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Funding your community energy project

Community initiatives have a key role to play in fighting climate change and ending the suffering caused by cold homes.

Whether you’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings in your community, provide energy advice to local people, or start a local renewable energy initiative, various grants and funding schemes are available.

This page explores some of your options. It covers:

If you’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of your community building, check out our building-specific funding information.

A group of people pose for a photo in front of an array of solar panels in a field.
Sunshine in Somerset! Participants of Burnham and Weston Energy celebrate the 2018 opening of their 9.3 megawatt solar array, financed by a long-term loan from Triodos Bank and a £4m solar bond offer.

Grants for community energy projects

The grant world is constantly changing. Grant programmes come in many forms including …

National Community Energy Fund

A new £10 million national Community Energy Fund was announced in autumn 2023, building on the old Urban and Rural Community Energy Funds and managed through the regional net zero hubs.

Finding grant funding

There are various funding search websites and databases including:

Grants administered by CSE

CSE has deep roots in the community energy sector, which is why we are asked to administer grant schemes on behalf of many funders. These include:

Rural communities energy support network
Bristol City Leap community energy fund
SGN safe and warm scheme
Energy affordability fund
Thrive Renewables community benefit programme
SSEN enabling works fund
Power partners

Tips on making grant applications

Making a grant application can be a big undertaking. Luckily, there’s a wealth of guidance and resources online to support you with making your application.

At CSE, we have a lot of experience writing successful grant applications. We’ve put together a helpful checklist to support communities with grant applications, which you can download below.

Here’s some additional resources we recommend:


For some ideas, particularly where other sources of funding or finance are not viable, crowdfunding is well worth exploring. It’s a great way to enable people to invest in something they believe in. It can also help to raise money which would put you in a position to secure other funding in future.

Crowdfunding is quite literally the process of getting funds from a crowd – via an online platform. Funders can come from anywhere in the world and they can be an individual, organisation or business.

In return for their contribution, you might offer donors:

Platforms can be broadly categorised into equity-based and loan-based (which are both FCA-regulated), and reward-based and donation-based. Crowd funding usually involves a one-off transaction, so there’s minimal administration involved.

You can use crowdfunding to raise very small or pretty large amounts — from small campaigns like Keep Streets Live which raised just over £3k, to ambitious projects like Solar Schools, which raised more than £700k. If you have a strong network of supporters and you’re prepared to put some time and effort into promoting the opportunity it can be a game changer.

Crowdfunding platforms

There are lots of websites that make crowdfunding simple. Here are a few suggestions:

Running a crowdfunding campaign

Here are some tips from Nesta for running a crowdfunding campaign.

And here are some successful examples of crowdfunder campaigns for community initiatives:

Raising shares

Raising shares from your community is a tried and tested way to secure long-term investments. It’s suitable for developing larger projects with an income stream, such as sales of electricity, beer, bread etc. This approach to financing is common for projects that require high capital costs (fixed, one-time expenses) such as large infrastructure developments.

You’ll need a strong business plan and to demonstrate that there’ll be surplus income which can be used to pay interest on the investments, and eventually pay back the capital investment too. Depending on the legal model, you may also wish, or be obliged, to pay into a community benefit fund. The interest rate on shares can vary depending on the health of the business, and depending on your constitution, may be capped:

The declared maximum rate of interest is the lowest rate sufficient to obtain the necessary funds from members who are committed to furthering the society’s objects

Community Shares Handbook

There are administrative costs associated with handling shares, so a minimum investment of £100-£250 is recommended, with a caveat that people only invest an amount they can afford to lose. You should not seek investment from financially vulnerable people. Businesses and organisations can also invest in shares.

Cooperative UK has a useful resource on community shares, including their Community Shares Handbook.

Share-raising platforms

Share-raising platforms connect projects to investors to help raise shares and manage them on an ongoing basis. Some examples include:

Another benefit of community shares is that they can help to secure further investment, particularly for larger projects. Raising community shares is valued by institutional investors as it demonstrates community support and provides some financial security.

Institutional investment

Institutional investment can take the form of bonds, loans, or equity from institutions. Before you can access sources of finance like these, you’ll generally have to be able to show that you have an ‘investment ready’ project or initiative. That means you have done all the at-risk development work to set up something which is now expected to be able to generate sufficient income to pay back what you borrow over time.

Some examples of institutional investors are Power to Change and Social and Sustainable Capital.


A shorter-term community investment opportunity is a bond – these are fixed-term investments at a set interest rate and have the advantage that they can be part of a (tax-free) ISA savings account. Businesses and organisations can invest in bonds.

Platforms like Ethex and Abundance can also be used to raise bonds.


Ethical and charitable banks and loan providers are experienced at lending to community businesses and organisations, for projects that have environmental or social impact. Some will also provide low-interest loans.

Some key examples are:

Looking for funding to improve your community building?

Check out our building-specific funding page for information about funding energy improvements to village halls, churches or schools.