- All voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations are eligible to apply.
- Funding is available between £30,000 and £500,000 for projects lasting between two to five years.
- We can consider funding capital costs of up to £100,000 within revenue projects.
- Projects specifically targeting young people aged between 8 and 25 should consider applying to our Empowering Young People programme. Please check the programme page or give us a call.
Watch our short animated video to get an idea of what we mean when we say people-led. You can read more about what we are looking for in our blogs about how to make your project people led, strengths based and connected.
Our programme will support projects that clearly meet the following two programme outcomes:
- people make changes that improve their lives and
- communities build on their strengths and share learning.
We are looking for projects that embrace the three key themes of the programme. We have created a short animated video to help you get an idea of what we mean when we say people-led.
We have also put together a series of blogs to help you better understand what the three key themes mean:
People-led: The idea for the project must come from the people you will be working with in your community. The people need to be involved in the development, design and delivery of their project. Have you spoken to people in your community about your project? Have you listened to what they've said?
Strengths-based: we’d like to support people and communities to build on the knowledge, skills and experience they already have to make the changes they want. What is working well in your community? How can we support you to make those things even better?
Connected: We want to know that you have a good understanding of other activities and services in your community and can show how your project will complement these. Have you spoken to other groups in your area that are doing similar or related work? Have you thought about how you could support each other?
To help you understand what we are looking for, we have compiled some stories about our funded projects that are already people-led, strengths-based and connected:
Talk to us – we're really interested in your ideas. And we're here to support you to make the best application possible.
If you have a project idea call us on 028 9055 1455 and press option 1 to speak directly to a member of our team.
This is an opportunity to tell us about your project, what it will do, who will benefit from it, why it’s needed and you can ask us questions.
Based on our conversation we’ll advise you if you are ready to apply and send you an application form. Or we may offer you some advice for you to consider on the three key themes of people-led, strengths-based and connected before sending you an application form.
You can talk to us as many times as you need to chat about your project idea. This is not an assessment. This is a chance to get early feedback to further develop your idea. There are no deadlines on this programme so you can take as much time as you need.
Alternatively, if you prefer a face to face chat about your project idea we are happy to call with you when we are in your area, as we are working more locally across Northern Ireland.
Once we have received your completed application form, we will assess it - see what happens next.
A sample application form is available below for you to use as a guide to consider when you contact us.
The Big Lottery Fund is a living wage friendly funder. This means that we encourage our applicants to pay their staff the UK Living Wage.
1. Once we received your completed application form
We will send you an acknowledgement and let you know the name of your funding officer.
2. Assessing your application
Your funding officer will contact you to arrange a visit that suits you and may ask you for some additional information. This could include, for example, a detailed project budget, staffing information, a copy of your organisation’s latest accounts and, if your work is existing, some evidence of the impact or difference your project has made to date.
3. Face to Face assessment visit
During the visit your funding officer will discuss your project and explore how it meets the programme outcomes and three key themes. Your funding officer will also discuss with you how the project will be delivered and the difference the project will make.
4. Assessment report
Once the visit is complete your funding officer will write up an assessment report which will consider:
- How your project meets the programme outcomes and three key themes
- If delivery and cost of the project is appropriate and realistic
- If your organisation has the skills, experience and resources to deliver the project.
The assessments will be moderated by our team. If further clarification is needed, your funding officer will contact you.
There are different decision routes depending on how strong your application is and the amount of funding you have requested. Your project is presented at decisions meetings alongside other projects and this is a competitive process.
The team will meet to discuss your project and if it does not strongly meet the assessment criteria (outlined in point 4 above) your project will not be awarded funding. This decision will be endorsed by the Senior Head of Funding and your funding officer will inform you of the decision.
If your project strongly meets the assessment criteria, then who makes the decision will depend on the amount of funding requested:
- For applications requesting funding of £200,000 and under:
Projects at this level will be presented at a meeting of experienced staff from across the organisation. Decisions will be made at these meetings and endorsed by the Senior Head of Funding. Your funding officer will inform you of the decision.
- For applications requesting funding over £200,001:
Projects at this level will be considered by our Northern Ireland Committee, which is made up of six people. You can see further details of these people on our website here. Your funding officer will inform you of the decision.
6. Communicating the decision
We will let you know our decision within four months from submission of your completed application.
If your project is unsuccessful your funding officer will provide some feedback by phone and you can also arrange a feedback meeting. You will also receive a letter confirming the decision.
If your project is successful, we will send you an offer letter and your funding officer will be in contact to discuss next steps.