The fund is dedicated not so much to the relief of poverty as to the support of Methodist work of all kinds in impoverished areas. It highlights the Church's commitment to the poor and disadvantaged by making grants for personnel and property schemes which further this aim. It was a prominent part of Methodist outreach in poor areas in the period 1985-95, after which it became largely subsumed within wider funding. It is financed largely by voluntary contributions and grants. The fund assisted the growth of small churches, often moving into alternative premises such as houses, shops, public houses and community centres. The concept of 'Mission Alongside' rather than 'to' the Poor emphasizes an incarnational and co-redemptive thrust, whereby Methodism seeks to continue and expand its street-level commitment in deprived neighbourhoods. From this vantage point 'Mission' takes place where the total human experience and environment are seen as part of God's redemptive purposes. Out of this presence, 'local churches should reflect theologically upon, and publicize the realities of life in cities, the problems, struggles and achievements, to policy makers and the wider public'.
In 2016 a major report 'Mission Alongside the Poor in the 21st century' was brought to the Conference, reaffirming the aims of the programme and reviewing the definition and possible measures of poverty. The Conference accepted the recommendations, welcoming and encouraging applications by projects to the various funds out of which grants could be made (having previously already moved away from the concept of one specific fund), made on the basis that 'the group of people they wish to serve are unable to live in dignity because they have difficulty accessing material resources such as, but not limited to, food, housing, clothing, transport, services that support work such as childcare'. The programme was renamed 'Methodist Action on Poverty and Justice'.