In a consultation about future funding launched yesterday, the BLF is asking whether it should extend its current commitment to give 60 to 70 per cent of its money to the voluntary sector, which ends in 2012.
In a response to the consultation called Big Thinking, four national umbrella bodies – the NCVO, Nicva, SCVO and WCVA – have demanded a 100 per cent financial commitment to the sector.
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: "In the current economic turbulence, Big Lottery Fund money will be a vital source of support to enable the sector to weather these rocky times. This means putting funding of the sector even more at the heart of what the Big Lottery Fund does."
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said other institutions such as schools could also have a claim on the money.
"The voluntary sector is hugely important to us," he said. "But we need to debate whether 100 per cent of our spending should go there. We've asked the question and we'll have to see what people say."
Wanless faced questions from more than 200 people at the Big Thinking launch in London yesterday, with international and environmental issues high on the agenda.
"We had some feedback on the public's attitude to what the National Lottery should be about, and they put a low priority on international development," he said. "The public also felt that other people were active in environmental issues and that they shouldn't be a priority for us.
"We do need to prioritise. If we emerge from this consultation with everything having been labelled a funding priority, we won't have done our job very well."