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Third sector fund to inspire sustainable living

London 2012 stadium - image from London 2012Defra is providing seed funding in 2010/11 for third sector organisations to put in place projects designed to encourage and enable individuals and communities to adopt more sustainable behaviours to 2012 and beyond – using the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games as a way of reaching hard to engage groups.

The “third sector” includes any non-governmental or non-commercial, value-driven organisations that principally reinvest any financial surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives.

Why are we doing this?

Olympic park and stadium - artist's impression - image from London 2012Sustainability lies at the heart of every stage of the Games programme. From the design and planning stages to the construction and legacy of the Games, the principle ambitions are to set new benchmarks in sustainability, inspire people to make positive lifestyle changes, and maximise the long-term social, environmental and economic impact of the Games to Londoners and the UK. We want to use the Games to help people and communities see that adopting pro-environmental behaviours is neither terrifying nor impossible but achievable.  

How much is available?

The minimum award will be £100,000 (with a maximum award of £200,000) and between 4 and 8 separate projects will be funded.

How to apply

We are using a two stage approach in the application procedure because we know that resources are tight in the third sector and do not want organisations to waste them on the heavy commitment that a full application would entail.

As a first stage, we are only asking third sector organisations to set out their concept, explaining what could be delivered, if they had the funding.

  • The closing date for this first phase is 21 May 2010, and applicants will know if they have been shortlisted by early July 2010.
  • 10-12 applicants will be shortlisted and invited to a workshop in early July and will then be asked to submit a full project plan.
  • We expect the delivery partners to work to start in September 2010.
  • Although seed corn funding will end in March 2011, we will aim to provide other forms of support to help projects deliver. The impetus provided by the funding and the other support should enable delivery partners to continue delivery to 2012 and beyond.

To register your interest please go to:

You can register now, and the documents will be available shortly.


Olympic park - artist's impression - image from London 2012Projects should use the seed corn funding to start delivery and build their capacity to put in place activities that should be operational in the run up to the London 2012 Games and beyond. The activities can take place anywhere in UK and potentially catalyse sustainable behaviours, under one or more of the following themes:  

  • Active travel (walking and cycling more)
  • Sustainable consumption – e.g. eco products or local and seasonal food
  • Greener gardens/local areas
  • More efficient resource use – particularly energy and water
  • Waste less – recycle more.

Whilst we are interested in a variety of projects spanning these themes, selection will be on quality grounds and not by criteria and the proposals must be directly related to, and use the inspiration of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to encourage people to change their environmental behaviour. This does not necessarily mean that projects need to be sports related. 

Projects will need to tailor their approach to reach and engage specific population groups. Bidders can work with their existing audience/ target groups, however we would also encourage bidders to either work with one or more of the Defra environmental segments or to make an assessment of how their target audience group relates to these segments.

Projects must fall into one or more of the categories identified below.

  • Where current take-up rates of an environmental behaviour are low, but opportunities exist to widen the mandate for taking action by inspiring individuals to take action through the Games
  • There is the potential to increase the momentum of change through the Games.  For example, if take-up of an environmental behaviour has levelled off, but new interventions could trigger a step change and increase take-up rates amongst certain segments or population groups, or indeed increase the level of behaviour that is adopted.
  • Acceptability is low amongst certain members/groups of society, but through the Games, opportunities might exist to reach previously “disengaged” groups, where for example there is currently low acceptability and willingness to act; or where evidence suggests that experiencing a new behaviour inspired through the Games may increase acceptability and willingness.
  • There is the potential to extend adoption of behaviours through working with new audience groups who may already be engaged in specific activities related to the Games (for example through the volunteer network).

There will be scope for organisations to scale-up existing activities, however where this is the case they must clearly demonstrate additionality within their programme of work.

Page last modified: 29 March 2010
Page published: 29 March 2010