The Big Lottery Fund has told a House of Lords committee that funders, including itself, should be more open to funding “risky” projects.
The Big Lottery Fund, which is the largest community funder in the UK, made the recommendation in its submission to the Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee. It said: “Funders, including the Big Lottery Fund, should be more open to funding ‘risky’ projects.”
It said that it has trialled a more “conversational approach” to grant giving, where it has a strong focus on “grassroots social innovations that address the root cause of pressing issues”.
Big Lottery Fund said that it has also taken a “test and learn approach to funding”, by “supporting a cluster of projects around themes, including ageing, dementia and food, to find projects and interventions that work well”. It mentioned its funding of projects such as Apps for Good, and said that “as a funding community, we must come together to support more projects like these”.
In the submission it said that it, as well as other funders, “should simplify funding application processes”.
It said that too often funders “create barriers to innovative projects and hard to reach communities seeking funding” through complex processes.
It said: “At the fund we are moving our small grants online, reaching out to new communities (e.g. by running funding fairs targeting rural communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and talking about the Fund in Urdu on local Manchester radio) and cutting processing times. But more needs to be done.”
The submission also recommended that the sector “better engage with the opportunities and threats provided by the shift to digital”.
It said: “The ever increasingly role of digital in UK life presents both dramatic opportunities for change, and poses significant threats to individual and collective wellbeing. The digital revolution has allowed people to build new communities and convene existing ones with ease.”
The Lloyds Bank Foundation has said that foundations are well-placed to support small and local charities, who often work with the most at risk individuals and communities in society but are underfunded.
It said: “Engaging people who feel ‘left behind’ has to start with understanding the challenges they face and support they need, and small and local charities are the gateway for enabling this to happen.
“Foundations are well placed to support and facilitate this, given the strong relationships they hold with charities across the country and the information they gather about needs and interventions.”