The Cabinet Office launched an initiative on the 25 June that will provide grants to increase the sustainability of around 250 organisations working in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector.
The fund, which will be delivered by the Big Lottery Fund, will provide grants that will enable recipients to implement organisational changes and access professional advice that might currently be out of their reach. It will give VCSEs access to a wider range of skills and support, with all grant recipients establishing a strong volunteering relationship with a local business. These cross sector relationships will help grant recipients to strengthen their resilience and long term sustainability.
The Local Sustainability Fund will be £20 million of government funding delivered over 2 years, and will be available to medium-sized VCSE organisations that deliver vital support to vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Alongside working with local businesses, recipients will also work with skilled advisors so that the fund generates maximum impact.
It is expected to help around 250 high-impact charities and social enterprises in England to secure sustainable futures for themselves, including supporting them to bid for public service contracts and to diversify their incomes. Eligible organisations will be able to apply for funding when the fund opens today. Details of how to apply will be on Big Lottery Fund’s website and will be widely circulated throughout the sector.
There are 2 elements to the first stage of the programme: an organisational diagnostic tool and an LSF eligibility checker. The diagnostic tool, which takes approximately 1 hour to fill in, can be completed by any organisation interested in their sustainability, regardless of whether they apply to the LSF. The tool allows organisations to understand their strengths and weaknesses better, and every organisation that fills it out will receive a sustainability report.
Once an organisation has submitted its sustainability report to the Big Lottery Fund, a selection of suitable applicants will be invited to make a more detailed application at the second stage.
It is expected that successful organisations will receive their first grant payment in March 2016. Average grant size is expected to be £70,000. Big Lottery Fund will be administering the Local Sustainability Fund on behalf of the Cabinet Office.