Click here to view our all island annual report 2020 View Now

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The Northern Ireland Executive and the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA have provided COVID recovery funding for charities and social enterprises and a range of other not-for-profit organisations.

Community Finance Ireland will deliver the COVID Recovery Programme for Charities & Social Enterprises with the aim of reducing or removing operating deficits in eligible organisations which have arisen in the 2021/22 financial year because of the COVID pandemic.

The COVID Recovery Programme for Charities & Social Enterprises will support eligible organisations which have been negatively affected by the pandemic in the financial year 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022; and which have a financial operating deficit during that period which is attributable to COVID.

All the details that you will need are here to help you and your team get ready for the 5 January 2022 live application date.

How to Apply

  • All applications must be made through the online form accessed through the ‘APPLY HERE’ Button below (available from opening date 5 January 2022).
  • Supporting documents requested in the checklist below, must be supplied as an upload in the relevant section of the online application form.
  • Respondents don’t have to complete an application in one sitting. They can start to fill one in, close it, and then return later and their answers will still be there. However, you should ensure that you remain on the same browser and device (and not in Incognito or Private browsing mode). Your answers will be kept safely in your browser’s local storage, for 15 days. When you open the application again, you’ll be taken to the start of the form, but will see your existing answers from your last visit. You can edit those answers and fill out the rest of the questions before submitting.

Checklist of Supporting Documents

To help you prepare in advance, you have here a checklist of documents you will need when submitting your application:-

  • Completed Financial Overview Template (included in Readiness Pack below)
  • Governing Documents (e.g. Constitution and/or Memorandum and Articles of Association)
  • Copy photo ID & Proof of Address for two Trustees/Directors and Key Contact (please see document list in guidance notes)
  • Bank statement – This must be the account you want the grant paid into (Ensure that you have uploaded a copy bank statement clearly showing applicant name, bank name, bank address, bank account number and bank sort code.)
  • Management accounts for April 2021 to September 2021
  • Financial Projections for October 2021 to March 2022
  • Reserves Policy Statement
  • Annual Accounts (Year end 2019 & Year end 2020)

All of these elements will need to form part of your completed application to be submitted between the 5 January and the closing date of 28 January 2022.

Covid Recovery Programme Readiness Pack

Further Help is on Hand

For Charities

NICVA will provide on-going independent advice for charities from today right through until the closing date of 28 January 2022.  This is either by phoning NICVA on 028 9087 7777 or by requesting a call back on the NICVA website.

In addition, NICVA are also hosting an information webinars on Monday 10 January 2-3pm (Session 1) and Wednesday 12 January 12noon-1pm (session 2), be sure to book a place here: Session 1 or Session 2

For Social Enterprises

Social Enterprise NI will provide on-going independent advice for social enterprises from today right through until the closing date of 28 January 2022.  This is either by phoning Social Enterprise NI on 028 9046 1810 or by requesting a call back by email:

In addition, Social Enterprise NI are also hosting an information webinar on Tuesday 11 January 12noon-1pm, be sure to book a place here: DfC Covid Recovery Fund Social Enterprise NI Advice Hub

Covid Recovery Programme DfC Charities Social Enterprises

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Today (16 September 2021) Ulster Community Investment Trust Ltd t/a Community Finance Ireland held its all island AGM and officially launched its 2020 Annual Report.

The report published today highlights the following key takeaways:

Northern Ireland

  • £3.1 m of loan approvals into 37 local projects;
  • £9.1m to 315 social enterprises via much needed grant payments in collaboration with Department of Communities NI and SENI; and
  • £ 4.1m to 140 SME clients through the management of NISBLF Fund II.

Republic of Ireland

  • £2.6m/ €2.7m of loan approvals into 37 projects in the Leinster Region;
  • £1.4m./ €1.67m of loan approvals into 32 projects in the Munster Region;
  • £0.6m./ €0.5m of loan approvals into 25 projects in the Connaught Region; and
  • £4.4m/€4.6m of loan approvals into 72 projects in Ulster (including NI).

With a client portfolio, whose core assets are predominately its volunteers, the 169 projects saw their own belief mirrored back to them and secured term or bridging loans which supported them in:

  • Keeping their doors open;
  • Pivoting their business;
  • Ensuring their viability when their services were needed more than ever; and
  • Ensuring their sustainability as the island transitions to a new normal.

In what was an extraordinary year for the history the organisation and for the communities and citizens on the island of Ireland Donal Traynor Group Chief Executive said the following:

“The combined market conditions of Brexit and Covid left us all a little shaken in 2020. Yet it also stirred in us a reminder of the importance of access to social finance and the resilience of communities across our shared island.

Our partners in NI: Invest NI and Enterprise NI and Department for Communities, and in ROI SFF, Rethink Ireland and DCU also stepped up and showed their support to the ongoing sustainability and viability of the NFP sector.

It was a year like no other and yet we can confidently say that we supported both our clients and key stakeholders achieve great things and ensured that, when we were asked to stay apart we came together in ways that we could have only imagined.

As a result, we have much to admire and be proud of as our ongoing promise to ensure social impact is felt not simply dreamt continues”.

Donal Traynor, Group Chief Executive Community Finance Ireland

View the report in full here.

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Community Finance Ireland, the fastest-growing social finance provider across Ireland and the UK, has welcomed the announcement today by the Social Finance Foundation of new funding initiatives targeted at community organisations and social enterprises.

The Social Finance Foundation (SFF) is an independent organisation established by government in 2007. It provides loan funding to social organisations through lending partners including Community Finance Ireland.

Today, SFF announced that:

  1. Facilitated by Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, the Irish banks (AIB/EBS, Bank of Ireland, permanent tsb and Ulster Bank) will make available an additional €44 million in low-cost funding to SFF over the period 2021 to 2025; and
  2. The European Investment Fund has agreed to provide loan guarantees totalling €25 million to support new lending by the Foundation.

Access to capital “at a time when it is really needed”
Welcoming the announcement, Dónal Traynor, Associate Director of Community Finance Ireland, said:

“These measures confirm access to capital for the community and social enterprise market for at least another five years, at a time when it is really needed.

“With the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, we anticipate a reduction in grant funding to the community sector generally, so – in the coming years – social finance will play an increasingly vital role in supporting community organisations and social enterprises. At the same time, Covid-19 has starkly shown the importance of community solidarity, ‘social capital’ and sustainability within communities. The SFF measures announced today will help us continue our support to grassroots communities groups and, in turn, will help groups provide essential services in their local areas.

“We have been proud partners of SFF since our accreditation with them as a Social Lending Organisation in 2008. Right across the island of Ireland, Community Finance Ireland works with groups that drive social impact, including sports clubs, social housing organisations, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises.

“We can provide loans ranging from €30,000 to €500,000, and our finance products are specifically tailored for the community sector. We have waived arrangement fees to make loans as accessible and cost-effective as possible, we have a quick turnaround time for lending decisions, and – given the organisations we lend to are typically run by volunteers – we do not ask for personal guarantees.

“Since the start of 2020, Community Finance Ireland has already approved loans of €3,900,000, supporting community organisations to acquire new premises and equipment, restructure current debt, and bridge financial gaps caused by delayed grants or other postponed income. The new SFF initiatives announced today will ensure we can continue this important work well into future years.”

Donal Traynor, Associate Director of Community Finance Ireland

Credibility of social finance sector
Mr. Traynor said the SFF initiatives – and the support for them from industry groups – demonstrate the credibility of the social finance sector, and will open up funding opportunities to a wider range of community groups.

“This commitment from Banking and Payments Federation Ireland is a testament to the credibility of the social finance sector, and to the strong performance of our diverse loan portfolio over the past 12 years.”

He added:

“There has been a default rate of just 0.25% on our loans since 2008, which is low by any standard and particularly when you consider that the majority of our loans are made available on an unsecured basis. This is in no small part due to the strong relationship which we have developed with communities over time.

“Meanwhile, the loan guarantee from the European Investment Fund will allow Community Finance Ireland to consider those deals where, previously, social finance could not provide the funding due to the level of risk involved, and potentially where the absence of realisable security may have been the difference in making funds available.

“At a time when communities across Ireland have been sorely tested and when many community groups are feeling the strain, today’s SFF announcement is good and welcome news for our sector.”

Donal Traynor, Associate Director Community Finance Ireland

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We are doing everything possible to support community organisations in coming to terms with the unprecedented challenges now faced by all.

We want to assure you, that we are behind you and will help and support in any way we can. 

To all our clients:

  • Your local client executive continues to be available to you.
  • Flexibility and Fairness is our customer experience. This remains. Our team are working remotely, in line with public policy. 
  • Collaboration with our capital providers continues and we are working, with them, right across the island of Ireland, in the best interests of the sector.

To the Sector in general:

  • We have always understood the importance of collaboration.
  • We remain open to listening to you and your ideas.
  • We remain committed to supporting communities and those who need our assistance.

Please ensure you keep yourself updated with the relevant expertise.

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Wash your hands. Practice Social Distancing. Stay Safe.

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Community Finance Ireland were awarded the coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star accreditation at an event held in Croke Park earlier this month.

Pictured is Donal Traynor Associate Director Community Finance Ireland with Kapil Khann Managing Director All Ireland Business Foundation.

This is an independently verified standard mark for indigenous businesses, based on rigorous selection criteria.

The accreditation, overseen by the prestigious All-Ireland Business Foundation, whose adjudication panel is chaired by Dr Briga Hynes of the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick and Kieran Ring, CEO of the Global Institute of Logistics.

Dr Hynes said the accreditation, now held by over 350 firms, is needed by the thousands of small and medium businesses, which operate to their own standards, but have nothing to measure them by. “We evaluate a company’s background, trustworthiness and performance, and we speak to customers, employees and vendors,” she said.

“We also anonymously approach the company as a customer and report back on the experience.The business goes through at least two interviews and is scored on every part of the process against set metrics.”

Dr Briga Hynes, Kemmy Business School (University of Limerick)

The All-Ireland Business Foundation is responsible for overseeing the All-Ireland Business Summit and All-Star awards, ongoing All-Star accreditation, Thought Leader awards and promoting peer dialogue among members.

Donal Traynor on receiving the award says:

“We are a people business. We are delighted that this recognition offers us a platform to reach more people and to continue to raise awareness of Community Finance Ireland. Thank you to the foundation for welcoming us to this professional group”.

Donal Traynor, Associate Director of Community Finance Ireland

For more information check out Community Finance Ireland’s profile on the Business All Star Awards website.