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Grant making

More information about how we fund
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To make sure we make the best use of Lottery money, we carry out research studies. These help us understand the advantages and disadvantages of different funding mechanisms.

Small grants

Our small grants can provide a lifeline to many organisations. We, and other funders, provide small grants to grassroots projects that bring benefits to communities across the UK.

Our research into small grants programmes highlights how they can be helpful by:

  • their relatively simple application processes
  • acting as stepping-stones to help develop the skills and confidence needed to grow organisations' work and funding
  • encouraging monitoring to help projects improve their project and internal management systems.

Awards for All

Awards for All is our biggest small grants programme. In 2011/12, over 77% of all our grants were made through Awards for All. Yet, this only accounted for 10% of our funding. Application numbers tell us that Awards for All is a popular programme. Our research then shows us how these small grants make a difference.


Sometimes we out-source our grant-making. This might be through trusts, award partners or portfolio programmes. Out-sourcing is not always the most cost-effective way to distribute money but it can bring wider value. It can allow us to work with partners who have specialist expertise and provide access to new groups and networks. It can also enable us to support projects over longer periods of time.

Our research tells us that the decision to outsource is a complex area. A wide range of factors need consideration. Whether we use trusts, award partners or portfolio programmes can lead to different benefits and difficulties too.

Whichever route we choose, good relationships remain essential. Developing and maintaining these relationships can have a significant impact on outsourcing success.

You can find out more about our outsourcing under Publications below.

More about the research

Awards for All

We commissioned Rocket Science and CM International to consider how our Awards for All programme can support groups. They looked at:

  • patterns of applications across the UK
  • what different stakeholders think is important about Awards for All
  • applicants' and grant-holders' experience of working with us at the Fund.


In 2011 we commissioned a partnership between the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University and Baker Tilly. They examined whether and how out-sourcing helps us reach those most in need.

The study also involved the development of a new piece of software. This can help project teams consider whether out-sourcing is the best route for new programmes.

Small grants

To explore the benefits and potential of small grants, we commissioned a study by the Policy Studies Institute. In 2008, they looked at:

  • the purpose of small grants and their important features
  • the range of organisations, projects and outcomes small grants fund
  • how we could improve our small grants programmes.



Outsourcing grant-making report

Small grants

Small grants thematic evaluation report
Small grants thematic evaluation report summary