Back to top

Catalyst: Small grants, big difference

The Catalyst Programme awards up to £500 to people on low incomes to pay for opportunities that make a difference. It is a simple, special and effective programme that can be designed to support absolutely anyone.

In Islington, Catalyst was set up in 2009, funded by Cripplegate Foundation and then Cloudesley in 2011. It was expanded in 2016 and 2018 with funding from Islington Giving and Sir John Cass’s Foundation. Together they fund 20 Catalyst partners in the borough to award Catalyst grants to people they work with.

Our evidence shows that small Catalyst grants unlock potential and increase wellbeing in people and provide partner organisations with a different and positive offer to those they support.

Sharing learning

From 10 years of running Catalyst Programmes, we wanted to share learning that can be used by other funders, voluntary organisations, commissioners, and businesses. The Catalyst Programme doesn't involve lots of rules, so it could be a useful framework for changing lives in other parts of the country. 

This report, published in May 2019, outlines: 

  • Basic features of Catalyst
  • Who is involved in a Catalyst Programme
  • Advice on how to establish a Catalyst Programme
  • Benefits and challenges for people, partners, and funders
  • Examples of how it helps people

You can download some shareable social cards here (like the one below) that highlight some of the key features of the Programme, and can help people thinking about replication.

Sharing stories

In order to best explain Catalyst, we commissioned a short film featuring 3 people whose lives have changed with Catalyst funding. 

We would like to thank all 20 Catalyst partners for their continued commitment to supporting local people, and for their input into these learning resources.