Since its creation in 2004, the Big Lottery fund has distributed over £6 billion raised by the National Lottery to support more than 130,000 projects across the UK.
Now the largest community funder in the UK, they provide financial support to community groups and charitable projects which come under the wide umbrella of being a good cause.
Where is the money from?
For every £2 ticket sold by the National Lottery, 28% goes to the Big Lottery Fund.
What funds are available?
The Big Lottery Fund is split into different pots, each with specific objectives.
The Awards for All funding stream offers grants between £300 and £10,000 for voluntary or community organisations in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This is an open program with no closing dates.
For projects over £10,000, the Awards from the UK Portfolio supports UK wide projects which aim to address long-term social issues and improve the quality of life across the UK and internationally.
There are additional regional funding programmes and for Northern Ireland these are:
People and communities
Grants from £30,000 to £500,000 to support positive change in the community
Empowering Young People
Grants from £30,000 to £500,000 available to voluntary or community organisations for projects that give young people aged 8 to 25 the ability to overcome the challenges they face.
Who qualifies for the funds?
The majority of the Big Lottery Fund is distributed to charities, community organisations, and people with great projects, and it also provides support to statutory bodies, local authorities, and social enterprises.
What type of projects work best?
The Big Lottery Fund’s mission is to help communities and people in most need. They achieve this by supporting projects which focus on health, education, environment, and charitable work.
They support a diverse range of ideas, but successful projects identify a need and offer a solution which aims to make things better, whether that’s for a person, a community, the environment, or an organisation.
They are particularly interested in ideas which are community led, that bring people together, and encourage people and organisations to work together to improve their community.
How can I apply and when?
To apply for funding, visit the Big Lottery Fund website. Here you will find details on all the funding streams available and when they are accepting applications.
The Awards for All fund accepts applications at any time, as do many of the regional funding streams. The following closing dates apply for specific schemes:
Empowering Young People (Northern Ireland) closing date 31 March 2021
Our Place (Scotland) closing date summer 2018
Thomas Conway’s 3 Top Tips For Applying to the Big Lottery Fund
The Big Lottery Fund is a healthy funding stream, supporting many projects across the UK, however in order to access funds you must be able to demonstrate that you have a solid idea which you are capable of delivering and that will make a difference. Here’s my top tips for applying to the fund:
- Check your eligibility
This is a critical step which is surprisingly often overlooked. Before you invest any time in documenting your proposal, identity the funding stream which suits your project, check your eligibility, and read the guides provided.
- Have a clear proposal
The Big Lottery Fund identifies themselves as an outcomes funder who are driven by the difference its funding makes for individuals and communities. To create a successful application, you must clearly identify the following:
- What is the problem/issue/situation, how you know it exists, and who is it affecting?
- What is the aim of your project, how will you deliver it, and what will a successful outcome look like?
- How will you track the progress of the project and evaluate its success?
- Check the details
Make sure your application is written clearly using simple language and free from error.
Ask someone else to review it as your own mistakes are harder to spot, preferably someone who is unfamiliar with your organisation or project to make sure you’re getting the message across clearly.