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Customers get together for fun “market stall” event in Limavady

October 24, 2019

“Good event, enjoyed the friendly informal atmosphere.”  “This was excellent, more of this would be great.”  “Great session all round!”

This is just some of the positive feedback we received after our recent “market stall” event, held for National Lottery Community Fund grant holders in the Causeway Coast & Glens, Derry & Strabane and Mid & East Antrim council areas.  Based on what the grant holders told us – they wanted to meet up with other groups to share learning and make connections – we organised an event to enable them to do this.

WIN_20191004_13_25_15_ProOver 65 organisations were invited to attend an event in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady.  They were offered the opportunity to host a “market stall” where they could showcase their work.  Again based on grant holder feedback we held a session on evaluation and how to showcase your project and highlight its impact.

We had a number of excellent keynote speakers from funded projects, who talked about their work and highlighted the many inventive ways they have found to effectively carry out evaluation.  Garvagh Development Trust and On Street Community Youth each shared their amazing films, both of which brilliantly highlight the impact of their work.

Catherine Taylor from Be Safe Be Well gave a really moving talk on how they try to capture the impact of their Men’s Shed.  Whilst it is easy to showcase their amazing creations, it can be difficult to capture the greatest impact, that of improved mental health.  She described how they have found ways to do this by using things like Becks Depression Inventory, personal testimonies, videos and blogs.

WIN_20191004_13_26_25_ProThere were also some expert tips and advice on evaluation from our Knowledge and Learning team.  Our website has a new Insights & Evidence Library where you can search and access reports and evaluations from other grant holders across the Fund.

We would love for grant holders to send us their learning so we can share it! Current topics we’d particularly appreciate learning on include:

  • loneliness
  • climate change; &
  • youth voice.

A top tip on evaluation came from Eileen McKibbin who talked about the importance of evidence being useful to the organisations themselves and how evaluation should focus on what matters to them and not try and fit it into “a box” of what they think the funder wants.

Speaking about the event, Michele Loughrey from Causeway Rural Urban Network (CRUN) said: “It was a super event, we met lots of new groups accessing funding and we have made a few links already to develop initial contacts from the day.  Many thanks for organising.”

Karin Eyben from Garvagh Development Trust who gave a really insightful presentation on how they have developed some innovative ways of evaluating their project said: “I was just blown away by the diversity of what has been funded, with a common theme of investing and trusting in creative ideas and fantastic people. Definitely do that again.”

And as we are coming up to the National Lottery’s 25th birthday, we couldn’t resist taking a crossed finger selfie to say thanks to all the National Lottery players!

WIN_20191004_12_53_09_Pro (4)

We would love you to get involved with our crossed finger selfie on Tuesday 29th October too.  Here’s how you can:

  • Gather a few people together and take a selfie with everyone posing with crossed fingers. You may want to get a few volunteers, staff, community members together.
  • Write a short message thanking National Lottery players for supporting your group to do the fantastic work you do. Include the hashtag: #NationalLottery25
  • On Tuesday 29thOctober, post your message and crossed fingers selfie on your social media channels.

Please remember to tag us in your posts!

Facebook: @TNLCommunityFundNorthernIreland 

Twitter: @TNLComFundNI

Why should you involve your community in your funding application?

September 24, 2019

We believe that people understand what’s needed in their communities better than anyone else. We want to ask what matters to communities, not what’s the matter with them. By tapping into the strengths, talents and energy already in your community, you can make your project stronger and more likely to succeed. It’s also great evidence that the work you want to do really is important to the people you’re supporting. 

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, 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? 

We’re flexible about what involving the community looks like for different groups and different communities. Some groups send out surveys, some run open days – others set up steering groups or bring more community members onto their board or committee. Others just make sure they have regular chats with community members, either in person or on social media. 

Whatever method works best for your community, we just want to see that your project is based on what your community thinks is important. It should include their suggestions and ideas, and they should be able to stay involved as the project goes on.


Find ways of talking to people that work for your community

  • Do we need to involve the community in planning the specific thing we are asking you to fund? 

In most cases, yes, we want to know how you’ve involved the community in planning the activities we’ll be funding. 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 the activities. 

  • What if we just need to fix the village hall roof / buy a new piece of equipment? 

We don’t expect you to have asked the community about the nitty gritty details of fixing the roof! But your application should show us why the hall is important 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. 

As ever, if you have any questions at all then just drop us a line. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about getting your community involved in your project. 

Email us at or phone us on 028 9055 1455. 

You can also talk to us on social media: @TNLCommunityFundNI on Facebook and @TNLComFundNI on Twitter. 

6 Dos and Don’ts for your Funding Application

September 19, 2019

Writing funding applications can be stressful, but they don’t have to be! We’ve pulled together six top tips to make the application process easier.

  • Start early 

Start your application in plenty of time before you would like to submit. This gives you time to do your research, get people involved in designing your project, and gather the information you need. A great application takes time, and the more preparation you do, the better.

We recommend working backwards from the time you need the money by – and don’t forget to account for the time it will take us to process your application!

  • Focus on how you’ll use the grant 

This sounds obvious, but make sure your application concentrates on what you’d like to use the money for! A little background on your organisation is worth including, but don’t fill your application up with history and existing activities. This is especially true for smaller applications (usually those under £10,000).


Make sure your application focuses on how you’d use your grant

  • Use clear language 

Tell us about your project as if you’re explaining it to a friend. You don’t need to use lots of jargon or buzzwords – in fact, the less of those, the better! You’re the expert on your project – we want to hear about your work in your own words. Ask a friend who is not involved in the project to check your application – they will be able to tell you if it’s written clearly.

  • Keep it factual 

Of course, we want to know why you want to run the project and why it’s needed. But all too often people forget to include the basic facts, like:

  • Where the project will happen;
  • What activities are involved;
  • When they’ll happen;
  • How many people will be involved; and
  • How much it will cost.

Make sure your application covers the facts!

  • Check, recheck, and check again 

No matter how good your project is, we can’t process it if your application isn’t filled in correctly! When we receive applications that are missing vital information, it takes time to rectify. This causes extra work and delays. Double check your application before you submit. Ask a friend to read over it for you – a fresh pair of eyes can often spot things that you might have missed.

  • Talk to us 

If in doubt, give us a shout! It’s easier than ever to talk to us – just drop us an email or pick up the phone and chat to someone in the office. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about your application, or to chat with you about what funding might suit your project. Email us at or phone us on 028 9055 1455.

You can also talk to us on social media: @TNLCommunityFundNI on Facebook and @TNLComFundNI on Twitter.

Keep these tips in mind and take the stress out of your funding application!

Is your organisation eligible for National Lottery funding?

September 4, 2019

So you have a great idea for a project to help your community to thrive. What next? Let’s look at what it takes to be eligible for one of our grants!

Like most funders, we only fund groups to run projects, not individuals. To be eligible for our funding, your organisation will need a few basic things in place before you’re ready to start your application.

  • A governing document such as a constitution

This document needs to lay out the name and purpose of your organisation. It should also cover how it will work, like how people join, how your committee will work, when you’ll have meetings, and so on.

  • A committee or board with at least two unrelated members (or three if you are applying for more than £10,000)

By unrelated we mean people who aren’t family members (like siblings, parents and children, married couples or civil partners) or living at the same address.

Voluntary groups, schools, social enterprises and charities are all eligible to apply

  • A bank account in your organisation’s name (as written on the constitution)

You’ll also need to make sure that at least two unrelated people are required to approve the withdrawal or spending of money from the account

  • Annual financial accounts

These should clearly state the name of your organisation (again, as on the constitution). They also must show the start and end dates for the 12 month period they cover (e.g. 1 Jan 2018 to 31 Dec 2018).

They don’t need to be produced by a professional, or audited by accountants, but they will need to be signed as accurate by at least two members of your committee.

If your organisation is still in its first 12 months, we will ask for a projection instead, listing any expected spending or income (including any grants you are applying for) over the next year.

Remember – you don’t have to be a registered charity to apply to The National Lottery Community Fund!

Once you have everything in place and are ready to start applying, we’d love to hear from you. We’re always happy to chat, no matter what stage of the application process you’re at.

Email us at or phone us on 028 9055 1455

You can also talk to us on social media: @TNLCommunityFundNI on Facebook and @TNLComFundNI on Twitter.

How to publicise your grant

August 28, 2019

Projects funded by us in Northern Ireland can get guidance on branding from the Communications and Engagement team in Belfast.

When we changed our name to The National Lottery Community Fund we created a range of materials to help you publicise your grant.

Here’s how you can spread the word and say thank you to National Lottery players.

Show people – by using our logo 

  • Use it on posters, leaflets, presentations, pop-up banners, sweatshirts, hoodies, and your website.
  • Get free materials with our logo already on them.

Download the logo and order branded materials directly from our website. If planning an event allow up to three weeks for delivery.

Tell people – in words

Remember to use our new name and to say thank you to National Lottery players when talking about your award at events, on the radio, in your newsletter, in emails, or in the local press.

You can use words like “…which has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players.”

Tell people – in pictures

Bring your story to life with eye-catching and inspiring photos of your project and people.

Use in the press, online, and on social media.

Follow best practices:

  • Get permission to use the photos.
  • Make sure they are of good quality.
  • Include our logo if possible.

Share with us – on social media 

We love comments and images of you celebrating your grant. Tag us on Facebook @TNLCommunityFundNorthernIreland and on Twitter @TNLComFundNI.

“Thank you @TNLCommunityFundNorthernIreland for awarding £[grant amount] of #NationalLottery funding to #[project name].”


Contact the Communications and Engagement team in Belfast with any queries or if you need further assistance on 028 9055 1455 or email