Skip to content

10 Ways To Give Your Application the Best Chance of Success

October 15, 2020

We receive applications for amazing projects every day but we aren’t able to fund them all.

Sometimes application forms we receive that aren’t fully completed or have incorrect data are considered incomplete and we can’t proceed with them.

To help you out, we’ve looked at some of the most common mistakes and come up with some advice on how to avoid them.  

  1. Be sure about what type of organisation your group is.

    Are you a voluntary organisation, a charity, a company or something else? simply an unregistered community/voluntary organisation, or a charity?
  2. These are legal terms and should be double checked before applying for funding.
  3. Make sure the organisation name on your application is the same as on your governing document.
  4. Applications need to have at least two people on their board or committee who aren’t married, in a long-term relationship, living together at the same address, or related by blood.
  5. Ensure your senior contact can be legally responsible for ensuring the application is supported by the organisation applying.

    They’ll be responsible for ensuring your project is delivered  will be delivered as you say it will.
  6. The main and senior contact need to be different people and they can’t be related.
  7. It may seem obvious, but make sure to fully complete the form. If there are incomplete details like home addresses or dates of birth for your contacts, it means we can’t fund you.
  8. If you are a company registered with Companies House, the senior contact needs to be registered as a Company Director or Company Secretary.
  9. If you are a registered charity, the senior contact needs to be listed as a trustee on the Charity Commission’s website.
  10. The name and address of your organisation needs to match what is registered at the Charity Commission or Companies House.
  11. The bank account name in your application needs to be the same as your organisation’s name as set out on your governing document.

Some more top tips:

  • Don’t forget, if your application is incomplete, then it can’t be assessed.
  • Make sure you thoroughly read through the funding programme information first to make sure your project idea meets the criteria. 
  • Double check you answer all the questions in the form – this is your chance to tell us about the work you do to support your community.
  • If you have a great idea for a project and think you might be eligible for funding, get in touch with us and tell us about it.

You can give our team a call on 028 4378 0003 or email us at

Top tips for completing your application form

September 23, 2020

We try to make applying to us as simple and straightforward as possible. However, we do know that filling in application forms can be a daunting experience for many people.

So, we’ve developed the following tips and advice based on some of the most common mistakes people have made when applying.

What you need to do first

We can only proceed with an application if we have all the information. We regularly receive applications that don’t have all the information that we need.

So it’s really important to read through the funding programme information to make sure your project idea meets all the criteria.

Hints and tips

  1. Double check your organisation details
  • Make sure you tell us what type of organisation you are e.g. unregistered community/voluntary organisation, charity and so on. These are legal terms and should be checked before you apply.
  • If you have a registration number make sure you have it to hand before you apply.
  • The organisation name you use on your application form must be the same as on your governing document so please check this.
  • It’s really important that organisations that apply have at least two people on their board or committee who aren’t related.  By related we mean married, in a long-term relationship, living together at the same address, or related by blood.
  • If you are a registered charity or company, the name and address of your organisation must be the same as what is registered at the Charity Commission or Companies House.
  1. Make sure you use the right contact people.
  • The main and senior contacts must be different people and unrelated. We can’t proceed with your application if both contacts are the same person.
  • Your senior contact must be legally responsible for the application. This means that they need to ensure that the application is supported by the organisation applying, the funding will be delivered as intended and monitoring will be carried out as part of the project if we decide to fund it.
  • Make sure you give us correct and complete home addresses and dates of birth for all contacts.
  • If you are a company registered with Companies House, the senior contact also needs to be registered as a Company Director or Company Secretary.
  • If you are a registered charity, the senior contact needs to be listed as a trustee on the Charity Commission’s website.
  1. Make sure you attach any additional information requested with your application form
  • The bank account name must be the same as your organisation’s name as set out on your governing document.
  1. Get a critical friend


  • Double check you answered all the questions on the form – this is your chance to tell us about the work you do to support your community. Why not get someone to act as a critical friend and read over your application, particularly the finances section?

What’s next?

If you have a great idea for a project and think you might be eligible for funding, please see our website for more information.

We are happy to chat to you about your project ideas and are available to support you at every stage, even if you are just at the initial stage of developing your project idea.

Give our team a call on 028 4378 0003 or email us at should you have any questions about applying or want to chat through your application.


Top tips for virtual meetings

September 14, 2020

We want to hear from communities about their project ideas and, with the current government guidelines around social distancing, this will mean meeting and chatting online.

Hosting (or attending) a good virtual meet up isn’t always easy so we’ve put together some hints and tips to make sure you get the most out of them.

1.  Organise them well

Good organisation is the key to running effective virtual meetings. Here is a short list of things to get you started:

a)    Calendar appointments

Send out a calendar invite well in advance of the meeting and make sure your attendees confirm whether they can attend or not. This will help everyone to plan ahead. Make sure to add the meeting details and main talking points to your calendar content.

b)    Have a notification system

Set up your calendar invite to make sure everyone involved receive a notification at least 15 minutes before the meeting.

Like when meeting Face to Face; not showing up, being late, or showing up unprepared are sure fire ways to get meetings off to a bad start.

c)  Structure your meeting

Structure your meeting clearly. This way everyone will know where exactly their question or comment belongs. An easy way to keep regular meetings organised is having a consistent structure.

If it’s a one-time meeting, make sure all participants have the agenda beforehand.

2.  Focus on what’s important

Every meeting should have a clear objective. Remember that you are taking up everyone’s valuable time. Asking participants to stay and listen to minor issues that don’t affect them is not an efficient way to run a meeting. 

3.  Adopt a video-on policy

a)    Communication is more effective when non-verbal clues are involved. Of course, what you’re saying is very important, but how you’re saying it is also valuable.

b)    Put a face to your voice

Humans respond well to faces. Facial expressions humanise your virtual meetings so using video in your virtual meetings is a must. 

c)  Don’t multitask

Research shows that multitasking harms your performance so really try to stay focused on the meeting at hand.

d)    A video chat should be treated the same as a face to face meet up. Always look directly at your camera when chatting to your audience.

4.  Acknowledge everyone in the virtual room

Even if you meet regularly, it’s crucial that you, as a host, acknowledge everyone who is present at the meeting. Be sure to take the time at the beginning of the meeting to introduce everyone on the call. 

5.  Share the mic

There should always be one person coordinating the meeting, however, all participants should have the opportunity to offer their input. 

Do not allow your meeting to be dominated by the more extrovert individuals, allow the quieter members their screen time too. 

Here are a few ways to try involve more introverted attendees during a virtual meeting:

●     Ask their opinion on specific tasks/aspects
●     Ask for quick updates
●     Ask if they have anything to add
●     Ask them if they have any questions

6.  Keep them short & sweet

If possible, keep your meetings between 15 to 45 minutes so everyone stays focused and makes optimum use of the time.

7.  Agree on the next steps

All action points must be written down, deadlines agreed upon and tasks distributed amongst all attendees. Always reserve 5-10 minutes for wrapping-up your conversation. Determine if and when a follow-up meeting should be planned.

If you have any tips of your own, make sure to share them with us on Facebook  – @TNLCommunityFundNorthernIreland – or on Twitter – @tnlcomfundni

Three Top Tips for School-based Projects

September 4, 2020

With schools in Northern Ireland back for the first time in months, we’ve seen a rise in applications for school projects and equipment.

We can fund schools, groups applying on behalf of schools like PTAs and ‘Friends of’ groups, and charities that work in schools, as long as they’re able to show the project is open to the wider community.

The most popular way we fund schools is through our National Lottery Awards for All programme. And we’ve funded lots of fantastic school-based projects over the years.

Unfortunately though, many of the more recent applications we’ve received are for things we can’t fund.

With that in mind, here’s our top three tips if you are applying for funding to do work in a school:

1. Steer clear of teaching time

We can’t fund school-based activities during teaching time. This is the case whether you are a school applying for a grant, or a charity applying to run some activities for pupils in a school.

Even if the activities are quite different from normal lessons, we can’t fund them if they will replace teaching activity.

Before school and after school are fine, as are break times and lunchtime.

If there’s no other time the activities could happen it’s best to speak to us before applying, and we’ll keep you right.

2. Avoid applying for equipment that could be used in school teaching time

This is a common request, but isn’t something we can fund.

For example, we are unlikely to fund sports equipment that could be used in P.E. lessons or computers for IT classes. This is the case even if the equipment will also sometimes be used outside of school hours.

We understand that COVID-19 social distancing rules mean many schools want to install outdoor teaching areas to ease the pressure on classrooms. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can fund. We aren’t allowed to fund equipment that will mostly be used for teaching the school curriculum, even in these difficult circumstances.

3. Make sure to involve the wider community

The main point here for schools is this: we are unlikely to fund work that only, or mainly, benefits school pupils or staff.

We look for wider community involvement in any work we fund – in schools or otherwise.

If you’d like more information on this or what it means, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

For us, the best examples of this are when you have asked your community ‘what would you like to do?’ rather than ‘do you support this idea we’ve already come up with’ or ‘would you like to do this free activity we have arranged?’

Some examples

Here are some examples of things we couldn’t fund, based on some recent applications:

  • Stationery supplies for children returning to school
  • Installation of outdoor classroom to allow lessons in the playground
  • Computers and iPads for IT lessons within school hours.

We also receive many applications for improvements to school grounds for the sole benefit of pupils, which is something we are less likely to fund.

So what can we fund?

There’s lots of things we could consider funding as well.

If it’s happening outside of school teaching time, and meaningfully involves people from the wider community, then we’ll consider it.

For example, as long as the project involves or is open to the wider community, we might fund things like:

  • An after-school drama production that is performed over Zoom for local care homes
  • A food club where local people are invited to work alongside pupils to grow food on a community garden
  • Sensory Gardens that can be accessed by the wider community

If in doubt, talk to us.

And finally, remember – we’re always happy to have a chat about your idea before you apply, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you aren’t sure.

National Lottery funding helping ease loneliness during lockdown

June 18, 2020

The National Lottery funded Newington Day Centre supports older people in north Belfast to stay independent and keep living in their own homes. To help those feeling lonely during lockdown the centre have been delivering care packages and making twice weekly phone calls to members, to check in and see how they are doing.

It can be very difficult to admit that you’re feeling lonely, but Loneliness Awareness Week which runs from 15th to 19th June is about encouraging people to speak openly about how they are feeling.

Having been shielding at home for the last 12 weeks, 90-year-old Philomena Lee has thanked the Newington Day Centre for being her lifeline throughout lockdown, helping make the long days bearable and easing the loneliness with their weekly packages and phone calls.

Philomena joined the centre back in February 2019, shortly after her sister Irene passed away. The pair had been inseparable all their lives, travelling across Europe and enjoying their weekly trips to Dublin together. The day centre has been a real lifeline to her, but now, like many others across Northern Ireland, Philomena is feeling the effects of shielding and having her independence taken away. It’s the weekly care packages and phone calls from those at the day centre that have been making her time at home less lonely.

“I live by myself and have found the last few months very difficult, it’s very hard having to stay at home all the time and it’s lonely. I look forward to my weekly calls from the wonderful ladies at the centre, it’s lovely to hear their voices but I do miss getting out to see them. I normally go to the centre twice a week and now I can’t even get out of the house. I’m very active for 90 years old, I love going on trips away and meeting up with my friends, but I can’t do any of that now,” said Philomena.

“I try to fill my days by doing things about the house, but it’s not the same as being able to see people. I have been doing a lot of reading to pass the time, I think I’ve read every newspaper they sell in the shops and I’ve been enjoying the packs the ladies have been dropping off too.”

Over the last five years The National Lottery Community Fund has awarded more than £37.8million of funding to community groups in Northern Ireland to help combat loneliness. Prior to the outbreak the Newington Day Centre had been using a £10,000 grant to run daily activities for older people and their carers but have now adapted the funding to create and deliver their care packages, filled with activity packs, colouring books and crosswords, to help keep members engaged in some fun activities and to ease the loneliness of lockdown. They have also recently received over £300,000 of National Lottery funding to run their carer support service over the next four years, which is helping reduce social isolation and loneliness, improve wellbeing and re-connection with the local community.

Margaret McCrudden, Manager of the Newington Day Centre said, “The lockdown has been difficult for a lot of our members, many live alone and the trips to the centre are normally the highlight of their week. Not being able to get out of their homes is a huge change and as a result many are feeling lonely and isolated. That’s why we decided to create our care packages, to help brighten up their day and reduce the pain and anxiety caused by loneliness. This week we delivered cushions, each with a heart and a poem attached, for them to squeeze when they’re feeling lonely. It’s just a small gesture so they know we’re thinking of them and missing them too.”

Now more than ever it is so important to reach out, to help and support those who are struggling. If you are feeling lonely and would like someone to talk to about your worries and concerns, please contact Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline at 028 9066 4422.

For more information on how The National Lottery Community Fund are responding to loneliness during the pandemic and some helpful information for those who may be feeling lonely during this time, please visit: