National Lottery funding distributors announce big changes

31 Jul 2023 Jocelyn Horton    Last updated: 31 Jul 2023

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Both The National Lottery Community Fund and The National Lottery Heritage Fund have launched their new funding strategies.

The following is a summary of each:

The National Lottery Community Fund

Following a major consultation over the past year with 18,000 people and organisations, The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) has outlined its plans up until 2030 in their new funding strategy, ‘It starts with community.’ 

The strategy focuses on creating resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable, funding activities that strengthen and improve lives here in Northern Ireland and across the UK. 

Having listened to stakeholders, the funder knows communities want bolder change to tackle some of the big challenges they face. They’ve set out four community-led missions, which underpin their funding, learning and efforts to influence change:

  • supporting communities to come together 
  • supporting communities to be more environmentally sustainable 
  • supporting communities to help children and young people thrive  
  • supporting communities to enable people to live healthier lives

Increasing grassroots support

The benefits of flexible and unrestricted grants particularly to smaller charities with the ability to spend over a longer period of time has gathered evidence over the years.  In response, the new National Lottery Awards for All programme sees the ceiling for grants raise from £10,000 to up to £20,000 and the time money can be spent increases from one to two years. These changes come into force from Autumn 2023 and raises the funder’s investment in grassroots organisations to more than £1bn until 2030.

Additional changes include the flexibility to support longer-term or transformational change. Typically, funding will be between one to five years but as with the newly launched “The UK Fund,” which has earmarked £15m to helping communities become better connected, the funder may consider funding for up to 10 years.  

Building on Success

The National Lottery is approaching its 30th anniversary, so the strategy builds on its success of supporting life changing projects across the UK.

They’ve renewed their values and ways of working enabling them to adapt and act to changing circumstances. They’ll also take an equity-based approach to tackle inequality, choosing to invest most where there is greatest need and helping communities overcome barriers. And they continue to be committed to being an environmentally regenerative funder, putting the impact of the environment and nature at the heart of their decision making.

The new strategy will be implemented over the next two years and conversations with customers, stakeholders and communities will be held in the in the autumn to help them develop their new Northern Ireland funding programmes.

All current Northern Ireland programmes remain open to applications. More details will be shared as they become available.

You can keep up to date with upcoming delivery and implementation plans by visiting The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland.

 Read Mark Creaney’s Guest Blog: The National Lottery Community Fund - remember to consider your environmental impact when applying for funding.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Earlier this year, The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), the UK's largest funder of UK heritage, launched its new 10-year strategy Heritage 2033 with an anticipated £3.6 billion to be awarded to good causes over the next decade. The funder has now published details of its first delivery plan (2023-2026). The funding plans amount to a total of £1 billion between now and 2026.

Over the next three years, they aim to invest £870million via National Lottery Grants for Heritage and a further £140m in strategic initiatives to make a decisive difference for places, nature, and heritage in need. 

Changes to applications

After feedback from stakeholders, the funder learnt that financial resilience was key and that their processes could be simpler. As a result, the application process for grants from £10,000 to £10million will be simplified, making it more proportionate to the amount of money being requested. The funder also seeks to support organisations by ensuring their teams are on hand to help organisations develop the skills and capacity to ensure a sound long-term future. 

In recognition of rising costs, the upper grant limit has been raised from £5 million to £10 million, and the lower grant threshold will be raised from £3,000 to £10,000 in January 2024.

They are also exploring options to deliver grants under £10,000 through other organisations and initiatives, ensuring their funding can reach communities where it's needed most.

While they make these changes, there will be a short period when grants up to £250,000 will be closed for applications.

Important dates for applicants

Organisations planning to apply for a National Lottery Heritage Grant should note the following changes:

Changes for grant applications between £3,000 and £10,000.

  • Applications will close in December 2023.
  • From January 2024, the lower threshold will rise to £10,000 with no further grants below £10,000.
  • NLHF will be ‘exploring options' to distribute grants under £10,000 through partnerships and other initiatives.

Changes for grant applications between £10,000 and £250,000

  • Temporary closure to applications in November 2023
  • Planned reopening in January 2024 with new guidance and application forms supporting their Heritage 2033 strategy.

Changes for grant applications £250,000 and £10 million:

  • September 2023: Expressions of Interest will temporarily close.
  • November 2023: Development applications under the current Strategic Funding Framework close temporarily.
    • Delivery round applications are not affected
  • January 2024: Applications for grants from £250,000 and £10 million reopen with new guidance and applications under the Heritage 2033 strategy.

Until the changes take place, the current guidance and outcomes are to be used.

New initiatives

  • In partnership with departments in England and Wales, they will distribute more than £43 million in government funding in 2023-24.
  • In autumn 2023, they expect to announce the first nine of 20 location across the UK where NLHF will invest through its Place initiative.
  • In winter 2023, they’ll share details of their partnership to deliver urban nature recovery through their Nature Cities and Towns initiative.
  • In 2024-25 grants will be available to support the development of projects through the Integrated Landscapes initiative.
  • In 2024-25, grants will be available for the development and delivery of projects under the Heritage in Need initiative.

You can find out more here.'s picture
by Jocelyn Horton

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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