This guide aims to provide a brief overview of information and tips collated from research into the Reaching Communities grants provided by the Big Lottery Fund (BLF). The BLF are currently updating the application process so this resource has tried to incorporate any new information we have received.
A few facts about the BLF:
- The BLF have £200million to give annually
- The receive applications for £80million per month across England, the majority of these are for under £10,000
- Approximately 15% of applications are invited to stage 2
- The success rate at stage 2 is around 50%
- The process usually takes 9 to 12 months to complete
There is a wealth of information and resources on the BLF website highlighting exactly what they are looking for in a successful application.
The BLF mission is: to bring real improvements to communities and the lives of people in need.
- This can be people disadvantaged for a number of reasons, for example ethnicity, disability etc.
- It is key that your project leads to an improvement in lives and the community in general.
Their vision: people in the lead. The take home message is
- “We believe people should be in the lead in improving their lives and communities. Our approach will focus on the skills, assets and energy that people can draw upon and the potential in their ideas.”
- We feel that strong, vibrant communities can be built and renewed by the people living in them – making them ready for anything in the face of future opportunities and challenges.”
BLF previously had their four outcomes that they were looking for in a project, they have now changed this to the England Portfolio. This involves three overlapping areas to address:
- Enabling People to take the Lead (using knowledge, strengths and assets)
- Early Actions to prevent problems and tackle disadvantage
- Happier and Stronger (relationships), Healthier and Sustainable (places and spaces)
Moving away from a regional model to more of a local model. Trying to make the process of applying easier for local organisations.
- Hiring more BLF grant officers across the UK
- Talking to and supporting local organisations earlier on in the application process.
- More collaboration: aiming to be better joined up to support the voluntary sector
BLF are investing more in the organisations themselves to grow, develop and become more sustainable. There is a separate pot called “Building Capabilities” of which you can ask for £15,000 per application.
- This pot is to look at the strengths and weakness of your organisation so you can better develop or address them
- This can be used for; monitoring, organisational planning, training, information technology
- Applying for this will not reduce your chances of being successful, don’t worry!
- There are priority areas the BLF are looking for you to address:
- Starting from strengths – focus on what you are being told by the people who access your services as well as other stakeholders, e.g. local authority, doctors. Top tip: Focus on the people walking through your doors, what matters to them most. The BLF are looking for people in the lead.
- Happier and stronger relationships – building relationships and pathways within the community to improve the support for people. Trying to create a connected community with peer support.
- Shared and sustainable places – BLF are looking to invest in ideas that make use of existing spaces and sustain them. Creating health and wellbeing hubs used by several organisations in the community working collectively highlights the sustainability of the project.
- Early action – BLF are not ruling out crisis invention when it is needed, however due to the increasing cuts in funding they are looking to prevent issues before they escalate.
When evidencing your application make sure you show why you are best placed to deliver this service and how it is different to what is already being delivered in your area. Why is your proposal important to the people and the communities you want to support?
- Some preferred sources of evidence are: consultations, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires. Be careful with questionnaires that you are asking the right questions and not too many of them! Letters of support can also be a great way to provide evidence but the BLF would rather see that you have had conversations with people in the community
- Some other types of evidence that can be useful to show the scale of the need are: local statistics, deprivation index, local and national priorities and research reports. These can all be very helpful but do not focus all of you evidence on the statistics.
- The amount of evidence you collate needs to be proportionate to the amount of money you are applying for.
- Gather as much evidence as you can for the stage 1 application. Do not think “I will collect more between the stages”, you need to get past stage 1!
Take home messages
- People in the lead – involve people from the start and all the way through
- Early intervention
- Have a critical friend from outside your organisation to read your application
- Ask yourself, why are you best placed to deliver the service, and show this to assessment team
Take a look at the Big Lottery Fund Strategic Framework 2015-21:
Get in touch with the Big advice team:
Telephone: 0345 4 10 20 30
Text Relay: 18001 plus 0345 4 10 20 30 (for those with a hearing or speech impairment)
You can also send an email to the Big advice team at firstname.lastname@example.org