RSA Catalyst FAQs
At the RSA, we believe that everyone should have the power to turn their ideas into reality. We call this the Power to Create.
Two types of Catalyst grants are available to Fellows:
- Our £1-2k Small Grants, which catalyse new ideas into robust projects.
- Our £10k Scaling Grants, which support the scaling of projects that are aligned to our mission of positive social change in our key focus areas. These are Public Services and Communities, Creative Learning & Development and Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing.
There are four rounds of funding each financial year. There are fewer £10k Scaling Grants available so these are generally more competitive. More information on specific round dates can be found here.
An RSA Fellow must be the lead on the application to be eligible for a Catalyst grant. However, as the RSA advocates collaboration, the project team can consist of both Fellows and non-Fellows. More information on RSA Fellowship can be found here.
Your Fellowship status must be confirmed for your application to be eligible to be reviewed by the Catalyst panel. If you are unsure about your Fellowship status, please contact us. Our contact details can be found here.
For both the Small Grant and Scaling Grant, applications are made online here. Please note, you are unable to save draft copies of our online form. You may wish to prepare your answers in advance in another document beforehand, and copy them into the online form once complete.
- Your project must led by an RSA Fellow, who will be the main point of contact with the RSA.
- Your project should demonstrate clear impact and the potential to be sustained in the long term.
We prioritise projects that:
- Will be truly catalysed by our grant.
- Have the greatest potential to achieve measurable social impact.
- Offer a new solution to a pressing societal problem.
- Align to our main areas of work. These are Public Services and Communities, Creative Learning and Development, and Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing.
Further specific criteria for the Small Grant and Scaling Grant can be found below.
Catalyst funding is one way the RSA empowers Fellows to apply their creativity to bringing about positive social change.
Impact: We seek to fund projects that aim to have a positive impact on society. If you are applying for a Small Catalyst Grant, you may not yet know the full extent of the positive impact your idea could have but you should have at least an aim or a goal. The purpose of the small grant is to help you test your idea and help you gather evidence of its positive impact.
The Scaling Catalyst Grants aim to support an idea that has already been through the initial testing stages. There should be evidence that the idea works and that it meets a demand. When considering scaling grants, we look for ideas that have a clear connection to the RSA mission and our key areas of work. We are also looking for evidence that a project could increase its measurable positive social impact.
Sustainability: We seek to fund projects that aim to be sustainable, which means they can continue past the life of the Catalyst grant. Often projects or ideas cannot be continued due to external forces or unforeseen circumstances but we seek to fund projects that have a vision for sustaining their idea beyond the short term.
For the Scaling Grant, evidence of sustainability is a requirement. For the Small Grants, this should be considered more of a statement of intent.
What are the criteria for the Small £1-2k Grant?
The project must:
- Be new or in its early stages.
- Be in need of a financial boost to help it develop into a sustainable project.
- Align with the three key areas of the RSA work (We will always consider truly outstanding proposals that fall outside the scope of our three key themes).
Please see the section above for overall eligibility for all RSA Catalyst grants. If you are unsure if your project is suitable then contact your local Regional Manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To be eligible for the RSA Scaling Grant, your project must already be established and have proof of concept.
Proof of concept in this circumstance means that you have already tested your idea and that there is documented evidence that its potential product or service can be successful.
Your Scaling Grant application must be aligned to your wider strategy for growth. We would expect to see that you have plans for growth including a clearly identified market, reasons why this audience will purchase your service or product, and an understanding of the activities you need to conduct to take you to the next stage as well as the costs you will incur. If you have any key partners or collaborators, it would be useful to express these in your application.
Eligibility for the £10k Scaling Grant requires the RSA to have evidence that your project is structured in a way that supports your social aims and is governed as either:
1) A charity registered with the Charity Commission.
2) A Community Interest Company (A company which is set up with a clause that means it exists to benefit a community and not private shareholders).
3) An alternative governance structure to those listed above, but which is set up with a clause that means it exists to benefit a community and not private shareholders (for example a company limited by guarantee, or a limited company that has articles of association that limit the profit distribution to shareholders).
We offer a limited number of £10k grants and will award these to projects on which we feel our grant could have the greatest impact.
We will be adding a list of what can and cannot be funded through the grant to our website soon.
How long does the process take?
It takes approximately three months from application deadline to announcement of successful projects. Please take this into consideration when applying.
You will receive an email from us informing you whether or not you have been successful approximately three months after the application deadline. Further information about future Catalyst round will be posted on the website soon.
If you are successful in receiving a Catalyst award then you will receive an email from us to inform you of this approximately three months after the application deadline. You will then receive further information from us in the following couple of weeks, which will include details of your main point of contact within the RSA for the duration of your funding. For Small Grants you will receive an agreement, which you will have three months to complete and send back to us. If you do not complete and return this agreement within these three months, your award will become invalid and you will have to reapply.
Your main point of contact within the RSA will be your allocated manager, who will be able to discuss other opportunities for you to engage with the RSA and promote your project through the RSA platforms.
A member of the team will also contact you regarding the RSA communication process for announcing your award.
Yes. In the initial email from us you will receive further information regarding the RSA branding available to you.
If you think that you are no longer able to continue your project, or the project changes in a way that means you will need to significantly change the use of the funding, then please contact your allocated manager as soon as possible. They will be able to discuss the opportunities available to you.
In the event that you may need to return the funding, your allocated manager can discuss this process with you. If you do have to return your funding, you will still be eligible to apply for further funding in the future.
It’s natural that your project will change over time. That is true design-thinking. It's the natural evolution of projects and the iteration process. If you need to change how you allocate the funding from your initial application by £250 or more, then please contact your allocated manager.
To see some of our previous Catalyst award winners, feel free to browse our project pages.
There are a number of opportunities for you to get involved with the Catalyst funded projects. If you would like to join one of our scheduled programmes, which include further information about opportunities including mentoring, delivering an expert masterclass, writing an informative project focused blog, and supporting a crowdfunding campaign, please email email@example.com
Yes. We would expect you to have spent the funding within 12 months from the date of being awarded the funding. If you think you won’t spend the funding within this time then please wait until a future Catalyst round to apply.
In addition to Catalyst grants, the RSA also provides Fellows with support for crowdfunding and for utilising the expertise within the Fellowship to make your project a success. These options might be more appropriate to your project than Catalyst funding. For more information about our other opportunities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to application submission: You can find the criteria for the awards detailed above. If you feel your idea meets the necessary criteria and would like feedback prior to submitting your application, please contact your relevant Regional Manager. They may also be able to provide you with advice about other opportunities to promote your idea in your area, and connect you with other local Fellows.
After application submission: We do not provide feedback to applicants after the application process as a matter of course due to the sheer volume of applications we receive. If you have any questions about your application, please email email@example.com
As you can imagine, we have many applications for Catalyst grants. If you would like to talk through your application with a member of RSA staff, your first point of contact is your Regional Manager. To find their contact details, visit our In Your Area pages.
We do not accept any additional information to be considered by the panel. You may provide a link within the text of your application to a website or other online resources but the text of the application is all we ask our panel to consider when reviewing the applications.
There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for Catalyst, whether you have been successful or unsuccessful previously. A priority for Catalyst funding is given to new and innovative ideas. Therefore, be sure to show how your project fits this description when applying.
You can apply for the same project more than once. If you have previously been unsuccessful in your application to Catalyst, please refer to the criteria carefully to ensure you are a right fit for this funding. Although your project may not be right for Catalyst funding, there are other beneficial ways that you could engage with the RSA. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
No. It is not advised to apply for both awards simultaneously. If your project fulfils the Scaling Grant criteria then it is unlikely be applicable under the Small Grant criteria, and vice versa. If you have two projects that you are considering that fulfil the separate criteria then do consider whether you would have the capacity to deliver on both if they were to be successful.
No. We use an online system which does not allow you access to your application once submitted. We advise you to write your application in another offline document and save this for your own purposes. This is also a good idea so you can check that what you want to say fits the character limits and for any spelling or grammar errors.
The word limit is definite. Any words which exceed the limit you are provided will not be recorded and therefore will not be seen by the funding decision panel.
Catalyst is very popular. We award grants totalling approximately £100,000 each year, which means we fund between 2-5% of applications we receive each round. The key question the panel considers when making their decision on which projects to award is ‘On which project will Catalyst funding have most impact?’ so make sure the impact of the funding and how you are choosing to allocate it is explicit in your application. There are many ways other than funding to engage with the RSA if you have a project.
The RSA can support Fellow-led crowdfunding campaigns in a number of ways.
1)We offer online training webinars.
2)When you have started planning your crowdfunding campaign, we recommend you share your draft campaign with a Fellow that has previously crowdfunded a project, or with an FRSA for insights to improve strategy:
- Connect with Fellows that have used RSA crowdfunding through their campaign page on RSA Kickstarter.
3) If your campaign is aligned to the RSA’s aims, we can promote your campaign on our website, newsletter and social media accounts using content you give us.
Contact email@example.com for more information about crowdfunding publicity or any of the above.
- In order to be compliant with our charitable status the RSA does not financially support FRSA crowdfunding campaigns, or tell its Fellows to do so.
- RSA staff do not offer individual mentoring for campaigns but you can connect with our network of Fellows for guidance.
- The RSA will only coordinate crowdfunding support with the RSA Fellow leading the campaign at all stages of development and publicity.
- The RSA cannot guarantee that RSA Fellows will support a Fellow-led crowdfunding campaign as a result of our training and additional publicity.
The Catalyst process is managed by the Fellowship team within the RSA and the ultimate decision on which projects to fund is made by an expert panel of RSA Fellows. More details abou the Catalyst process, the Catalyst panel and opportunities to join the panel will be posted on the website soon.
No. Catalyst is just one of the ways you can engage with the RSA to promote your project or to get support from other RSA Fellows. To sign up your project, and find out about other ways to engage with the RSA, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to find out opportunities to pitch your project at an event in your local area, contact your Regional Manager. If you would like to run your own event based around your project, take a look at our Fellowship Event Guide.
If you would like to report a problem or make a complaint about the Catalyst process, please email email@example.com.