Closed Fund

Rural Recovery Fund 2021

Closing Date
In partnership with:

Supporting rural communities to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and to build resilience for future challenges

The true scale of the COVID-19 crisis will only be revealed as we move forward into the recovery period. The devastating impact of the pandemic is likely to last for years to come. Failure to understand and respond to these challenges risks leading to deeper inequality throughout the next decade. To combat this, significant investment and intervention is required. Economic disadvantage, lack of job and educational opportunities and social isolation are some of the most crucial challenges facing rural Ireland.

This is why we have created the Rural Recovery Fund. This is a one year €600,000 fund created by Rethink Ireland with support from and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. The objective of the Fund is to support projects working with communities in rural Ireland that focus on recovery and resilience, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can apply to the Rural Recovery Fund via the online application form from Thursday 21st October 2021 to Friday 19th November at 5 pm.


The Rural Recovery Fund will provide a package of awards and supports to innovative not-for-profit organisations that are working to increase their impact in supporting rural communities to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and build resilience for future challenges. It will provide tailored support to solutions that are already seeing clear social impact.

There will be up to 5 awards available in total, and each Awardee will receive a cash grant (to a maximum of €80,000),  mentoring support and placement on Rethink Ireland’s Accelerator programme.


This fund is open to organisations that have a not-for-profit legal form, e.g. charity, social enterprise and other voluntary organisations.

Eligibility & Criteria

Projects must meet both Rethink Ireland’s criteria and the specific criteria for the Rural Recovery Fund, as set out below:

Rethink Ireland Criteria

  • The project must address a critical social issue
  • The project proposed must be innovative in an Irish context
  • The project must be based on the island of Ireland and must make its main impact in the Republic of Ireland
  • The project must have potential and a desire to scale or replicate in Ireland (it may also have potential internationally, but this is not a requirement)
  • The project must provide evidence that it is up and running, or has been tested at least in a minimal way
  • Applicants must come from an entity that has a not-for-profit legal form, eg:
    • A company limited by guarantee
    • A co-operative
    • Charity
    • And other not for profit legal forms

Rural Recovery Fund Core Criteria

  • Projects must be based in a rural setting or aim to significantly improve their impact in rural areas:
    • Re-skilling/upskilling/diversifying the labour force,
    • Economic and social inclusion of marginalised communities,
    • Job creation in rural areas (including supporting social enterprises to grow their operations)
    • Equal access to education for rural communities,
    • Digital inclusion for all (closing the digital divide).
  • The applicant must not be a public body. Collaborations with public bodies, where the main applicant(s) are community or third sector projects, can be considered for funding

Advantageous criteria

  • Projects that are not headquartered in Urban areas
  • Projects that work with any of the following groups;
  • Traveller and Roma people
  • Migrant people, (including people in need of international protection)
  • People in the asylum process,
  • People from minority ethnic communities

Which projects cannot apply?
Projects that are not eligible to apply are:

  • Research projects
  • Projects seeking funding for capital assets (such as buildings, vans or equipment)
  • Projects promoting or aligned with a political party
  • Projects that only accept participants of a particular faith or religious denomination
  • Projects focused on animal welfare
  • Projects based outside the Republic of Ireland
  • Projects led by people under 18 years of age
  • Projects that are an idea (only) and that have not yet started
  • Projects providing scholarships or subsistence payments

Which applicants cannot apply?
Applicants that are not eligible to apply are:

  • Applicants under 18 years of age
  • Commercial companies
  • Rethink Ireland staff, directors and their immediate family members
  • Any philanthropic donors supporting this fund
  • Individuals, statutory or public bodies, local development companies, LEADER companies, companies limited by shares, and organisations that are funded 100% by state bodies or agencies and continue to be in receipt of that funding.


This one year fund will provide a range of supports to community and voluntary sector organisations through cash grants and non-financial support. 

  • Cash grants up to €80,000 
  • A business supports package
  • A place on a 6-month Rethink Ireland Accelerator Programme


Complete the online application form from Monday 18th October to Friday 19th November at 5pm. To complete your application form online, you will need to upload financial and governance information including a one year budget for your project. 


We have tried to make the application process as accessible as possible but we understand that there may still be some difficulties for applicants. If you have access needs or are struggling with the application form, please contact


What can cash grants be spent on?
You may only spend the grant on the project which won the award. Rethink Ireland will agree on the specific use of the grant with you.
Please note: you cannot use the grant to pay off debts or buy land, buildings or equipment and it cannot be used for subsistence or scholarship payments to beneficiaries.

If my organisation has already or is currently in receipt of a grant from Rethink Ireland, can I still apply?
Yes. If you have previously been funded or are currently being funded by Rethink Ireland, you can still apply to The Rural Recovery Fund with a new project.

Who will decide who wins the awards?
Final decisions are made by the Board of Rethink Ireland.

What is the selection process?
The selection process includes the following steps:

  • Stage 1: Open call for applications (Oct 18th 2021 – 5pm Nov 19th 2021)
  • Stage 2: Review the applications
  • Stage 3: Shortlisted applicants invited to interview – week beginning 20th December 2021
  • Stage 4: Interviews (Monday 17th – Tuesday 25th Jan 2022)
  • Stage 5: Final checks on short-listed applicants
  • Stage 6: Final decision by Rethink Ireland’s Board – February 2022
  • Stage 7: Inform successful applicants – March 2022

Can organisations make multiple applications?
Yes, organisations can make multiple applications. These applications must be for different projects.

If my organisation is funded by a Government/state agency (HSE, TULSA etc) are we eligible?
Yes, you can apply if you are in receipt of funding from a government or state agency. However, if your organisation is 100% funded through state sources then you are not eligible to apply.

Any further questions?
Contact the Rural Recovery Fund Team at


By applying for The Rural Recovery Fund, you agree to the following terms and conditions.

  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • You have given full and truthful information, both verbal and written, at all stages of the application and selection process.
  • You are eligible to apply. This means that your organisation meets the criteria for Rethink Ireland and, as described.You have the right to apply. This means that you hold the necessary rights to carry out the project.
  • By sending in your application, you accept these terms and conditions and our Privacy Statement. If you do not comply with these terms and conditions, you may be disqualified and may have to return any award granted.
  • Rethink Ireland will hold the personal details which you submitted with your application form. We will only share this information with the third parties administering the application and selection process unless we agree otherwise with you. Please see our Privacy Statement for full details.
  • The Awardees must take part in publicity about the grant. Rethink Ireland reserves the right to publish the names of organisations that are successful in their applications.
  • If you decline an award or if the award is taken back because you did not comply with the terms and conditions, the Directors may select an alternative Awardee.
  • Rethink Ireland reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, to change the terms and conditions without notice, or to cancel the application process at any stage.

Contact the Rural Recovery Fund Team at