Alongside people and communities

The countdown is on as we head towards opening up our new funding opportunities in November. Here at Big Lottery Fund Scotland we’re finalising the details about how we’ll work differently in the future.

Voluntary Action Orkney  receives £502,273 for its befriending project
Voluntary Action Orkney received £502,273 for its befriending project from Big Lottery Fund

Over the last year we’ve looked at what worked with Investing in Communities, and have sought a wide range of opinions from a broad variety of people – applicants, grantholders, other funders, funding advisors and more – about how we make the most of this opportunity to change our approach.

What’s clear is that our priority remains to support people and communities in greatest need. So over the course of the next five years we want to:

  • Place our Lottery resources in the service of people and communities;
  • Drive forward a powerful focus on tackling inequality in Scotland, with real long term benefits for the people who live here; and
  • Become a highly connected and relevant funder, caring about the places we work, and responding quickly and flexibly to the opportunities we see that help make a difference

To make this happen we’ll be taking a new approach to funding.

We will…

Engage people and communities in our work and test new innovations (such as community budgeting) that put them in the driving seat of decisions about funding in their place.


And we will ask the work we fund to….

Ensure that the people involved meaningfully contribute to the design, planning and running of activity.



We will…

Research the needs of different places and people so that in assessment we spend less time evidencing need and more time finding out if what’s proposed will be effective in making the change people want.

And we will ask the work we fund to….

Enable people and communities to come together to achieve positive change using their own knowledge, skills and experience.

We will…

Spend time finding out about local places and use that knowledge to ensure that we are funding the right thing in the right community.

And we will ask the work we fund to….

Be well connected to organisations activities and services in their area and demonstrate the way they complement and improve provision for the people involved.

These approaches will be central to each of our new funding streams and will help us to better understand and make good judgements about strengths, opportunities and issues in communities across Scotland.

Over coming weeks we’ll be talking in more detail on this blog about our main funding offer so subscribe to this blog to ensure you’re always up to date with our latest news.


  1. This is very interesting. Identifying priority needs must be a challenge as a funder. How do you as a national funder determine local priorities against broad themes of disadvantage?

    The pure research data will only get you so far, given the huge diversity of needs out there and the poor correlation between that and local / Regional stats. On the other hand, if you ask umbrella groups what they think is needed, a lot will be working on projects themselves and the meeting would partly be an opportunity to line up a pitch to you for funds. (I’ve seen this at two umbrella charities I was working for.) How do you get to the key needs / how do those sit alongside other important needs that you didn’t spot?

    • Hello Jonathan, thanks for your comment, and apologies for not replying before now! I don’t know how we missed you.

      You raise a very good point, and it’s one that we have thought about a good bit internally. I totally agree that there are limitations to both ‘pure research’ and local discussion.

      So far we have been doing both the desk-based research and sitting down with a range of contacts in local authority areas across Scotland to get their takes on local issues and opportunities. This has included talking to the local public sector, third sector interfaces and other networks and umbrella organisations.

      We’ll continue to do this as things progress, and we aim to get as rounded a view as possible. But I think we are clear that the results of this ongoing work will guide our assessment of applications rather than explicitly determine our decisions. There should always be room for applicants to make their own case for why their work is needed

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