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BMABA Club Grants Programme (CGP)
BMABA Club Grants Programme (CGP)

Your guide to our community grants, including application and funding.

Updated over a week ago


The BMABA Club Grants Programme aims to put cash payments and crucial benefit in kind provisions back into the pocket of UK independent martial arts clubs under our banner, with a focus on creating long-term sustainable impact on grassroots participation, tackling key social issues and transforming the UK martial arts landscape for the better.

As a social enterprise we've always stood firmly behind the notion of ensuring BMABA is financially viable in its own right and independent from any third party support. That's lucky, as we've never recieved any support from Sport England or any other funding bodies, despite our broad range of industry leading work in grassroots participation and safeguarding!

Following our huge financial support package provided at BMABA's own expense during COVID, designed to provide free student cover and/or membership extensions to all clubs during lockdown, we saw the profound impact our financial 'muscle' could have for the benefit of the independent martial arts market. This was especially highlighted in stark contrast to the non-existent help that failed to arise from UK Sporting Agencies such as Sport England and so on for almost all non-NGB clubs.

With this in mind, in 2023 we BETA tested a new grants programme, offering up to an initial £500 cash grant payment with the possibility of long-term £6,000 annual funding support for long-term projects and causes. Following a hugely successful test of software and processes in March 2024, the BMABA Club Grants Programme was launched.

How It Works

For the most part, BMABA will provide a direct cash (BACS) payment to the nominated club bank account for the monetary value awarded, up to £500 for the Grants Scheme. Alternatively, we will also provide benefits in kind if it's deemed to be of the greatest impact. Benefits in kind could include grants for technology provisions (such as websites and software), the direct purchase of equipment and kit, or something else as deemed appropriate by the executive panel.

Clubs will need to formally apply, outlining how much they require, why its needed and how it will make an impact at local club level.

At the close of each month, the BMABA Executive Team and trustees will assess and award funding to a select handful of applications. The decision making process is outlined fully below.

After the grant has been paid to the club (or the benefit in kind grant has been provisioned) the process is complete and the club may not re-apply for atleast 12 months thereafter.

BMABA will ask for feedback from the club as to impact and reach, and we may specify that you must show the 'Funded by BMABA' emblem on your website for up to 12 months also.

If clubs are not successful in their funding bid, they will be able to re-submit the same application each month without any further need to re-submit in full or they may restart their application to refine its contents, or to target a new area of funding.

Where Does Funding Come From?

All funds provided to clubs are from our direct revenue raised. We do not receive a penny of financial support from any Government organisation, DCMS, Sport England, Sport Wales, Sport Scotland, Sport NI, UK Sports, SCiMA nor any other charities, individuals or funding bodies. It is entirely taken from our 'profits' - the revenue left after we've paid the association's fees, costs and obligations, as part of our rock-solid commitment to re-investing into back into our community.

Who We Will Fund

We will fund any BMABA member that;

  • Has been registered for atleast 6 months

  • Is fully paid up and not in arrears (if paying monthly)

  • Has no outstanding disciplinary matters, reviews or investigations

  • Has not been in receipt of a yellow card in the past 9 months

  • Has not been successfully awarded a grant of some form from BMABA in the prior 12 months

There are some more nuanced terms for specific funds, but these are straight forward and relate to the type of grant you apply for.

What We Will Fund

As demand vastly outstrips supply every month, we're very considered and targeted about what we will and won't fund. Sadly, lots of very worth-while applications for funding will need to be declined on a monthly basis purely because of the overwhelming volume of great causes and impacts applying for support. To try and streamline how we classify funds, we've broken down what we will fund into four categories;

Club Development Fund

The Club Development Fund (CDF) is primarily designed to help clubs expand. It doesn't hinge on purely charitable outcomes, but we do expect clubs to grow in a way that is supportive to the local community and also in a way that ensures atleast 1 student in 30 is provisioned a charitable space free of charge under our Fighting Chance Scholarship Programme for up to 18 months following on from a grant.

There's no mandatory requirement to force the funded student space, but we would expect you to advertise the opportunity for a means-tested placement so it is available should the need exist in the community. If somebody comes forward who meets the eligibility, you will be obligated to permit free training within your club for the 18 month duration of the agreement subject to the standard process for the Scholarship Programme. Your club has the final vote in this, so you won't be forced to accept somebody you do not feel is appropriate however we will scrutinise the decision. BMABA will cover the cost of any uniform and insurances on an 'at cost' basis. If nobody eligible comes forward, you are not obliged to provide any free training and there is no further obligation upon your club.

In exchange for providing us with the scholarship provision, you're free to use the funds as you wish. This may be the purchase of equipment, kitting out an office, purchasing new computer equipment and printers, contributions toward the cost of a company vehicle, buying new mats - it's entirely up to you.

The only exception is that the funds can not be used to pay for salaries, wages, dividends or other direct income to the owners of the club. We also won't cover operational costs - like marketing, advertising, outsourced agents (like social media agencies) and so on. It has to be 'capital investment' - cash that goes toward purchasing 'larger' things that will make a more profound one-off impact to the club, rather than things like advertising which should be a long-term recurring budget spend.

It can be used to fund freelance or external instructors, examiners and referees subject to specific guidelines and our 'what we won't fund' criteria listed below.

Emergency Club Funding

Much as the term suggests, this is designed to help support clubs in crisis. It can be used to provide emergency financial relief where, for example, the threat of closure looms due to unexpected circumstances such as a venue being closed abruptly, or the long term sickness of a key instructor thus reducing class schedules.

There's no specific definition of what constitutes an emergency but we would expect clubs to be in acute financial distress. Crucially, they must be able to demonstrate that any funding received would see the club likely to stand a reasonable chance of surviving the medium to long term, provided the acute issue at hand can be resolved or overcome.

The ECF is not to fund clubs which we deem to be non-viable financially, or in financial distress due to a lack of investment, advertising or entrepreneurial input, so the executive team will be looking for specific, direct issues that have caused emergency, short-term difficulties.

Inclusion & Charitable Activities

Our BMABA Fighting Chance Foundation is looking to make as bigger impact as possible within our targeted areas of society. These are linked to our charitable programmes, which are;

  • #PunchLikeAGirl - A campaign aimed at getting more women and girls onto the mats and into dojos, as well as aiming to provide specialist female self protection skills and workshops.

  • MANTRA - A campaign aimed at tackling the rising epidemic of male mental health and suicide, using martial arts as a tool to get guys talking more, and opening up on the pressures they face from day to day.

  • #DitchTheBlade - A campaign that raises awareness of and works to tackle the huge social issue of knife crime. This campaign also targets serious youth violence, working to help children in poverty and those at risk of exploitation through structured martial arts and positive role models.

  • Inclusive Martial Arts - A campaign aimed at making martial arts more accessible, by promoting specialist inclusion coaching to make coachings and instructors more aware, and more capable of tackling the issue. The campaign also aims to make clubs more accessible to those with physical and mental disabilities.

  • Reboot - A campaign focused on helping active and past service people reintegrate into civilian life, focusing on dealing with any post traumatic stress based on upon a therapeutic mix of martial arts and qualified therapy.

  • Scholarship Programme - Our flagship programme, aimed at providing funded spots in classes for young people growing up in poverty. Offering a lifeline into the stability, discipline and character building classes that are martial arts, the Scholarship Programme works to help children escape poverty through martial arts, and for those most gifted, go on to a funded instructor placement too.

Any community or club level programme you have that links into any one (or more) of these key areas is of interest to us. This could be, but is by no means limited to;

  • Offering free self defence workshops for Mum's & Daughters, focusing on practical self defence.

  • Opening up your gym for one hour per week to create a safe space just for men, with a focus on getting guys to open up and share.

  • A class within a youth centre, which is working with children at risk of knife crime and/or living in poverty, using martial arts a method for change.

These are just a handful of examples. If you can link up funding bids (for example, the above example leading into a Scholarship placement within your main club) we're especially interested. With this type of funding, we're looking for long-term social change and the biggest 'bang for our buck' in terms of immediate social impact.

Misc Funding

If your project doesn't fit within any of the above three categories, you can file a Miscellaneous funding application. We place these applications under much more scrutiny as it sits outside of our core channels of focus, but we can and do fund projects that don't have a home in the other categories.

A good example is a £750 grant (over two months) to cover a research paper exploring the impact of sexual abuse within Muay Thai.

As in this example, rigorous assessment of academic qualification was undertaken to ensure the research and funding was properly utilised, and it was conditional on BMABA being in receipt of the research on conclusion but we were happy to fund this under the Misc funding route.

What Won't We Fund

We will have sole discretion on whether or not an application falls within or outside of our core funding remits. We generally specify that;

All successful funding applications should clearly demonstrate to a reasonable person a net positive contribution to;

> Society generally
> The local community in which the club is based
> The BMABA's core community aims, including that of promoting safe, professional martial arts and ensuring more people get into independent grassroots martial arts.

Whilst there is no definitive list of what we won't fund, here are a few examples;

  • Non-BMABA Competitions: We receive dozens of requests for funding to help clubs attend external competitions and events. It's one of our biggest frustrations. Not at the club, but at the external NGB or association that has chosen to host an event in a distant country and has imposed huge travel and attendance fees upon often socially challenged areas and communities. Far too often we find association's could set up shop in a local conference centre and board their members at the local Premier Inn, but instead opt for 5 star hotels on warmer shores! We won't fund any requests for travel, sponsorship, fundraising or any other general costs that assist clubs in attending non-BMABA competitions, events or tournaments.

  • Salaries, Dividends & Profits: We won't fund anything that's likely to contribute toward profits of a business, cash reserves of any club (even not for profit), any salaries, wages or dividends, any out of pocket expenses and anything else that could be considered to be aiding the commercial output of a club or business. Our grants are extremely limited, so we have to focus on charitable and social investment - not commercial.

  • Insurance, Core Essentials, Association Related Costs & NGB Fees: We won't fund anything that is likely to be considered an essential or core check. For example, we won't fund DBS checks, first aid training, coaching qualifications, insurance bills, association memberships or any sort of NGB / Association outsourced services - like paying for a grading examiner to conduct a dan grading.

  • Competitive Events - We won't fund any competitive events or tournaments, especially where it includes semi or full-contact sparring.

  • Anything Religious, Political, Prejudice or otherwise Sensitive: This could include any workshops, programmes or funding bids for anything exclusively provisioned to a particular religion, class, race, gender and so on. We also won't fund anything politically motivated, anything prejudice or anything otherwise deemed to be divisive or sensitive in nature. This is judged at our discretion. The limited funds we have are designed to encourage positive social change and community cohesion, so we won't consider anything that may challenge that.

How We Decide On Funding

Applications close at the end of the calendar month. We then review submissions in c. 14-20 business days thereafter, meaning a decision is usually made by the middle of the following month.

For example, if you apply on 5th January, all January applications are considered after month end. It usually takes around 14 days (c. 14th February) to review all applications, and a decision is made within 5 working day so that point. This means you'll usually hear about successful applications within around 20 days from the month end, if not sooner.

We will assess the criteria 'blindly', meaning those looking at applications won't see club or instructor names, nor will they have access to any identifying information; such as gender, race, age, style and so on.

We will be looking to find applications that meet the specified target outlined above in the funding categories, and we'll be collectively discussing the merits, challenges and drawbacks of each application and the intended use of funding.

If a majority agree on shortlisting an application, it will be moved forward to the final stage. At this point, all shortlisted applications will be reviewed once more by the team 3 working days later. You won't be told if you're shortlisted.

In order to grant funding applications, we need to have a majority agreement in favour of a proposed funding grant. Where there are more shortlisted applications than supply, we will need the executive team and trustees to agree upon those that will be ultimately successful within the available funding window.

When we have a collective decision, we will award the grants as we see fit. This may be the full grant amount asked for, an offer of a benefit in kind (if we feel it is more impactful) or a partial funding grant.

We won't be able to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications due to the sheer scale of applications we receive, nor will we necessarily be able to give bespoke or unique feedback on successful applications, as we need to keep applications within the process to ensure you receive funds promptly.

The decision of the panel - whether that be just the executive team or the trustees, or both, depending on availability, is final. There is no ability to appeal, but you may re-apply for the following month's grant if you are unsuccessful.

Application & Funding Terms & Conditions

All applications and any subsequent funding is strictly bound to our application & funding terms and conditions, specified below;

  • All instructors or clubs applying for the Grant need to hold the BMABA Club Colours Award. This is a free process that can be explored in full here.

  • The Application & Funding Terms and Conditions shall also be considered in conjunction with our overall terms of membership, terms of service and legal policy, available here.

  • All applications and funding are subject to clubs meeting our on-going safeguarding guidelines, best practice guidelines, essentials checklist and meeting any current or new on-going requirements in terms of compliance, legality or best practice.

  • All applications must be entered factually and accurately. Any application found to be entered deliberately falsely will result in an immediate red card under our disciplinary process, and any funds awarded will be due back immediately.

  • If during any application you make specific reference to, assurance of or confirm any specific action, impact or guarantee, we will expect that condition to be met in order for funds to be awarded. This is because this may be considered a material disclosure which may impact our decision making process. For example, if you specific tell us you will use £450 to teach 30 people a workshop and funds are awarded, and only 10 people attend, we will expect a pro-rata refund of the appropriate amount. For this reason it's very important you are realistic, honest and accurate in any projected impact, numbers and ideas. We need realistic planning - not 'best case guesswork'.

  • If any material disclosure is not made to us at the of the application and it subsequently transpires, at our sole determination, that you have misled, falsified or otherwise dishonestly obtained funding from BMABA, we will expect an immediate refund of the full monetary value of any goods provisioned, or of any cash transacted.

  • Any fraudulent applications will be reported as Fraud to the Police, and relevant members banned from BMABA.

  • All funding decisions, including the allocation of funds, benefit in kind or any other form of award will be solely at the discretion of BMABA. There is no guaranteed funding available at any time and the grant programme is offered, administered and provisioned without warranty or guarantee, and no member club is assured of or entitled to funding. It is provided by BMABA based upon availability, on the perceived merit of the application which is assessed fairly and without bias.

  • Anyone successfully awarded funding will be expected to display a 'funded by BMABA' or similar type logo, which is to show some or all funding for a particular project has arisen from BMABA's charitable activities. We may specify that this logo should be on material prints (if relevant) but as a minimum, it will be required on literature and digital assets (such as websites and flyers etc) for up to 12 months after an award. If it is found that such insignia is not displayed, or is removed before the 12 month period, we reserve the right to immediately rescind funding or benefits in kind.

  • Any club paying monthly for membership, if successful, will be required to complete the full remaining term of membership. Should the club fail to meet this obligation, both or either funding and/or membership fees due may become repayable in full.

  • Any club that successfully applies to and is granted funding within 3 months of expiry must ensure the 'funded by BMABA' insignia remains in place for the 12 month duration, regardless of whether or not they renew with BMABA. Any club who's project will take them beyond their renewal date, or in the case of what we would consider on-going projects (such as emergency funding and/or club development funds) it would be expected that the club will continue with BMABA membership for atleast one more year, even if on the nominal membership level without cover, to see out any feedback period and/or delivery obligations.

  • Within 6 months of the award date we'll ask you to submit an online feedback form to help us understand what difference your project made, how the funding helped, and how we can make a bigger impact in the future. You are obliged and required to do this. It is not optional. Any club that fails to complete this within 28 days of receipt without prior authorisation will be subject to funding being due back.

  • If successful with any funding bid, even if only partially awarded, the club or any linked person may not re-apply within a 12 month window thereafter.

  • Funding applications are only open to paying, 'premium' members of BMABA. Membership level and amount of membership fees payable has zero impact on eligibility or likelihood of funding - but we reserve the right to apply to those who pay to be a member as part of the cycle of you giving to us, and helping us to give back to you and your fellow clubs.

  • Clubs may only ever have one active application at any one time. This means, for example, if a club has the lead instructor submitting an application and also a club volunteer or administrator submitting a supporting application, or an application for a different area of funding, all applications will be completely voided and any funds awarded will be due back to BMABA, as this could otherwise prejudice a fair 'one club, one entry' rule designed to stop larger clubs monopolising the funding pool.

What We'll Need From You

To protect the very limited amount of funding we have available to clubs, we employ a strict application process which ensures clubs can be considered side by side in direct comparison as best possible.

We would like to stress that we would ideally fund 85% of all applications received, as this is the volume of applications we consider to be appropriate, well thought out and in need of funds. Unfortunately we end up funding less than 3% in terms of the sheer volumes demanding funds and support.

Please note that if you apply and do not already hold the BMABA Club Colours Award (this is entirely free) we will unfortunately have to automatically decline the application. You can learn more and apply online from here.

Please note that if you apply and do not already hold the BMABA Club Colours Award (this is entirely free) we will unfortunately have to automatically decline the application.

During the application, depending on the funding category you're applying for, we'll ask;

  • What the funds are being used for, how the funding would help, how it will be spent and what the greater impact on the club and the community might look like.

This part of the application is for you to consider and answer in as much 'human' detail as possible. We want to understand why you need the funding and what sort of real impact it might make for your club. What does that mean to your students, and how might it improve grassroots martial arts through you?

In terms of the 'core details' of the application (known as our KYC) we'll ask for;

  • The legal structure, name and (where appropriate) registration number for the business

  • Details of a bank account to receive money if successful

  • Details on who's making the application

  • The club's monthly turnover, expenditure, salaries, cash reserves, debt, payroll quantity and student base.

We don't judge clubs to be too big or too small, or too 'rich' or too 'poor' - these figures just help us understand the viability of your plan. If you ask for £500 for a company van and only have £40 in the bank, we know the van is unlikely to happen with our funding! Likewise, if you have monthly profits of £20,000, we might question how £500 will help buy new computers - but we wouldn't consider this an issue if you're wanting to put together a new scholarship fund, for example.

You won't be judged either way; there's no right or wrong, so please answer these questions carefully and accurate.

Falsifying this information will be considered fraud. We will not only expel members found to be deliberately defrauding BMABA but we'll also report you to relevant authorities if we believe the deception is deliberate and calculated.

Funding Application Tips

  • Remember, we receive substantially more applications than we could ever fund. Almost all of them are deserving of financial help or benefits in kind, but it's simply not possible for us to do so.

  • Given how limited funding is, it's crucial you keep your application concise, on-point and honest. Help us to see the immediate and also the long-term impact, and make sure it's emotive and 'human' to keep the team connected.

  • Help us to see the long-term vision, and how it might impact your community. You should also provide any statistics or metrics that might help us make an informed decision; such as stats on childhood poverty in your locality if this is the area of funding you are applying for.

  • Take your time to fill in the application properly, making sure the details submitted are accurate and complete.

  • Make sure any media submitted (such as images or videos) carry full permissions to be shared nationally, and are of a high quality.

  • Funding is extremely limited, so please take some time before applying to really think about what would be the most impactful way of us supporting you and your club, as you won't be able to re-apply if successful for 12 months.

  • TOP TIP! Do you need the full £500? If you're planning a weekend workshop over four weeks for a charitable scheme and it will cost £350, or you desperately need a Century Bob for £400, ask for what you need. We fund multiple applications every month but funding is tight, so we often 'suck up' lots of sub-£500 applications with multiple grants.

  • We'll ask for a spending breakdown post-success, so please don't take more than you need and then not spend it as specified!

Applying For Funding

You should apply for funding online. We can't accept funding requests by email, webchat or phone. You will be asked to complete a quick anonymous questionnaire before entering the application form. This is used to help us continue to build crucial industry metrics. It is not linked to your account or application and has zero bearing on any decision to award funds.

After Applying

Once you've applied you should receive an immediate email receipt from the system. Within c. 30 minutes of applying, if you head to your instructor portal, under 'Grants' (often hidden under the '...' menu) you should see your logged application.

If you click into this application, you'll see a brief summary of the data provided. It doesn't include the full application summary but it does confirm the bank account details given (not including the account number or sort code) and some of the key financials.

The two crucial fields to watch are as highlighted below - the Status and Decision Date.

There are four stages to the application life-cycle;

PENDING REVIEW - This is the default state shown after applying, and just shows that your application has not yet been formally assessed.

IN-REVIEW - This is the state used when the application is being considered. It doesn't always go through 'in-review' but if we shortlist the application for further review, or need to revert back for clarity on any information, it may move to this stage.

DECLINED - Declined will be the stage the application moves to if, unfortunately, your application is not successful.

APPROVED - This will be applied if you have been awarded some or all of the funding, or if the team are going to be reaching out with a benefit in kind offer of help. If your application moves to APPROVED and you haven't heard from us, please do reach out to us.

We review applications typically within c. 14 days of the month closing. For example, if you apply on 5th January, all January applications are considered after month end. It usually takes around 14 days (c. 14th February) to review all applications, and a decision is made within 5 working day so that point. This means you'll usually hear about successful applications within around 20 days from the month end, if not sooner.

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