The Anchor Programme: long-term core funding to catalyse systemic change

Funding theme: The Anchor Programme

The Anchor Programme will reopen to applications in 2024

Grant details

  • Area: Greater London
  • Open to: New applicants, including organisations which have received or are currently receiving funding from City Bridge Foundation
  • Deadline: The Expression of Interest stage is now closed and we are no longer accepting Expressions of Interest. A second round of Anchor Programme funding will open to applications in 2024.
  • Funding length: Between 7 and 10 years
  • Funding size: The minimum you can apply for is £50,000 per year and the maximum is £150,000 per year.

About the Anchor Programme

At City Bridge Foundation we want to provide long-term, core funding to second-tier organisations that provide support to frontline groups.

To receive funding, organisations need to demonstrate a strong commitment to equitable practice and to addressing the marginalisation and discrimination experienced by those with intersecting identities.

The Anchor Programme has been co-designed with civil society organisations and aims to achieve change for Londoners at a systemic level.


The Expression of Interest stage is now closed and we are no longer accepting Expressions of Interest. A second round of Anchor Programme funding will open to applications in 2024. 

Expressions of Interest were reviewed by a shortlisting panel composed of civil society organisations. Notification emails have been sent to everyone who applied. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants. However, we have listed the most common reasons for not advancing applications through to the second stage.

Successful applicants were invited to submit an application between 19 May and 14 June 2023.

When we have your online application and all supporting documents, your application will be reviewed by our team.

Successful applications were signed off at our Board Meeting in September 2023.

First grants awarded: Press release November 2023

What we will fund

At the heart of this programme is a commitment to achieve change for Londoners at a systemic level. The fund will aim to achieve this by providing long-term core funding, over a period of 7–10 years, to organisations that provide second-tier support.

Organisations applying for the Anchor Programme may also provide some frontline service delivery, but this should be seen as secondary and supportive to the main second-tier focus.

We want to support organisations that can demonstrate that their work is led by and/​or designed collectively with the communities they support.

The aim is to support organisations that demonstrate a commitment to equitable practice and in addressing the marginalisation and discrimination experienced by those with intersecting identitiesThe fund also seeks to encourage partnership and collaborative work with other organisations in the sector.

Funding organisations rather than projects

The Anchor Programme will fund organisations rather than projects, providing financial sustainability. Grants will only be made for core costs; we will not review applications for project-related costs. To be eligible for funding, organisations should have a minimum annual income of £100,000.

The funding will allow organisations to creatively problem solve without the restrictions of short-term funding, giving them space to collaborate, take risks and to create systemic change.

In addition, the fund aims to achieve the following:

  • Capacity building: improving capacity for civil society organisations to engage in positive structural change
  • Wider knowledge sharing within civil society
  • More equitable outcomes for London’s marginalised communities
  • A rebalanced relationship between funder and funded organisations, with a deeper focus on funded organisations’ learning journeys

We recognise that organisations applying to this fund may be at different stages on their journey. Perhaps your organisation is more recently established and would like to focus on networking, or perhaps it would like to deep dive into policy work.

Ultimately, we want Anchor Programme funding to allow your organisation to breathe and to focus on your long-term plans.

  • Acknowledge areas of historic underinvestment in organisations working with minoritised communities
  • Give second-tier organisations the opportunity to take some risks and try something new
  • Give long term sustainability to work that has proven to be effective
  • Focus on policy and research to contribute to structural change in the sector; this might include hiring research and policy officers
  • Resource to increase capacity to allow organisations to work on their long-term business plan/​strategy over the next 7–10 years
  • Develop key, equal partnerships with organisations and communities that are often excluded, marginalised and minoritised.
  • Gather insights and knowledge from the communities you serve providing a platform for the insights to be shared and potentially using this to lead to structural change
  • Support communities to tell their own stories; building networks based on this
  • Be able to succession plan for future leaders/​create a pipeline of future leaders
  • Help build and/​or improve digital platforms
  • Plan and look ahead to anticipate challenges and opportunities for the sector in the next decade, and to inform and support groups to be able to respond creatively and effectively
  • Create a thriving space for networking, convening groups and supporting them to share their knowledge and insights with a wider audience
  • Create an environment that supports movement building and where activism and solidarity is possible (instead of simply firefighting)

Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and there will be an opportunity for you to expand on your hopes for the funding in your application.

City Bridge Foundation has another grant programme called Infrastructure funding: capacity building and representation. This fund is also available to second-tier organisations and sets out to provide high-quality support to wider networks of frontline voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in the capital.

However, only the Anchor Programme focuses on providing long-term funding to catalyse systemic change. The Infrastructure funding programme does not focus on systemic change.

Other differences:

  • The Infrastructure funding programme awards grants for up to five years
  • The Infrastructure funding stream has restrictions on core funding, including a taper and a maximum grant amount relative to the applicant’s annual turnover. These restriction do not apply to the Anchor Programme

The Anchor Programme is a multi-million pound fund and we expect to receive a high volume of applications. 

Organisations awarded grants under the Anchor Programme will be reviewed every three years. This will be an opportunity to assess progress made and to discuss future plans. If for example your organisation has a grant of 10 years then there will be a review after three years, after six years and after nine years.

Applicants are encouraged to include costs for evaluation and learning time as part of your budget. We also encourage applicants to include any access need costs, such as expenditure on translation and interpreting services.

Guidance for applicants

When sending in an Expression of Interest, applicants must demonstrate

  • That your organisation is a second-tier organisation that provides services and support for frontline organisations, strengthening London’s civil society
  • That your organisation has an intersectional and equity focus, and works with users identifying with one or more of the following characteristics: Age, Disability, Gender / Gender reassignment / Gender identity, Immigration status, Maternity, Sex, Sexual orientation, Socio-economic status, Race / Ethnicity, Religion / Belief
  • That your organisation is led by and for the people it works to support. As an indication, this might be at least 75% of the Board of Trustees or Management Committee AND at least 50% of senior staff self-identifying as from a specific community or protected characteristic.

    In some cases, we will accept organisations that can demonstrate clear evidence of taking significant steps to be more representative. For example, you may be working towards becoming anti-racist or working in a trauma-informed way.

    Alternatively, you will be able to demonstrate that your organisation has appropriate mechanisms for involving underrepresented communities in the development of your organisational strategy.

If you submit an Expression of Interest and are invited to make an application, the shortlisting panel will look for the following details when assessing your application.

  • That you understand the complexity of systemic change, and can make a clear case of how you will advance systemic change in London’s civil society
  • That you can show that your organisation is embedded in the community or communities you support. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they have a track record of engagement with broad-based movements
  • That you can demonstrate how you work in partnership with other organisations to further equity and justice, by supporting one another and influencing policy and/​or the wider sector
  • That you can demonstrate how you advocate for smaller frontline organisations
  • That you can demonstrate how your organisation has an appetite to pilot new ways of working and to be experimental

If you submit a successful Expression of Interest and are invited to make an application, you will need to supply the following documents.

  • A copy of your organisation’s most recently signed annual accounts
  • Copies of your management accounts, or equivalent. Management accounts are the financial updates which your governing advisors (eg committee, trustees or board) use to oversee your organisation’s finances and strategic decision making
  • A draft budget that shows the total funding you are requesting (between 7 and 10 years) using the a template which we will supply. We recognise that your organisation may need to respond flexibly to changing priorities and there will be an opportunity to discuss this budget with your Funding Manager during assessment. You can request a minimum of £50,000 per year, and a maximum of £150,000 per year.
  • Budget for your organisation to your financial year-end. This document explains your organisation’s expected income and planned expenditure
  • Your organisation’s most recent strategy and/​or business plan
  • Your organisation’s safeguarding policy
  • Your organisation’s constitution / governing document


Use the link below to download a copy of the information on this page. 

How to submit an Expression of Interest

The Expression of Interest stage is now closed and we are no longer accepting Expressions of Interest.

A second round of Anchor Programme funding will open to applications in 2024.

The story of the Anchor Programme

Khadra Aden and Clara Espinosa, Heads of the Anchor Programme, explain why we have co-designed the Anchor Programme with civil society organisations, and how we’re committed to learning, to being bold, and to trying something new.

The story of the Anchor Programme


Co-design is about designing with other people, not for them. It uses inclusive practice to share knowledge, and challenges the imbalance of power held by some individuals and organisations.

There is no single definition of core costs. The terms core costs, operating costs, and central costs can be used interchangeably within the sector. However, core costs typically describe an organisation’s essential running costs, such as support costs, income generation and governance.

Anchor Programme applicants will need to demonstrate how long-term core funding will be used to support (finance/​cover/​offset?) an organisation’s core costs, supporting the organisation’s long-term strategic aims that will help bring about systemic change.

The terms equity and equality sound similar, but the implementation of both can have different outcomes. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.

Intersectionality is a term coined by civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. She initially used the term to explain the specific experiences of African American women, who experience both racism and sexism. In this instance, intersectionality recognises that a black woman will experience racism differently from a black man, and that a black woman will experience sexism differently from a white woman.

The term is now used more widely to talk about a wider range of intersecting identities, including factors such as migration status, disability or age, all of which can affect the different types of discrimination or unfair treatment faced by communities and individuals.

Second-tier organisations deliver capacity building services and/​or voice, representation and advocacy support to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. Second-tier organisations do not generally engage directly with those who are the beneficiaries of frontline organisations.

Second-tier organisations may also be known as infrastructure organisations. For this programme, we may also refer to them as Anchor Organisations.

Systemic change is about tackling the inbuilt inequalities which privilege some groups in society and disadvantage others. Bringing about systemic change is about addressing the causes, rather than the symptoms, of a societal issue.

An example of systemic change would be enabling communities and individuals to identify the root causes of their poverty, and to create strategies, including advocacy, to change the societal structures which are keeping them in poverty.

Such systemic change means looking beyond alleviating immediate needs (such as providing food, clothing and shelter) and instead tackling the inequalities which lead to so many communities and individuals experiencing poverty in the first place.