Big Lottery Fund sets new strategic priorities until 2015

Chair Peter Ainsworth says distributor's programme of closer public sector ties and support for social investment is 'pragmatic, not ideological'

Peter Ainsworth
Peter Ainsworth

The Big Lottery Fund today named working more closely with the private sector and helping the social investment market to grow as two of its main priorities for the next three years.

The funder set out its new approach in its updated strategy framework for 2012 to 2015, called Fresh Thinking – the next chapter.

It replaces the BLF’s 2009 strategy, Big Thinking, which previously set out the organisation’s priorities until 2015.

Peter Ainsworth, who became BLF chair last year, says in the introduction that "the world has moved on" since the 2009 strategy.

The BLF will now "consider further opportunities to support the growing social investment market", which Ainsworth suggests as an alternative or complementary source of funding for voluntary organisations.

"If we can direct some organisations towards social investment to fund certain projects, it could help us to free up more grants generally," he says.

The framework also says the funder will "increase our engagement with the private sector".

Ainsworth, a former Conservative MP, told Third Sector the thinking behind the framework was "pragmatic, not ideological".

He said: "Looking at the wider agenda, at a time of economic difficulty with a lot of third sector organisations struggling, the more that can be done to help those organisations and share expertise across the sectors, the better."

"It’s pragmatic, not ideological – we become more resilient by working with others who share our values."

The publication of the framework comes a week after the Cabinet Office, which last year assumed responsibility for the BLF from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, issued new policy directions for the BLF.

All lottery distributors have been told to cap their administration costs at 5 per cent by 2014.

The BLF says it will achieve this through efficiency savings and reducing staff numbers.

It will also introduce a new IT system that will reduce costs and make it easier for charities to make funding applications.

The document says the BLF will "continue to distribute the majority of our funding to the voluntary and community sector" with a mixed funding portfolio of "small and large grants, open and targeted and place-based funding".

It says it will focus on those most in need, which "has become even more important in the current social and financial climate as other funding opportunities decrease".

It promises to continue supporting voluntary organisations to build capacity and improve performance, while offering community funding to allow people to take ownership of local projects.

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