Big Lottery’s £15m digital fund opens

Written by Julian Blake, Editor at DigitalAgenda

The Big Lottery Fund’s new £15m digital fund, offering dedicated digital funding support to charities and community groups, is now open for entries. The fund, open for two years, offers grants of up to £500K for more established ‘digital pioneers’ and newer ‘digital natives’.

BLF created its new £15m digital fund, following “recognition that more could be done to enable charities and groups to make the most of digital opportunities”.

The fund, launched last week (pictured) is seen as a key step in delivering BLF’s digital ambitions, set out in its strategy to support charities and community groups.

The £15m fund will operate for two years and award grants of up to £500,000, says BLF. The first funding phase opened for applications last week and closes on 3 December.  The fund has two strands:

Digital pioneers – established charities, with a minimum annual income of over £500,000, that want to use digital to take a major leap forward.

Digital natives – more recently established organisations that are successfully using digital, but now need help scaling this up.

“The digital native’s key asset is their founders fundamental understanding of how to build impactful services that scale in the modern world, combined with that most precious of things: a blank slate to work from,” BLF chief digital officer Tom Steinberg explained in a blog last week.

Steinberg (pictured below, right, receiving his 2018 DigitalAgenda individual impact award), added: “For the digital pioneers (the more established charities) their killer asset is their current substantial user base, and the trust that many people already have in them.”

mikebrackentomsteinbergThe digital fund, part of BLF’s existing UK portfolio, is headed by Cassie Robinson, a highly respected figure on the UK tech-for-good scene. Initial funding decisions will be made by the UK funding committee in January and March.

Steinberg promised that the new year would see BLF “sharing specific initiatives to help those organisations who don’t know where to start with digital, or don’t have the resources to find out. We will also be looking at ways to encourage partnerships, collaboration and relationships between different-size organisations to share expertise and experience in this area.”

BLF uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions in health, wellbeing and environment. Since 2004 it has awarded projects a total of £9bn.

Notable digital projects already backed by BLF include Breast Cancer Care’s Becca app (£655K) and the Royal Society for Blind Children’s Impact Award-winning Wayfindr (£300K).

From 30 January, to mark the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery, the fund changes its name to the National Lottery Community Fund.

Find out more about the digital fund.


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