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We don’t want authors – we want you!

December 20, 2018
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Photo by Christina Morillo on

Inspired by a chance conversation on a train Funding Officer, Laura Aitchison, tells us why you don’t need to be an author to write a good funding application.

Fear of the Funding Jungle – “I’m no author, get me out of here!!”

Friday night and I was chatting away to my “train neighbour” over a crushed Aero bubbly I’d rescued from the bottom of my bag. The topic turned to work and my job as a funding officer at Big Lottery Fund Scotland. As the words left my mouth she appeared excited, then disheartened.

“That’s great! I run a community group you know! But we could never apply for Big Lottery funding, I’m no author”.

I started to wonder how many other potential applicants feel this way? So, if you take one thing from this blog, I want you to know this: we care if you can make a difference in your community, not if you can get a triple word score in Scrabble.

Use your resources

My advice to you when thinking about funding is have a look at our website. If your project sounds like something that both matches what we look to fund and is something you are confident you can deliver – get in touch! This goes for both practiced fundraisers as well as those who have never written a funding application before. A conversation with us can really help to focus your application

Plain English please

Speaking as a funding officer, an application in basic language packs more of a punch than a page of buzz words or jargon. Using long words doesn’t tell me that you and your community are able to run an inspiring project. However, it does use up valuable word count on your application. From a personal point of view, it makes it an easier read if your application is clear, focused and to the point.

Focus on your project

It may seem “too” simple but the key things we want to know are:

  • what you want to do
  • how you plan to do it
  • when it will happen
  • what difference it will make.

There’s no set “tick box” words or trick questions. Write as if you were explaining your project to someone who has just moved from Antarctica – with no knowledge of your idea and whose brain is still a bit jet lagged. Be simple and clear. Remember to add your passion for the project and double-check the guidance notes (especially the “people led” section).

JK Rowling may have a way with words, but could she run a project that really makes a difference as well as your community group? Don’t let writing a complex application put you off.

We don’t want authors – we want you!

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Fife community group gets a big surprise

November 29, 2018

This is the incredible moment when we surprised the Expressions School of Dance in Methil, Fife with the news that their first ever National Lottery funding application had been successful.

Founder of Expressions School of Dance, Amanda Mitchell, and her students thought they were being filmed as part of their National Lottery Awards for All funding application until Funding

Officer, Jessie Duncan, shared the real reason for her visit.

The award of £8,400 will help the group to meet the growing demand for its classes which build confidence and self-esteem of people of all ages.

Margaret Gear (left) and Amanda Mitchell of Expressions School of Dance

The group is based in The Studio, the former Innerleven Church, turned community hub in Methill. At least 50 people come through its doors each day to enjoy a range of dance and movement classes for all people of all ages and abilities, as well as exercise classes for older people, pilates classes, a creche and a disco for people with additional support needs.

On hearing the news of the award dance teacher, Amanda, said: “This is amazing. The last thing I expected to hear today was the fabulous news that we’ve got our National Lottery Awards for All

funding. This means that we can now bring on board a new member of staff to help us accommodate the growing demand for our classes and to make sure that more people who want to join can do so. “Being based in the heart of the community means that we get so many different people coming through our doors and it’s always a delight to see them grow in confidence, meet new friends and become part of a wider family.”

Students of Expressions School of Dance celebrating the good news

A National Lottery Awards for All spokesperson said: “A huge congratulations to Expressions School of Dance on its first ever National Lottery award. Small amounts of funding can often make the biggest difference to small community, arts and sports projects and this is a great example of this in action.  It’s lovely to be able to surprise a group in this way but we can only do this, thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players.”

Expressions School of Dance received its funding from National Lottery Awards for All Scotland, a joint awards programme from the Big Lottery Fund, Creative Scotland and sportscotland.

To find out more about what this fund could do for your community visit our National Lottery Awards for All website.


November 25, 2018

£1.6m for ten community ownership projects

Residents of Rousay in Orkney, population 216, have plans to purchase 1,710 acres of peatland and pasture in order to secure the site of their community owned wind turbine, improve facilities for locals and visitors and to create new jobs.

Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust (REWDT) receives £260,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the Trumland Estate, taking 15% of the island into community hands. The estate, which features archaeological remains including chambered cairns and a crannog, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and community ownership will create part-time employment opportunities for a Project Officer and a Ranger as well as allowing the trust to explore improvements to broadband and mobile connectivity.

John Garson, Chair of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust says the group will use the money to create improvements for residents and visitors.

“The REW DT board and staff are thrilled to hear this good news, now we can press ahead with our plans to make this project into a real community asset.  The project will help promote Rousay as an attractive place to live and provide two employment opportunities.  The follow on stages of this project will also have significant environmental advantages, will encourage and make it easier for locals and tourists to visit the area, provide well needed additional public toilets and have the possibility of aiding digital connectivity across our islands. We can’t wait to get started.”

Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust is one of ten groups across Scotland sharing in £1,646,972 of Scottish Land Fund cash and Minister, Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said of today’s grants: “This is great news for the residents of Rousay, and the other successful projects, which are fine examples of land and assets coming into community ownership, allowing local people to get the maximum benefit from them. I know that today’s funding marks a major milestone for them, and will make a real difference in helping those successful community groups to realise their ambitions – enabling communities to press ahead with their ideas, which will be of major benefit to these areas for many years to come.”

John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, said: Through these grants the Scottish Land Fund is helping people from all over Scotland to make a difference in both inner city areas and in rural communities. From land purchases for amenity and the provision of affordable housing, to creating facilities for local people and visitors, these grants provide the funding to provide solutions to local needs.”

Sandra Holmes, Head of Community Assets at HIE, said: “These groups are working really hard to make their community ambitions a reality and it’s great that they have secured SLF funding to help achieve this. We are delighted to see four island communities being successful in this round. The awards will bring important assets into community ownership and give them the resources and control they need to deliver exciting projects for the benefit of people living and visiting their areas. We wish them all the very best in their new ventures.”

Other projects receiving Scottish Land Fund cash today are:


Award – £229,140

This group will acquire a former schoolhouse adjacent to the existing Glenfarg Village Hall in Perthshire to create meeting rooms and a cafe in order to reduce social isolation and accommodate a variety of community services and events.



Award- £54,000

The award will allow this group to purchase 21 acres of woodland adjoining the grounds of the community-owned Castle Loch in Lochmaben, near Dumfries, to improve access to the loch and create new volunteering opportunities in woodland restoration and management.



Award – £38,032

With their grant this group will purchase a piece of land opposite Hoswick Visitor Centre in Shetland in order to create additional car parking and cycle space and to install an electrical vehicle charging point as well as adding outdoor seating  and an interpretation area.



Award – £178,000

Money from the Scottish Land Fund will allow this group to purchase the Kenmuir Arms Hotel in New Luce, Dumfries & Galloway, in order to create a multi-purpose community space with shop, post office, tearoom, restaurant and accommodation for cyclists and walkers on the Southern Upland Way.



Award – £187,000

Papay Development Trust will purchase a four-bed detached house on the Isle of Papa Westray in the Orkney Isles to help meet the urgent need for long-stay, affordable family homes for rent.



Award – £324,000

The group will purchase the distinctive, modernist ‘B’ listed ‘Pyramid’ of Anderston – Kelvingrove Parish Church in Glasgow in order to refurbish and reconfigure it; to make it more accessible and to maximise use of the building by new and existing community groups and social enterprises.



Award – £147,600

With cash from the Scottish Land Fund, Westray Development Trust will purchase the former Harbour Master’s house in the village of Pierowall in Westray in the Orkney Isles and transform it into four apartments for affordable rent in order to meet the acute shortage of accommodation on the island.



Award – £130,000

This group will purchase the former Bank of Scotland building in Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, and develop it as two affordable homes and a bunkhouse for visitors. It will also provide new employment, training and volunteering opportunities for local people.



Award – £99,200

TDT will take over ownership of Tarves Community Hub, which this group has already converted into a community cafe, office space and meeting venue. Owing the Hub will allow the group to provide further community support.


The Scottish Land Fund is keen to support more applications from across Scotland and particularly within urban areas. Groups considering applying should contact the Big Lottery Fund to discuss their idea at or by phoning 0300 123 7110


Ends Copy//


For more information on this release please contact

SLF/Big Lottery Fund Press Office

07766 742142


Highland and Islands Enterprise Press Office

01463 24424


Notes to Editors

  • The Scottish Land Fund reopened to applications in April 2016. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, both of which have extensive experience of helping communities to acquire and develop their assets for over a decade.
  • The SLF Committee was appointed following the normal procedures for public appointments.
  • The BIG Lottery Fund distributes lottery funding to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. It also uses its expertise in grant-giving to distribute non-Lottery funding. Full details of the BIG Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: BIG Lottery Fund Public Enquiries Line call: 0300 123 7110
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) delivers the Scottish Government Economic Strategy across more than half of Scotland – from Shetland to Argyll and from the Hebrides to Moray. It aims to support businesses and social enterprises; strengthen communities and fragile areas; develop key sectors, and create the conditions for a competitive and low carbon region. HIE has an annual budget of more than £75m and employs around 250 people in locations around the Highlands and Islands. See more at



Issued: 22 November 2018


How to run an online campaign

November 22, 2018

Five hands joined together in a fist over laptops and power cablesAs an organisation working to benefit people and communities or to tackle particular social issues, you may be interested in running online campaigns to raise awareness of what you do or to solve a specific problem.

To help with this, we’ve put together a few tips for planning and delivering an online campaign, based on our own experiences over the past several years.

1. Set out objectives

Before you do anything, you should be clear about what you want to achieve with your campaign – the rest of your planning will revolve around delivering these objectives.

So whether that’s raising awareness of your work, getting more people to call your new helpline, or recruiting a bunch of new volunteers, make sure to write down two to four campaign aims. It can be helpful to tie these into your organisation’s strategic objectives.

Note – this is also a good time to figure out how you’re going to measure if you’ve met your objectives and what targets you’ll have. For instance, your targets could include total social media reach, the amount of calls your helpline receives, or the number of volunteers you recruit.

Read more…

Success Rates – Autumn 2018

October 30, 2018

Success rates Autumn 2018 (40%)

Thinking about applying to us for funding and wondering what your chances for success are? The best way to find out the likelihood of being awarded funding is usually to get in touch and chat to us about your idea! However, we also like to give you an idea of how busy or competitive our funds are in general, so this blog post will give you a breakdown of our current success rates for the last six months up to 30th September 2018. 

Overall average success rate 40%

Before we do that, we wanted to let you know that our current average success rate for applications across all of our funds is just over 40%. This is because we always receive more good applications than we have money to fund, and are currently getting even more requests than usual – so competition for our grants is very high right now!

Read more…

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