One of the big decisions most grant makers have to make is between open programmes - to which anyone, within relatively broad criteria, can appeal - and those that focus on identified key priorities. Over the coming year, the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales will continue to run both, alongside its 'collaborative programme'. But much will change in 2008.
The new guidelines for 2007 have already tightened up a lot of the criteria for both elements of the 'community programme', which has a budget of nearly £19m. The definition of 'small charities' is now fixed: the ones that cover the whole of England and Wales can have an income of up to £5m, but at local and regional level they're limited to £1m (on the basis that this applies to more than 98 per cent of UK charities).
The open element of the programme (with £7.7m) is staying available to any charity that "helps disadvantaged people to play a fuller role in the community of their choice". The 'community priority' programme (with £11.5m) is now divided into 11 sets of priorities - one nationwide, the others for separate regions.
"In late 2005 we asked different groups in the regions what was important to them," says Linda Kelly, chief executive of the foundation. "Each regional manager and team consulted individual charities and networks, then wrote up a plan."
This means, for example, that diverse minority communities and older people are priorities across the midlands, but the east midlands will also focus on rural disadvantage and the west midlands will concentrate on locally deprived areas. 'Inclusion through technology' is a priority only in the north west and disability only in Yorkshire. The nationwide priorities are older people, learning disability, diverse minority communities, and refugees and asylum seekers.
"We'll use the data from applications to inform all three areas of our work," Kelly says. She and her colleagues are yet to decide whether the open programme will continue and, if it does, what shape it will take.
"There are two schools of thought," she says. "First, that we need to keep it at a level that can monitor emerging trends; second, that we must focus on what's important. It's very much a turning point year. We want our next 'suite' of programmes to be informed by what we have learned."