants Officer/Manager is for guidance only
  • councillors will be able to comment and offer feedback on specific projects in their ward through a ‘councillor feedback ‘ form which is linked to the online application form.
  • the Panel will assess each application against the fund criteria and use a scoring matrix to agree and prioritise awards. Decisions are made by a majority vote. Where there is no majority the council’s Portfolio holder for Communities will have the deciding vote. The panel decision is final
  • if an applicant withdraws their application after the panel decision has been made, the Chair, in consultation with the other panel members, can agree to award the grant to another applicant
  • any decision to amend the award if the project or organisation has changed, or new information comes to light that affects the application will be considered by the Grants Officer/Manager and Panel Chair, in consultation with other panel members as appropriate

Data sharing

Dorset Council will share basic data information regarding your application with other local grant managers/funding streams. This will enable us to make informed funding decisions, avoid duplication of funding and ensure value for money is achieved through our grant making processes. Dorset Council will also ensure that applicants data is stored appropriately. See details of our Data Privacy and GDPR policy