Romantic Novelists' Association

Access grants

The RNA have now introduced an access grant scheme with the aim of allowing those in financial hardship access to our organisation and events. Details of these grants, including how they operate, how you can apply and a list of frequently asked questions, are given below.

Romantic Novelists’ Association Access Grants Policy And Operating Procedure



The aim of the grants is to improve access to the RNA and its activities for people who are experiencing significant, persistent financial challenges. This includes people from all backgrounds and demographics. It is part of the RNA’s commitment to making the RNA the writing organisation of choice for all authors of romantic fiction, regardless of their background and what they write.


The scheme will be funded through RNA income and individuals’ donations. This income will be used to support the provision of access grants. A limited number of grants will be awarded each year. When the fund is spent there will be no further grants awarded in that financial year until the fund is replenished.

Purpose of grant

Access grants can only be allocated to a specific RNA activity or service. The funding amount will be matched to that activity thereby ensuring flexibility to individual needs, enabling the individual to access an activity which they may not have otherwise been able to access. Individuals may for example apply for a grant for activities* such as:

  • One year’s full or NWS membership of the RNA
  • Entry to awards
  • A place at an RNA event
  • Attendance at an RNA course
  • Grants are not available for non-RNA activities such as equipment, writing retreats or non-RNA courses.

*Subject to availability


Individuals will not receive the funds personally. Instead the requested activity will be funded from the access grants fund on behalf of the individual. No cash alternatives are available.


Applicants must produce two types of evidence:

  1. Evidence of commitment to writing romantic fiction
  2. Evidence of financial hardship
  3. Commitment to writing romantic fiction

To ensure grants are awarded to people who are committed to writing romantic fiction, applicants must submit the following as part of their application:

  • 5,000-10,000 word sample of their fiction
  • Synopsis of their whole story

The content must reflect the RNA definition of romance:

Romantic fiction is a broad genre. The samples should have an exploration of romantic love as an overarching theme of the story. Eligible stories can therefore range from a romance novel that focuses primarily on the developing relationship between two or more protagonists to novels that tackle a number of different themes but have a love story as one of their prime elements.

These samples will not be assessed for quality by the RNA Access Grants Panel, but they are included in the applications as evidence of the commitment to writing romantic fiction. They will be assessed by the panel to ensure they meet the above definition of romantic fiction.

  1. Evidence of financial hardship
    To ensure grants are awarded to those in genuine, significant, and persistent financial need, applicants must provide evidence confirming that the applicant (not a family member) is in receipt of government means-tested benefits such as PIP, universal credit, unemployment benefits, or sickness benefits, or equivalent in the applicant’s jurisdiction. Such evidence is not required at the time of application, but will be necessary if the applicant is successful and receives a conditional offer of a grant.

Appeals process

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application via email. Applicants may appeal a decision in writing, within ten working days of receipt of decision.

Demographic information

Details of demographic information related to applicants will be collected anonymously, for monitoring purposes, but will not form part of the decision-making process.

Frequently asked questions

Can I donate money to the RNA for use within this scheme?

We are always grateful when people donate money and the funds would be added to the Access Grants fund pot.

Can I donate money to the RNA for use on a particular demographic of member, such as someone who is gay, living with a disability, or from a BAME background?

The demographics of applicants for this scheme are not used to decide whether people receive the grants or not. The grants are awarded on the basis of financial hardship. While we anonymously monitor demographics of successful applicants to track how this scheme supports our wider diversity and inclusion aims, the grants can’t be earmarked for a specific demographic of individuals as that goes against the goal of the access grants, that of awarding those in the most financial need.

I am in financial hardship but don’t receive government means-tested benefits. Can I apply for an RNA Access Grant?

Unfortunately, you would not be eligible to apply for this scheme, on the basis you aren’t in receipt of a government means-tested benefit.

Why does the financial hardship evidence not include wider factors such as being a single person, having children, or working in a low-paid job etc?

We have to ensure these grants go to those in the most financial need. The fairest and clearest way of doing this is for them to be awarded to those who are receiving government means-tested benefits. If we looked at wider factors, the parameters around this are much less clear and could result in the grants being awarded to those who weren’t in the most financial need.

I want to apply for an access grant, but I’ve not written anything – can I apply for a grant and send in my writing afterwards?

To ensure commitment to writing romantic fiction, evidence of your writing’s existence, and not of its quality, is part of the application process for access grants.

I want to apply for an access grant, and I’ve written a crime story that includes a romance between two characters. Am I eligible to apply for an RNA access grant?

We would need to review the writing and synopsis, to be sure, but on the basis of your story including a romance it is likely that it fits within the RNA’s definition of romantic fiction and therefore you would be eligible to apply on the basis of that part. However, you would still need to be able to evidence being in financial hardship by receiving government means-tested benefits.

I don’t want to disclose personal information about myself such as my sexual orientation, age, or ethnicity. Do I have to complete the demographics survey as part of my application for an RNA access grant?

Yes, you do, as we need to monitor the demographics of those we give access grants to, as part of our aim to become a more diverse and inclusive organisation for all authors. However, these demographic details are collected anonymously, not linked to specific applications, and are not seen by the access grants award panel. If applicants didn’t share these anonymously collected demographics details we can’t monitor the impact of these access grants on increasing a wider range of members to join the RNA and use its activities.

Why do you collect personal and private information, such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, and having a disability?

It is standard for organisations to anonymously collect these details as part of their activities, including for job applications, awarding money or other business activities. These details are collected anonymously and stored in accordance with GDPR as special category data, to monitor the impact of awarding these access grants on widening participation of a broader range of individuals using RNA activities.

I don’t see my ethnicity / sexuality described in the demographic categories listed. Why did you choose those categories?

We based these on the categories from the UK Census 2021, as they are also being collected anonymously for demographic monitoring only.

Why couldn’t you have more categories of ethnicity, sexuality, etc in your demographic monitoring?

We’re only collecting these details, anonymously, for demographic monitoring purposes, to identify how many access grants are awarded to individuals who are different from the majority of RNA members. Therefore there is no purpose for us collecting data on multiple sub-categories of these elements. We have based the categories on questions used in the UK Census 2021.

If I don’t see my ethnicity/sexuality described, which one should I choose?

We have based the categories on questions used in the UK Census 2021. Please choose the category which is nearest to how you describe yourself.

Why does the access grants panel view name and contact details at the final stage of applications?

This is to check if there is a conflict of interests with a member of the panel, or whether the individual has already been in receipt of an access grant.

I applied for an access grant, and am in receipt of government means-tested benefits, and am writing a romantic novel, but my application was denied. Why is this?

You will be informed of this reason in writing by the access grants panel. There are a number of reasons, this could include: you being in receipt of another access grant during this financial year, being subject to the RNA’s code of conduct, or there are no further funds in the access grants pot. The access grants fund is replenished annually, and once it is spent we can no longer award further access grants.

I have never written before, but am in receipt of government means-tested benefits. I would like to apply for an access grant, but do not have any writing to include. What can I do?

The RNA has a New Writers’ Scheme to develop the quality of individuals’ writing until it is ready for publication. You can submit a synopsis of your story, and the first 5000 words, as part of your application, regardless of the quality of the writing; as long as it meets the definition of romantic fiction, your application will be reviewed by the panel.

I have written a romantic novel and someone who I live with / my relative who I live with / my husband or wife or civil partner is in receipt of government means-tested benefits. Can I apply for an access grant on the basis that I share a home with this person?

The access grants are for the recipients, who are in severe, ongoing financial need, rather than someone the applicant lives with, or is related to, or married to.

What is the definition of romantic fiction?

Romantic fiction is a broad genre. The samples should have an exploration of romantic love as an overarching theme of the story. Eligible stories can therefore range from a romance novel that focuses primarily on the developing relationship between two or more protagonists to novels that tackle a number of different themes but have a love story as one of their prime elements.