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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

Six myths about The National Lottery Community Fund

August 21, 2019

Every so often we hear some of the myths that people believe about The National Lottery Fund Northern Ireland and our funding. We’re here to clear up six of the most common! And don’t worry if you believed these too – everyone makes myth-takes!


  • “If rejected you can’t reapply for 12 months”


If your application is unsuccessful, you can reapply as soon as you are read. If you’re applying for the same project, we do recommend you address any feedback we gave you before applying again. If you aren’t sure why your application was unsuccessful, or if you just want advice on making a stronger application, just ask! We’re always happy to chat about your ideas.


  • “We don’t fund your area of Northern Ireland”


We fund projects right across Northern Ireland and are glad to see applications from any part of Northern Ireland. We’re working more locally than ever – contact us on the details below and we can put you in touch with the team that works in your area.


  • “You shouldn’t discuss your idea with us before applying”


This couldn’t be further from the truth! We’d love to talk to you about your project before you apply. We can give you advice on getting your community involved in your project, what funding programmes might suit your project best, how the application process works – and anything in between. In our experience, applicants who talk to us before they apply are much more likely to avoid common pitfalls. So don’t be shy – get in touch with us at any point in the application process.

The National Lottery Community Fund

Whatever your idea is, we’re here to chat!

  • “We only fund projects in areas seen as ‘deprived’”


While we certainly consider levels of deprivation when targeting our funding, it is definitely not the only thing we care about. We understand that communities face issues that aren’t related to economic deprivations and we want to know what your community thinks is important to them. That’s why it’s important to us that the projects we fund have been designed in a way that includes the voices and opinions of the people taking part – we want to ask communities what matters to them, not what’s the matter with them.


  • “We don’t like giving away money”


We love giving money away! It’s the best bit of our job and is the reason The National Lottery Community Fund exists. Obviously, we have a responsibility to make sure that our funds are spent well. But we can’t keep the money for ourselves, so we are always looking for great new projects to support.


  • “Only registered charities can apply”


You don’t have to be a registered charity to apply to any of our funds! We don’t fund individuals, and there are a few basic things your organisation needs in place before it can apply, such as a committee, a governing document, and a bank account.

Above all, we want you to talk to us. No matter what your question, whether you’re thinking of applying to us or if you’ve been funded by us before, we’re always happy to chat.

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.