National Lottery Community Fund pledges improved support for grassroots charities

The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) has pledged to double the amount and length of funding available through its small grants programme to better support grassroots organisations.

Grants available through its National Lottery Awards for All scheme will increase from £10,000 to £20,000 and be available for two years rather than one. The changes come into effect from the Autumn.

The move boosts its investment in grassroots organisations to more than £1bn over the next seven years.

In addition, it has earmarked £15m for a newly created programme to open in August around connecting communities.

An extra £9m is to be available through its Climate Action Fund, taking its total investment in environmental causes to £35m this year.

The measures have been revealed in its new seven-year strategy on how it will distribute at least £4bn in National Lottery funding by 2030. It has been launched following a consultation that launched last year.

This highlights four key missions for the funder:

• Supporting communities to come together.
• To be environmentally sustainable.
• Help children and young people thrive.
• Enable people to live healthier lives.

The funder also pledges “to invest in places, people and communities experiencing poverty, disadvantage and discrimination”.

Two years ago a government report found that one in three NLCF staff had “either witnessed or personally experienced, harassment or discriminatory behaviour” amid allegations of a “culture of bullying” at the funder. Action pledged last year included setting up a whistleblowing hotline.

“Our new strategy will see us turbo charging our support for grassroots projects while also focusing our funding fire power on four of the big social issues facing the UK and its communities today,” said National Lottery Community Fund chief executive David Knott.

“The focus on community is great to see,” said Tim Davies-Pugh, chief executive of community business support organisation Power to Change.

“The four community led missions align with the everyday work we see on the ground amongst the 11,000 strong community business movement.”

Also commenting on the new strategy is Jo Bagby, cochair of Birmingham based Unity Hubb, which supports local communities through workshops, classes, groups and projects.

“It’s fantastic to hear that The National Lottery Community Fund is increasing support to smaller grassroots organisations, as these so often act as cornerstones in their local communities,” she said.

“The funding that we have received has helped us to bring local people together in ways that positively impact their health and wellbeing, as well as build community at a time when personal resources have been stretched for many since COVID and now the cost of living.”

An overhaul to the NLCF’s strategy had been called for by government in its response to a review of civil society carried out by Conservative MP Danny Kruger that called for more local and community led distribution of funding.

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