We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.  ~ John W Gardner


The aim of the Awards, in line with Stephen’s own approach, is to help create success by finding and nurturing innovative ideas and projects that can lead to practical, sustainable social change. The Awards are particularly interested in supporting novel, early stage ideas that address social problems at a systemic level.  These are essentially ‘big ideas’ that might not, or cannot, reach the mainstream channels for support or funding.

The heart of the Awards is the bringing together of experts that can deliver practical, free support to shortlisted candidates as well as Award winners. In addition, funding of £25,000 will be made available to support Award winners in developing their initiatives. At the shortlist stage the Awards will make up to ten awards of up to £2,500 to assist candidates to further develop their ideas.

Ideas may come in many forms. They may be a new start-up enterprise or an extension of an organisation’s existing work; however, preference will be given to entries originating from a start-up or early stage project, rather than initiated within a larger charity organisation.  They might be a discrete piece of lobbying work or a high profile campaign; the aim might be to change policy or legislation or to create a new legal form or financial structure, for example.

Who Can Apply?

Anyone resident in the UK, or any organisation or charity established in the UK that has an innovative idea seeking to address a problem systemically, can apply.

All projects must be for exclusively charitable purposes (according to the laws of England and Wales).

We accept applications from:

1.1. UK charities running projects in the UK.
1.2. UK charities that will run or oversee and take responsibility for a project abroad.
1.3. Other established UK non-profit and social enterprise entities that will run or oversee and take responsibility for a project in the UK or abroad.
1.4. Individuals resident in the UK who are in the process of establishing a UK charity, non-profit or social enterprise, which will receive any grant awarded and oversee the relevant project.

In order for an application to proceed to the next stage, we may need to carry out due diligence work. If we make a grant to a UK-based individual or non-charitable organisation in relation to a project abroad, we are likely to require a higher degree of monitoring and reporting than we might otherwise require.

If an application wins a Stephen Lloyd Award and involves the establishment of a UK charity to receive the grant and administer the payments, any grant awarded will only be paid once that charity has been registered.

If you have previously applied to the Awards, you may re-apply provided you have not applied more than three times over the last five years.

Who Cannot Apply?

We do not accept applications from individuals resident outside the UK or organisations registered or located outside the UK.

Applications Overview

We would like to understand what the innovation is and why it is needed, alongside evidence of need and an explanation of the impact you will have, if you are successful. We would also like to know about your track record, what you need for the idea to succeed and more importantly, how you think the Awards’ community may be able to assist you.  Applications to the 2024 Awards closed on 5th April.  The Awards will re-open in February 2025.

Online Application Form Guidance

The Awards entry is submitted through an online application form. To help you organise your answers for the application form, it is recommended that you prepare and save in advance a separate document outlining your answers, before submitting the form. Or, you can use the ‘Save and Continue’ option at the very bottom of the application form page.

Apart from the first section requesting general information, the form is structured into three main sections (using the “Situation, Complication, Solution” approach) which will be key to presenting your idea. Click here for some basic guidance on this.

We would also like to learn a little more about the individual or team invested into the project. A one or two line background information on the team can be included in the application.

Where relevant, please include recent accounts and governing documents as attachments.

You are also welcome to upload one additional page of references and links to relevant supporting materials, which further supports your idea, or illustrates the work you have been doing.

Any queries in relation to the form should be sent to [email protected] marked for the attention of Mona Rahman.

Application Acceptance Period

The 2024 Awards programme received new submission entries from 1 February 2024.  Applications closed at midnight on 5th April 2024.

Assessment Process 

Following the closing date, the assessment process occurs in two stages.

The first stage involves scoring the application on the following criteria: innovation, systems change,  direct impact, evidence and how the grant funding will eventually be budgeted and used.  The individual or team’s position to achieve social impact will also be examined, along with their potential to benefit from the Award’s wider network of partners.

The second stage involves shortlisting applicants for interviews, based on the overall scores resulting from the above initial assessment. The interviews are by invitation only.

The initial review, scoring and longlisting period takes place between 15 April -10 May 2024.

The 2024 Awards timeline is as follows:

• 1 February – Awards open for new entries
• 5 April (11:59pm) – Deadline for online submissions
• 15 April – 10 May – Initial Review and Scoring Period
• 29 & 30 May – Interviews (by invitation onlyPlease note these dates cannot be changed.)
• 10 June – Finalists Announced
• 10 July – Awards Finale Event, to decide the winners (6.00-9.30pm)


Selection for interviews are by invitation only, following the initial assessment and longlisting process. We would expect around 20 applicants to proceed to the interview stage.  Interviews will be conducted over two whole days (29 and 30 May).  The interviews are an opportunity for applicants to explain their idea in more depth, discuss any needs and enthuse the selection review panel. Interviewees will be informed within a few days after the interview, as to whether or not they have been successful in moving onto the next stage of the application process – Finalist’s Development Phase.

Please note – these interview dates of 29 and 30 May cannot be changed, so please keep both days free in your diary.

Finalist’s Development Phase

We expect the interview process to result in a final shortlist of up to 10 candidates. The interviews will identify areas where finalists may benefit most from, working up a full plan/application, conducting additional research and building a community of support.

This phase will last for around four to five weeks, in the lead up to the Final Awards’ Evening. Wherever possible, members of the Awards’ community of partners will be identified to support applicants over that period.

We will also grant up to £2,500 per finalist during this phase, if a need is demonstrated, which will help them work their way towards their presentation at a live judging event in central London.

Presentations at Final Awards Event – 10 July 

At the end of the Development Phase, finalists will present to the Awards’ network at an evening event on 10 July 2024.  The audience’s votes, together with the trustees’ votes, decides the winner or winners of the Awards. Success depends on the applicants convincing the attendees of the value and prospects of their idea or project.

The winners’ prize will be a funding grant of £25,000, although exceptions may be made.  Funding is subject to the approval of the Trustees of the Bates Wells Foundation, whereby the project seeks to advance its charitable purposes as originally presented.

Even if finalists are not granted an award, our aim is that the process along the way (i.e. the interview, development and presentation phases) will help our finalists to further their aims and bring them into contact with experts who may nevertheless support them.

The finale event will take place on the evening of 10th July 2024.

Connections with Award Partners

Throughout the Awards process, Finalists may have opportunities to liaise with different partners of the Bates Wells Foundation (including those listed on the Awards’ Partners page), who may offer pro bono professional support and assistance. For example, the professional needs of shortlisted applicants are listed on the website; attendees at the Final Awards Event will be invited to write “pledge cards” agreeing to provide particular assistance to finalists, in line with their areas of expertise. The Foundation endeavours to support applicants to network with partners and obtain such assistance, to help them to further charitable purposes. However, the Foundation and the Awards cannot guarantee a particular amount or duration of support from its partners, and this is something which applicants are encouraged to discuss in advance with any supporters, when the offer of support is initially made.

Decisions Final

Decisions made in relation to the Awards by a judging selection panel and the Trustees of the Bates Wells Foundation are final and not subject to appeal.

Who’s Who?

Bates Wells Foundation is the charity that manages the Awards.  The trustees are Stephanie Biden (Chair), Lorna Lloyd, Evelyn Smith, Chetal Patel, Jim Clifford OBE, Peter Bennett and Martin Bunch. Its charity number is 1150321. 

The Awards programme is led by Mona Rahman, Bates Wells Foundation Projects Manager.

Awards’ network of supporters are partners who have committed support, either financially or through pro bono work. You can find a list of awards supporters here.