A ‘Handy Guide’ to Lottery Grant Applications

Many think that lottery applications are really hard work and isn’t always worth it, because of the chances of getting rejected. However, writing applications is all about planning; a well planned project can put you five steps ahead of other applicants. It’s worthwhile spending that extra time initially to produce a good application. There is a popular adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management;

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.

However, sometimes life gets in the way of planning, especially as a small charity. This guide is about a simple approach to take when developing your projects and seeking lottery funding. I want you to spread your hand on a blank piece of A4 paper and use your other hand to draw around it, which gives you a great handy reminder. Now you’ve heard about having a great ‘case for support’, but what makes a great case for support? Using the following steps gives you a great platform.

Finger one (Index)

Establish the need for the project

Many people will find this step the hardest, particularly if you have been running your project for many years and don’t realise what you already have in terms of your volunteers, staff and beneficiaries. By this I mean evaluation forms, forums, AGMs, focus groups and many other things that groups do to see if their projects are already doing great work and how they could be improved.

Stronger lottery projects will seek to:

  • Identify who their beneficiaries are;
  • Clearly identify the issues they face;
  • Provide evidence of recent consultation and/or pilot work;
  • Quote local and national stats and research to support the need for the project;
  • Provide evidence of stakeholder consultation – i.e. professionals supporting the potential beneficiaries.

Finger two (Middle)

Check whether there are similar projects

Lottery funders make it relatively easy to see who they have funded, where and why. So do a little research; it’s so important to do this before approaching funders. It firstly, gives you a great sense of what they are likely to fund and whether they would fund your organisation in the first place.

Strong lottery projects will seek to:

  • Provide evidence of collaboration with other local providers;
  • Demonstrate gaps in local provision and how they will meet these gaps.

Finger three (Ring)

Involve your beneficiaries

This was always a big priority for lottery funders, but more recently it has become an even bigger focus. Funders want to see just how you engage beneficiaries with your organisation and project in particular. So many organisations forget the good ways they involve their beneficiaries in what they do, or at worst forget to tell the funders.

Strong lottery projects will seek to:

  • Show beneficiaries involved in running, planning and evaluating;
  • Provide examples of this in process.

Finger four (Pinky)

Be clear on the projects outcomes

Outcomes are really essential in showing funders the positive impact you will deliver for your beneficiaries. When thinking about preparing the outcomes for your project you need to think about the long term difference your project will have on each of the beneficiaries.

Strong lottery projects will seek to:

  • Show the long term personal difference for each of their beneficiaries;
  • Will link the difference to the identified need.

Finger Five (Thumb)

Is there are a link between the outcomes, need and activities?

Lottery funders are looking for projects that can clearly show a step by step approach of how the project you are proposing will make the difference you wish to achieve through the activities you are going to deliver. The biggest mistakes that groups do is to not check the application to ensure that it makes sense.

No one will seek to fund a project that states the need is to provide classes for young people and the young people are asking for something different.

So in conclusion is securing lottery funding hard work? Yes, Is it worth it? Yes it can be. Can you make it easier for yourself and your organisation? Yes, by using this simple ‘Handy Guide’. So good luck and I wish you all the best in securing your funding needs.


Today’s blog comes from lottery fundraising expert, Kemar Walford, who will be speaking about lottery fundraising at IFC UK’s First Friday fundraising advice session on 3 March in London. This event is now full, but subscribe to this blog and find out about April’s free fundraising advice session here first.