And fundraising just got harder …..

So the voluntary and community sector will get less Lottery money.  Isn’t that just great?  What started out as being “our” pot of money all those years ago, then got raided to fund bolt-on NHS services and bolt-on education services.  And then came the Olympics.  That’s not even mentioning bizarre “heritage” purchasing decisions allowing the mega-rich to “buy” their own paintings from themselves with Lottery money and carry on keeping them in their houses with a spurious and usually ignored requirement that the public be allowed in to see it one day a year.

Rant over (for the time being).  The next blow falls in April next year, when the percentage of Lottery money for arts, sports and heritage increases to 18% each, and the remaining (reduced) 46% is available for the whole of the rest of the voluntary sector – community projects, social care for vulnerable people, environmental projects, scout huts, etc etc etc.

Oh and how nice, we’ve got advance warning.  From April 2012, arts, sports & heritage get an increase to 20% each, and the general BIG Lottery Fund goes down to 40%.

Yet at the same time as the available funds reduce, BIG Lottery will be coming up with their own ideas about new streams under which we must bid.  The general, unrestricted pot, to which we bid when we have a highly particular local solution to a local problem, shrinks further.

One strand of BIG Lottery funding continues to be tied into the TV programme “Secret Millionnaire”, and this TV tie-in idea has spread with a new partnership between BIG Lottery and the BBC’s “Springwatch” programme, with a Community Wildlife funding stream giving grants of up to £10k for a one-year project.  Deadlines are Sept 22nd and November 24th.  All very good, but it further limits the funds available for YOUR ideas to meet YOUR communities’ needs.

At the same time, the new Government’s “Office for Civil Society” has announced the closing of the Grassroots Grants scheme, operated in most parts of England by Community Foundations (see www.communityfoundations.org.uk for your local one).  It will be replaced next April by a new “Communities First” fund, the size of which is as yet unknown, as are the targets and the regional distribution.  An ann0uncement is due in December.

So the outlook, not surprisingly, continues to be gloomy.  We need to be smart, well-prepared when a new funding pot opens up, quick to respond, and have projects that are well-evidenced and well-presented.  Scan through earlier blog posts on the Ten Steps to the Perfect Funding Bid for free advice.

©  Tamara Essex 2010

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