Open Fund

Sports and Wellness Fund 2024

Closing Date

The Sports and Wellness Fund aims to support social innovations that use sports and physical activity programmes to have a demonstrable impact on improving mental health outcomes and social inclusion for people and communities in Ireland.

Ireland has generally good health outcomes, but there are significant behavioural health risks and high rates of mental illness. Ireland, like many other nations, is grappling with the health implications brought about by rising rates of sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and associated health issues. Physical inactivity has been identified as a significant risk factor for mental health and wellbeing in Ireland. As individuals come together in a supportive and inclusive sporting community, the positive impact can go beyond the playing field, promoting social cohesion in communities. This holistic approach recognises the multifaceted nature of wellbeing and highlights the importance of addressing various dimensions to achieve lasting positive outcomes in Irish society.

This two-year Fund will offer a package of cash grants and non-financial supports to up to 5 awardees to help them scale and maximise their impact in promoting healthier lives, increased levels of mental health and wellbeing and improved social cohesion. 

Key Objectives of the Fund: 

  • Positive Mental Wellbeing: The primary goal of the fund is to support sports programmes that have a demonstrable impact on improving mental health outcomes. This includes reducing stress, anxiety, and depression while promoting overall psychological resilience.
  • Enhancing Social Inclusion: The fund would facilitate the development and implementation of sports programmes that actively promote social inclusion. This involves reaching marginalised populations, promoting diversity, and ensuring accessibility for individuals with varying abilities. 

Sports and Wellness Core Criteria

  • Have been operating for at least 1 year and provide evidence that it is up and running, or has been tested at least in a minimal way – we would encourage organisations from an early Lifecycle stage to apply.
  • Be able to secure philanthropic funding commitments totalling at least €100,000 (€50,000 per annum)

What do successful applicants get? 

  • A minimum 50% uplift on funding secured* 
  • A place on Rethink Ireland’s Accelerator Programme
  • A tailored non-financial supports package to support them in improving their financial sustainability, including supports in the areas of financial/business modelling, market assessments and growth strategies
  • Access to Rethink Ireland’s networks

* The Rethink Ireland Board will decide how much money to award, which may be less than the amount requested. The final amount of the award will depend on how many organisations are selected.

Apply today

You can apply to the Sports and Wellness Fund via this LINK from April 12th to July 12th at 1 pm.


Please join us for our application clinic on May 21st to find out more and answer any questions that you have.

Register by clicking the links below:

May 21st at 12 pm register (click here) 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to


This fund is open to organisations that have a not-for-profit legal form, e.g. a company limited by guarantee, a co-operative, trust, charity, and other voluntary organisations that meet the following criteria:

Eligibility & Criteria

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

Rethink Ireland Criteria 

  • The project must address a critical social or environmental issue
  • The project must be innovative in an Irish context
  • The project must be based in the Republic of Ireland
  • The project must have the potential and desire to scale or replicate in Ireland 
  • 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, e.g. a company limited by guarantee, a co-operative, trust, charity.

Sports and Wellness Core Criteria 

  • Have been operating for at least 1 year and provide evidence that it is up and running, or has been tested at least in a minimal way – we would encourage organisations from an early Lifecycle stage to apply. 
  • The Sports and Wellness Fund is one of Rethink Ireland’s self-funded funds. Applicants, therefore, need to be able to secure philanthropic funding commitments totalling at least €100,000 (€50,000 per annum). Find more information below under “What is a Self-Funded Fund and What is the Philanthropic Commitment?”

Fund-specific criteria: 

Projects must be a sports, physical activity or outdoor recreation based programme that is working towards enhancing positive outcomes in mental health and social inclusion for their beneficiaries, including one or more of the following: 

  • Fostering engagement in sporting/physical activities or outdoor recreation. 
  • Using early interventions that prevent mental ill-health occurring in the first place. 
  • Promoting social inclusion for people from marginalised communities. 
  • Enhancing the positive mental health of communities using evidence-based approaches and/or community development approaches. 
  • Promoting collective mental health and physical health improvement at the community level. 
  • Encouraging physical activity, promoting healthy lifestyles and habits among participants. Demonstrating efforts to reduce health inequities, with a focus on marginalised communities, ensuring that the benefits of sports programs are accessible to all. 

Advantageous criteria 

  • Organisations engaging meaningfully with minority/disadvantaged groups, including but not limited to those led by women, ex-prisoners, recovering addicts, Travellers, and migrants. 
  • Organisations that are beneficiary-led or involve members of the beneficiary community in decision-making roles 
  • Organisations that have a positive effect on Ireland’s Green Transition through their activities/interventions. This criteria applies if the organisation tackles issues related to the environment and green transition, such as carbon reduction, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, pollution and/or the just transition. 
  • Organisations that operate in a partnership with other stakeholders to maximise the impact of their initiatives. 

Which projects cannot apply?

Projects that are not eligible to apply are:

  • Projects where research is the primary activity
  • 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

Which applicants cannot apply?

Applicants that are not eligible to apply are:

  • Applicants under 18 years of age
  • Commercial companies, sole traders and individuals
  • Any staff member from Rethink Ireland and their family members. Family members include siblings, parents, spouses or civil partners or children.
  • Individuals
  • Statutory or public bodies, companies limited by shares and organisations that are funded 100% by state bodies or agencies (and continue to be in receipt of that funding), that are not registered charities
  • Any consultant currently working with Rethink Ireland

If my organisation has previously been in receipt of an award from Rethink Ireland, can I still apply?

Yes. If you have previously been funded by Rethink Ireland, you can still apply. Previous awardees must be able to demonstrate they have performed well on a previous programme and capture in the application form how the new funding being applied for is a logical continuation from the original investment, fitting the new Fund criteria in particular.

If my organisation/project is currently in receipt of an award from Rethink Ireland, can I still apply?

Projects on one of our Funds that have cash grant payments remaining after the commencement of the new fund programme (December 2024) are not eligible to apply. 

Organisations on one of our Funds that have cash grant payments remaining before the commencement of the new fund programme are still eligible to apply with a different project and different project lead.

Is this just for large-scale, national organisations?

No, it is not, and indeed we welcome applications from organisations of all sizes once it is a not-for-profit organisation with a legal form (see criteria above).

Can I apply for this funding even though I am still at the ideation stage? 

Unfortunately, no, this fund needs to see proof that the project is up and running or at least has been tested and shown results in some way.

Can organisations make multiple applications? 

Yes, there is nothing stopping your organisation from making more than one application for separate projects. However, due to the competitive nature of this Fund and its selection process, it is very unlikely that we will fund more than one project from any organisation. We encourage organisations to submit one strong application rather than multiple applications.

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 to the Fund.

Is it possible for organisations to collaborate in an application (e.g. a community development organisation and an educational provider)?

They can, but one organisation is required to take the lead. Please note that if your application is successful, the lead applicant will be required to sign a contract and fulfill all legal obligations associated with the project’s performance. Please always refer to the eligibility criteria to ensure your project is eligible for funding.


There will be up to 5 awards available in total, and each awardee will receive a cash grant, a business supports package, a place on our capacity building programme and access to Rethink Ireland’s networks.

What can cash grants be spent on? 

The cash grant must be spent on the project that won the award and must be ring-fenced for the work you are undertaking. The specific use of the cash grant will be agreed between Rethink Ireland and the awardee.

The funding may be used to cover operations/staff costs but you must be able to demonstrate in your application how this is facilitating you to run the project that you are applying for. Cash grants may not be used to pay off debts or for capital items such as renovations or for vehicles, land, buildings or large equipment. 

What non-financial supports will be provided to successful applicants?

Rethink Ireland’s non-financial supports have been called our ‘secret sauce’ that help projects to really develop their capacity and sustainability, in addition to the benefit of the cash supports. Non-financial supports will include:

  1. Each awardee’s project lead and potentially other relevant staff will take part in the Fund’s Accelerator Programme The Accelerator programme will consist of a series of interactive training workshops on topics such as strategy development, measuring and maximising your impact, communications and storytelling, diversity and inclusion and fundraising.
  2. Awardees will also get some bespoke 1:1 business and capacity building supports from expert business/non-profit consultants in areas such as impact management, theory of change and strategy development. Supports will be designed in consultation with the successful projects.
  3. Awardees will also get access to Rethink Ireland’s networks and have the opportunity to develop networks and contacts with the other awardees of the Fund which are often very valuable in the longer term.

What is expected of awardees?

The project lead will be expected to take part in the Rethink Ireland Accelerator Programme, which includes attending workshops and spending time working 1:1 with a business/strategy consultant. Project leads will be expected to spend a minimum of two days per week working on the awarded project and working towards agreed goals.


What is involved in completing the application form?

The application form asks you for information about:

  • your project and organisation
  • the problem your project tackles
  • what makes your project different from others
  • who it benefits
  • how your project meets the fund conditions
  • how you test or evaluate how well your project is doing 
  • referees
  • other details
  • It also asks you to send us financial documents (listed below) and a short video about your project (this is optional). 


What kind of video do we need to submit? Optional

Don’t worry – you don’t need to produce a high-quality or expensive video. You can use a smartphone or tablet. We just want to hear you telling the story of your project in 2 – 3 mins max. Please tell us:  

  • who you are
  • why you are applying for the award
  • the problem/issue your project is trying to solve
  • how you will do that 
  • how your solution is innovative or creative. 

You can then upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and password-protect it if you wish. You can insert the URL link and the password in the application form.


What financial information do we need to submit with our application?

  1. The documents you need to complete depend on whether you are applying in relation to a project within an organisation or you are applying as an organisation as a whole:
    • If applying for a project within a larger organisation, the project’s management accounts and the organisation’s most recent audited/full accounts are needed.
    • If applying for an organisation as a whole, the most recent audited/full accounts are needed.
  2. All applicants must outline how they intend to use the funds from Rethink Ireland if successful and upload a proposed budget. A spreadsheet template is provided in the relevant section of the application form.


How do we upload our project budget (planned income and expenditure)?

In the relevant section of the application form you will be provided with a link to a budget template in Excel. Please click on the link provided and DOWNLOAD this document to your computer. Then fill in your financial information and save the document with your project’s name, then upload it in the relevant section of the application form. 



We have tried to make the application process as accessible as possible, but we understand there may still be some difficulties for applicants. If you have access needs or are struggling with the application form, we kindly request you to please contact instead of contacting other Rethink Ireland emails or Rethink Ireland staff, as this can result in a delay in responses. 


What happens after we submit our application?

  1. Applications will go through a rigorous selection process (for more information, see below).
  2. Interviews will take place online in August 2024 (if you are invited to an interview, you will be informed in July 2024)
  3. Successful applicants will be informed in October 2024
  4. The cash grants will be delivered over the two years and are tied to agreed performance milestones. 
  5. The Accelerator Programme will run from January 2025 to December 2026
  6. The Accelerator supports will be designed in consultation with the awardees and reflect organisational/project needs. 
  7. The Fund will close in December 2026


How does the selection process work?

The selection process is very rigorous and consists of a number of stages:

  • Stage 1 – Open call for applications April 12th to July 12th 2024 
  • Stage 2 – Internal and external reviews of all applications July – August 2024
  • Stage 3 – Interviews for shortlisted applicants August 2024
  • Stage 4 – Due Diligence/Governance checks on short-listed applicants.
  • Stage 5 – Final decision by Rethink Ireland board October 2024 


Who will decide who wins the awards?

 All applications will be reviewed thoroughly through a rigorous process. The Board of Rethink Ireland will make the final decision on successful applicants and the number and value of the final awards given.


How do applicants find out where they are in the selection process?

We will contact all applicants by email to let them know whether or not they have been shortlisted and invited to interview.  Interviews will be conducted via online video link. When final decisions have been made on the successful applicants, we will contact all shortlisted applicants by phone or email to let them know whether they have been successful. 



Rethink Ireland has developed and run self-funded model funds to help stimulate philanthropy in Ireland and provide additional support for social innovations.
In our self-funded model, awardees raise their own philanthropic funding from existing and prospective donors. This philanthropic funding is then ‘uplifted’ at a certain percentage by Rethink Ireland utilising the Dormant Accounts funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development. These uplifts are typically given in two parts: one in response to the lodgment of philanthropic funding itself and the other as a result of the awardee’s performance on the fund.
An example for the Sports & Wellness Fund
Awardee A raises €250,000 in total to apply for the Fund. Rethink Ireland will then provide €125,000 in additional cash grants (50% Uplift)
Awardee B raises €360,000 in total to apply for the Fund. Rethink Ireland will then provide €180,000 in additional cash grants (50% Uplift)
What Funds can be used for the Philanthropic Commitment?
Philanthropic funds eligible for funding include:
  • Corporate philanthropy
  • Individual philanthropy
  • Funding from other trusts and foundations
Funds from government bodies or agencies are not eligible for the philanthropic commitment. All philanthropic funding to be processed for Uplift funds from Rethink Ireland must come with a donor letter of commitment where the donor of those funds confirms that they are happy for the funds to be utilised for Uplift funding from the Sports & Wellness Fund.


By applying to the Sports and Wellness Fund, you agree to the following terms and conditions.

  • 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 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.
  • Awardees (successful applicants) agree to 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 rescinded because you did not comply with the terms and conditions, the Board of 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.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to