We get more requests for funding than we have money to give out – so we’re always left with difficult decisions to make. Whether you’re looking for £500 or £500,000, one of the most important factors we use to make these decisions is the level of community involvement in the planning and delivery of your work.
We believe that tapping into local people’s strengths, talents and energy will make your project stronger and more likely to succeed. It’s also great evidence that the work you want to do is truly important to the people in your community.
So today we’ll be looking at why you should involve your community in your application. In particular I’ll focus on our most popular fund – National Lottery Awards for All – where community involvement is vital to the success of your application.
Here are our answers to your top questions on involving your community in your application.
What do you mean “your community”?
In most cases we mean people living in your local area, and we’d expect work we fund to be open to everyone. But it could also be a community of people based around a common interest or issue – for example people in the LGBT+ community, people with dementia, or young carers.
How should we involve our community in planning and running our work?
It really depends on what works for you and your community. Some groups stay connected to their communities through regular surveys, running open days, setting up steering groups, or bringing more community members on their board or committee. Some just have regular chats with community members in person, or on social media.
We just want to see that anything we fund is truly based on what your community thinks is important, that there’s room for their suggestions and ideas, and that they will be able to stay involved over time. So make sure to mention this in your application!
Do we need to involve the community in planning the specific thing we are asking you to fund?
In most cases, yes. We’ll usually expect you to tell us how the community have been involved in planning the activities we’ll fund, as well as how they’ll help deliver them. For example, if you were running healthy eating classes for families, we’d expect you to have talked to families about whether this is something they’d want, and how you’d deliver them.
What if we just need to fix the village hall roof / buy a new piece of equipment?
We won’t necessarily expect you to have asked the community about the nitty-gritty of fixing the roof! But you should tell us why having a usable hall is a high priority for your community, and how you know this. Maybe your committee or membership includes a wide range of community members, and this issue constantly comes up at meetings and open days. Or perhaps most of the community groups in your area are run from the hall, making it vital for the area. If so, tell us!
The same applies equally to a piece of equipment, or anything else that might sound difficult to justify in isolation. Let us know why the things this will let you do are important to your community, and how you know this.
In our next blog on involving your community we look at the question of “what if we don’t or can’t work with the wider community?”, and consider some examples of what types of activities we might or might not fund.