What we funded

Emergency grant-making
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Our main response to the Covid emergency was a quick response fund that offered flexible funding to currently funded organisations and individuals. We reached out to all grant-holders within the first weeks of the pandemic and used these conversations, and others later in the year, to help identify where our funding could make a difference.

Later on, we extended the Fund to select other organisations and individuals. In total, around a fifth of emergency grants went to those who did not hold another grant with PHF.

Supporting different sectors

We analysed where our funding was going across our strategic priority areas. Funds supported work across all aspects of our strategy, but most frequently these went to organisations in our ‘Investing in young people’ priority, totalling around a quarter of all emergency grants, with a further 15% going to organisations working in the field of migration and a similar number going to support organisations funded through our Arts Access and Participation theme.

How emergency grants were used

Grant-holders adapted quickly in a variety of ways and many used the funding to meet multiple needs – some were offering direct hardship relief including food, shelter and access to phones and data to mitigate the effects of digital exclusion in their communities, as many services switched to online delivery. Around a third of our grants included a contribution towards these types of costs.

Some organisations used the funding to help adapt their services – this included the purchase of hardware like laptops, as well as providing training, recruitment and developing new ways of working. In other circumstances, organisations found that the shift in the context and the move to online working meant a huge uplift in demand for their services, and our funding contributed to their efforts to scale their offer.

In other circumstances our grants were used to support cashflow or core costs associated with the disruption to delivery and the need to replan for the future.

Responding to structural inequality

Early on in the year it was clear that issues related to racism and structural inequality were impacting on the way that Covid was experienced in communities. We were alert to these issues, and supported work that aimed to redress the balance.

Based on an audit of our grants using the Funders for Race Equality Alliance audit tool, we found that 10% of our emergency funding went to support organisations that both have a mission to support Black and minoritised communities, and that have a majority leadership from those communities. These grants totalled £1.1 million. We are aware that we need to do more to address structural inequality across the sectors we work in. You can read more about our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion here.

Within days of the start of the first lockdown PHF was making emergency grants.

In numbers


Total amount awarded


‘Covid Response Fund – emergency grants


Act for Change Fund – Covid Response grants


Awards for Artists grants