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Community-focused evaluations
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At Big Lottery Fund, we support communities in a variety of ways. Programmes aimed at supporting communities as a whole are:

We realise that many communities who are most in need are hard to reach. But our programmes show it’s not impossible to help. By sharing how we've helped these communities, we hope you can share our learning too.


Through our programmes we’ve seen communities can be helped by:

  • giving people more opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge
  • giving people time to get involved, work out how to work together as a group and debate priorities
  • bringing communities together and improving relationships
  • providing support to work out what they need and link to others who can help
  • helping people to contribute to their local communities and tackle local problems
  • improving local environments
  • helping people to be happier and healthier
  • improving community services.

You can see what some of our projects do by watching our video case studies:

Factors for success

Some of the important factors that have helped our programmes succeed include:

  • the value of demand-led funding -
    demand-led funding allows communities to address issues that are important to them
  • the importance of self-evaluation -
    sharing ideas and learning in a proportionate way can have lots of benefits
  • the importance of long term funding and sustainability -
    long term funding so communities do not have to rush to spend and support to plan for what happens after our funding has ended.
  • the importance of volunteering -
    volunteers themselves learn new skills and the project they work on has increased capacity – this means it can do more to help communities in need.
  • trusting in communities' own abilities -
    trusting communities to make decisions for themselves works; but they need time, support and funding to do this.

We have also seen the importance of shared learning. We’re sharing what we know with you via our website. But we also want to encourage projects we fund to share information with each other.  In doing so, projects can learn from and support each other even after our funding ends.

More about the research

People and Places

Since 2005, People and Places has been bringing people in Wales together to make their communities better places to live. We're funding projects which:

  • revitalise communities
  • improve community relationships
  • enhance local environments, community services and buildings.

We commissioned Wavehill Consulting to evaluate the programme between 2007 and 2013.


People and Places fourth report
People and Places third year report
People and Places third year summary
People and Places second year report
People and Places second year summary
People and Places first year report
People and Places first year summary
Special bulletin celebrating our £100 million investment through People and Places

You can also watch some videos of our People and Places case studies:

Reaching Communities

Our Reaching Communities programme supports groups across England and Northern Ireland. Projects focus on a variety of specific issues but all support community life as a whole. We’ve invested over £500 million in nearly 2,200 projects as part of the programme.

We commissioned Ecorys to carry out a Reaching Communities evaluation between 2007 and 2011. They considered how projects approached the ideas of ‘need’ and ‘most in need’. Understanding this helps us to learn how we identify and meet need in future programmes.

The final year evaluation examines the difference the projects we funded make. It also looks at how projects share their learning and carry on their work after our funding ends. Case studies from the evaluation illustrate the diversity of projects that we’ve funded. They highlight a range of approaches and outcomes that we can learn from - how projects have involved volunteers and beneficiaries is just one of these.


Reaching Communities four year evaluation
Reaching Communities three year evaluation year
Reaching Communities case studies

Fair Share Trust

The Fair Share Trust programme was managed by UK Community Foundations, formerly the Community Foundation Network between 2003 and 2013. It enabled communities across the UK to make their own decisions about what mattered to them and how to make things better. We invested over £50 million in projects ranging from £5,000 to £250,000 across Wales, Northern Ireland and England. The Fair Share Trust was part of our wider Fair Share initiative, which also included targeted, open funding by the then Community Fund.

We commissioned Sally Downs Consulting to evaluate our Fair Share initiative, from 2003 to 2009. The evaluation showed that the long-term Trust model led to more sustained change than simply channelling funding into targeted areas. A later evaluation of the impact of the Fair Share Trust collects together all the learning in one handy impact website.


The first report focuses mainly on the background to Fair Share and the Community Fund's open funding programme.
Fair Share Trust first full evaluation report
Fair Share Trust first evaluation summary

The second report highlights how the Fair Share Trust was set up and how it operates in local neigbourhoods.
Fair Share Trust second full evaluation report
Fair Share Trust second evaluation summary

The final report looks back at the experience of the Fair Share Trust over its first five years.
Fair Share Trust final evaluation report
The Fair Share Trust: learning from the first five years
Report of survey of local agents
Annexes to the final report

Our Place

Our Place aims to empower local people and organisations to bring about change in their neighbourhood. It was initially launched in 5 communities across Scotland in 2010.  Since then approximately £12 million has been invested across 25 projects that have worked to set up new trusts, develop community spaces, deliver services for older people, young people, children and families, build community capacity and more.

Our Place launched in another seven communities across Scotland in summer 2014.  Learning collected over the last five years has improved our approach to working with specific areas and gathering learning continues to be important for development of the initiative. At the start of 2015 we carried out research to find out about the experience of the Our Place grantholders and the impact they think funding? is having in their community.

Grantholders told us about the different challenges that their organisations had faced and the difference that their project and the wider initiative is making in their areas. They offered feedback for the Big Lottery Fund and advice for the people involved in the new Our Place communities.

If you’d like to speak to us about Our Place or ask any specific questions about the report please contact helen.curry@biglotteryfund.org.uk.


Our Place learning report
Our Place learning report summary

Legacy 2014

As the Commonwealth Games came to Scotland in 2014 we invested more than £15m to a wide range of programmes that supported communities to benefit from the legacy of the Games. Working closely with various partner organisations, we funded projects that helped communities to experience and benefit from the Games. As part of the long term evaluation of ‘Legacy’ we submitted a report to Scottish Government highlighting how our funding has contributed to the ‘Games Legacy for Scotland’ plan which aimed to achieve a legacy of more Active, Connected, Sustainable and Flourishing communities.
The report provides a snapshot of our funding to date and indicates how each programme has brought positive change to communities throughout the whole of Scotland. Some communities have been inspired to get more active and encouraged to gain new skills through volunteering, while others have showcased and celebrated cultural diversity and creativity at a community level. New partnerships and collaborations have been forged, by both us and the organisations and groups that we have supported, demonstrating how our funding helped Glasgow 2014 meet its aspiration to be an inclusive and fully accessible Games and deliver ‘a Games for Everyone’.

Big Lottery Fund’s contribution to the 2014 Commonwealth Games Legacy

You can see some of the great Legacy projects we funded in this short film