What do the new changes to the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities Programme mean?

In January 2017, the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities Fund changed their application form and funding priorities. As of 30 April 2017, they are no longer accepting applications on the old form. With the change in priorities, they want to fund projects that:

  • Deliver lasting and sustainable changes to places and spaces
  • Facilitate communities to develop happier and stronger relationships with each other
  • Take action to focus on the root causes of social problems to tackle them at the earliest possible stage.

Whilst the priorities are different from their previous funding aims the focus is still very much communities’ responses to local issues, and how individuals and organisations can work together to deliver lasting change.

As a result, consulting with local organisations, members of the community and beneficiaries is still an essential step in making a successful application. You can consult through interviews, surveys, focus groups and open days. We recommend you aim to consult with at least 10% of the number of people you intend to support over the life of the grant.

Reaching Communities continues to offer grants of between £10,000 to £500,000 for new or existing activities, or the core work of your organisation, and they fund all sizes and types of not-for-profits. You do not have to be a registered charity to apply.

A significant change is that the Big Lottery Fund now ask you to contact them as early as possible before applying to Reaching Communities so they can give you funding advice. Decision making within the Reaching Communities Programme remains regionally based.

It is therefore important to research what other local projects have received funding from Reaching Communities as the Big Lottery are unlikely to fund two very similar projects in the same area. You also need to show you understand the other services in your area, and to demonstrate how you will complement, rather than duplicate, these other services.

An application to Reaching Communities can seem daunting. However, funding from the Big Lottery has been central to the long-term sustainability of many of the charities we work with.

For example, Home Start Elmbridge first approached Bright Ideas after experiencing a steady decline in statutory sector core funding – reducing from 80% to 38%. This left the charity with a £50,000 gap in funding. With our support, Home Start Elmbridge submitted a successful Reaching Communities bid, resulting in £204,304 over 5 years. Jacintha Bennett, Home Start Elmbridge’s Development Officer told us:

I really do not think I could have done this without your time, help and support and I would just like to say a very big thank you. I can finally enjoy a good night’s sleep, knowing that we do not have to reduce any staff hours.

In the last 11 years, we have submitted 30 successful Lottery bids – securing almost £9million in funding, with a 96% success rate at second stage – so it can be done!

Please get in touch if you would like some advice and support around your own Lottery bid.