Lottery ‘Changing for the Better?’

The Big Lottery Fund has made some big changes and these changes will help many organisations struggling to access funding. What have they done? I hear you ask, well they have simplified the Awards for All application by reducing the number of significant questions they ask you to complete from six to one. However, it may also diminish the ability of many small groups to access more complex grant funding, unless others follow suit. We all know that writing applications can be very difficult for many organisations and even the experienced can sometimes struggle. So how will you make the leap from small to medium or large grant funding? It’s worthwhile making a plan for each of your projects and having this in the background. Spending this extra bit of time initially will help you to produce great applications for the long term, whether it’s easy or not. Remember;

“Easy isn’t always better”.

However, life will almost always get in the way of good practice for small charities. This guide is about taking a look at the key aspects that are needed when developing your projects and seeking any Lottery funding (or any funding for that matter). Using the following steps gives you a great platform to build on.

Need is the first thing all funders are seeking to understand about your project.

This is often the most difficult and time consuming step in preparing the plan and application, particularly if you have been running your project for many years. By this I mean you need to use the evaluation forms, feedback forms, suggestion boxes, forums, AGMs and any other things that groups do to see if their projects are already doing great work and how they could be improved.

The second part of this is to filter through the information you’ve collected and pick out the key aspects that really showcase the impact you have had and the changes you should make. I would always seek to support this with some recent consultation with those close to the project, but also those that don’t use your project. This is the most essential part of evidencing need with most applicants failing as a result of not including this.

Similar projects

This is something that I feel is really important, as it really showcases your understanding of what is being delivered in your area and what gaps exist. Lottery funders in particular don’t want to duplicate funding in an area for the same community groups. It is relatively easy to see who they have funded, where and why. 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.

Beneficiaries involvement

One of the biggest priorities for lottery funders, which is continuing to grow in focus. Funders want to see just how you engage beneficiaries with your organisation and project in particular. So showcase the myriad of ways you currently involve your beneficiaries within all of your organisations activities. Please don’t forget to think about how you do so in the following areas, project design; development; delivery and evaluation.

Outcomes/Impact

In recent years there has been a significant shift towards the impact/difference your project will make rather than the traditional outcome. So it is essential that you show funders the positive impact you will deliver for your beneficiaries. When preparing to showcase the difference/impact your project will make you need to think about the long term or lasting effects of your project on each of your beneficiaries. Award for All in particular has opted to move away from a focus on outcomes, but they still expect to see the difference your intending make within your answer.

Outcomes, Need and Activities

Lottery funders are looking for projects that can clearly show a linkage and a step by step approach of how the project you are proposing will make the difference you wish to achieve. The biggest mistake that groups do, is not checking the application to ensure that it makes sense and the link is clear. All funders want to be confident in your projects ability to achieve your goal, as this helps them achieve theirs.

No funder will seek to fund a project that they can’t see how you will achieve the difference you desire, as clear as day is to night.

So in conclusion is lottery funding changing for the better? Yes. Will it make it easier for small organisations with limited resources? Yes. Will this make it easier for groups to transition between small, medium and large grant funding? I don’t think so, but I’ll let you be the decider.

So good luck and all the best in securing your funding needs.

Kemar Walford, Senior consultant/Director, KN Walford Consultancy Ltd