Build it

Next Deadline

The September 2019 Build It deadline has now passed. 

Shortlisted applicants will be required to attend in person to pitch to our panel on Tuesday 26 November 2019.  You will also be allocated an appointment to attend a Practice Your Pitch and Cashflow Challenge session in the weeks running up to the panel to help you prepare your presentation. 

Please note : we aim to get back to all applicants as soon as we possibly can, but if you have not had any contact from us in advance of the panel date, usually a few weeks before,  you should assume that your application has not been shortlisted on this occasion.  You will receive written feedback.  

The next deadline for Build It awards to be submitted has been set for Wednesday 29 January 2020 with the pitch to panel on Thursday 26 March 2020.  Fully completed applications must be submitted no later than 12 noon.  

Subsequent deadlines: 

  • To be confirmed

 If you have been able to prove that your concept works, that it has the ability to generate income and sustain itself, we can help you take it further. You can apply if you are a social entrepreneur looking to move on from running your organisation part time to making it your full time career; we can help to cover your salary/living costs for a year to make this happen.

You can apply for up to £20,000 to fund your own salary so that you can concentrate on your enterprise full time.

In exceptional circumstances, we will consider funding up to a further £5,000 for additional essential costs, such as hiring other staff. However, you should bear in mind that the maximum amount is granted in rare instances when applicants are able to present a particularly strong case; our average award at this level is in the region of £18,000.

To be eligible, you must still be at a relatively early stage - i.e. your enterprise must have been trading for two years or less . However, you must also be established enough to demonstrate a strong track record of generating income, covering your costs and achieving tangible social impact.

Competition for Build It funding is very tough, and we prioritise those applications that provide the strongest proof of their success to date. For this reason, we generally recommend that an enterprise has around a year’s trading activity under its belt to be able to compete against other applications.

We look for hard evidence of your track record, including facts and figures to show how your project has made an impact on a particular social issue. We also look for a clear plan detailing how our funding will allow you to grow, and strong cash flow projections.

If you think you might have what it takes, please read our full guidance below before making an application.

Funding criteria

To be eligible for Build It funding, you must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • You must be aged 16 or over
  • You must be permanently resident in Scotland
  • Most people who will benefit from the activities conducted by your enterprise must be resident in Scotland
  • The activities of your enterprise must not involve political campaigning or the advancement of religion
  • Your enterprise must be up and running and able to provide evidence of income generation and social impact to date
  • Your enterprise must have been trading for 2 years or less
  • Profits from the enterprise must be reinvested in the business and its social aims; no assets or uncapped dividends can be transferred out of the organisation to private individuals or bodies 
  • Your enterprise must be an independent organisation – it is neither a project nor a subsidiary of an existing body
  • Your enterprise must aim to provide direct social benefit to individuals, communities and/or the environment (i.e. Firstport does not fund enterprises whose main activities are directed at providing benefit to other organisations)

In addition (if applicable):

  • If your enterprise requires premises to deliver its services, you will need to confirm that these have been identified and that you either have a lease or other formal agreement in place, or that this is in the process of being drawn up
  • If you have received any previous awards received from Firstport, you will need to confirm that you have completed the required sign-off process (ask your award manager if you are unsure)

What can you use the money for?

As a general rule, Build It awards can cover costs which help free up the time of an individual who is leading their own social enterprise, so that it can move on into the next phase of its development.

Funds are usually granted to cover the living costs of an applicant for one year (up to £20,000), ideally allowing you to make the transition from any existing paid employment to a career in running your social enterprise.

The panel may also consider applications where a social entrepreneur is already taking a salary for running their organisation, but is looking to take a more strategic role and hire additional staff to help deliver services. A Build It award may then be used to cover the salary/salaries of the additional staff, provided that no individual salaries exceed £20,000 and the total amount applied for does not exceed £25,000.

In certain exceptional circumstances, where an application is being partly made for funds towards salary/living costs, the panel might also consider funding some other additional expenses, provided that you can show these are necessary to get the business to the next stage, and that the total budget does not exceed £25,000.

What can’t you use the money for?

As our Build It programme is so competitive, in addition to being fully compliant with our funding criteria above:

  • You cannot use the award to fund an organisation which is yet to get up and running. You must be able to demonstrate the enterprise is trading (typically, an applicant will need around 12 month’s trading history to compete against the standard of applications we receive) and delivering social impact.

Which applications are likely to be funded?

  • We prioritise applications where you can show that the funding will allow you to increase the tangible social impact of your enterprise, and create real benefits for individuals, communities and/or the environment during the period of the funding award. It is very unlikely that we will fund applications to conduct feasibility studies or market research around potential opportunities that are less certain to be taken forward.
  • We prioritise applications that create employment; those applications which request funding purely for equipment, rent or other costs - but which do not seek to cover any staff time - are unlikely to be successful.
  • At this level we also prioritise applications where an enterprise has a legal structure which demonstrates a commitment to social enterprise principles. By this, we mean a legal structure with an ‘asset lock’ in its constitution, which prevents uncapped profits being distributed to private individuals or bodies. If you are unsure whether your organisation has an asset lock, please contact us to discuss.
  • If you have received funding from us in the past, you are able to apply again for a new idea; however, we will prioritise applications from individuals who have never had an award before.
  • If your idea involves using art, you must clearly demonstrate it is in response to an identified social, environmental and/or community need, it is a new idea and there are direct benefits to the wider community (not just artists).

Check out our case studies for examples of enterprises that we have supported.

How we assess your application

If your application meets the eligibility criteria above, it will be submitted to a shortlisting panel for consideration. The shortlisting panel will score all of the eligible applications submitted, taking the following into consideration:

Individual – How does your personal track record of leading your enterprise compare against other applicants? What success have you achieved to date? What relevant skills and experience do you have to take the project into the next stage of its development? What links and networks have you developed so far? Do you have the passion and motivation to go further?
Business – Have you been able to make money from your idea already? Have you covered costs and/or turned a profit? Does your enterprise have the potential to sustain itself without relying on long-term grant funding? What are your plans for its future? Does it have the potential to grow, to deliver more services or create more employment?
Social – What social need or issue are you attempting to tackle? What has your enterprise achieved so far towards this? How much impact have you been able to create and how many people have benefitted from your organisation to date? What are your plans for increasing the social impact you deliver in the future, and how many more people will benefit as a result?

How to apply 

First of all, please make sure that your project fulfils the funding criteria above. Ideas that do not meet all of the criteria will not be accepted.

Next, download and read our Application Guide in full before you start work on preparing your application. Build It applications require a lot of work and preparation, so you should make sure you understand the process before you begin. You may also want to look at our Build It case studies to find out more about the kinds of projects we have already funded.

Application form
Once you have prepared the required supporting documents (see below) in line with our guidance, you should complete our online application form. Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be asked to attach your supporting documents and submit your application. Please note:

- You will not be able to submit your application until it is complete.
- Applications which remain incomplete at the closing date will not be considered.
- Once you have submitted your application, you cannot make further amendments or submit updated documents.

Supporting Documents
The Application Guide will tell you how to prepare the following supporting documents which you must submit with your application:

- Business Plan
- Executive Summary
- Two-year cash flow projections (please note: you must download and complete our template)

You can also contact us in advance of submitting your application to get further advice from our business support team. The team deal with an increasing volume of enquiries in the period running up to a Build It application deadline, so please contact us in plenty of time if you would like their assistance. Call 0131 564 0331 to make an appointment.

The next stage – shortlisted applicants
Once you have submitted your application, it will go through our initial assessment process.

If your application is shortlisted, we will contact you to invite you to pitch to our Build It panel. You must be available to attend in person on the specified date, and will be asked to speak about your idea for up to 10 minutes, presenting your case for why we should fund your idea. The panel will then take up to 20 minutes to ask questions about your social enterprise based on your pitch, and the documents submitted in your application (application form, business plan and cash flow projections).

You will be required to attend a ‘Practice your Pitch’ and ‘Challenge your Cash Flow’ session in advance of the panel to ensure you are fully prepared for what will be your final assessment.

After the panel, all shortlisted applicants will be notified of the decision by post.

If your application is not shortlisted, we will notify you by post, and send you feedback to explain why. If we feel that your idea has potential, we will encourage you to work with our business support team to address the feedback, with a view to submitting a further application to a future panel. If the panel feels that your idea is not suitable for Build It funding, we will explain why and, where possible, suggest other sources of support.

Please note: we aim to get back to all applicants as soon as we possibly can, but if you have not had any contact from us in advance of the panel date, you should assume that your application has not been shortlisted on this occasion. You will receive written feedback.

Documents to download
Click here to download the Application Guide
Click here to download the Two-year cash flow projections template

Data protection

Firstport is committed to respecting your privacy and protecting your personal data.

We will keep the information provided within your application on file for a period of seven years. It will be permanently deleted after the publication of Firstport annual accounts. This is for accounting purposes and in line with HMRC requirements.

Submitting a Build It application is acknowledgement that you understand and accept our obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set out in our Privacy Policy.

Complaints process 

At Firstport we strive to provide you with the best possible service; however, we recognise that sometimes things can go wrong. If you would like to make a complaint, please read our Complaints procedure.