Fundraising: New lottery grants 'will add value to ChangeUp'

The Big Lottery Fund has committed £155m to building the capacity of the voluntary sector in England over the next three years through its Basis programme.

The Building and Sustaining Infrastructure Services programme is aimed at improving the infrastructure support available to voluntary organisations.

Grants will be made only to projects run by second-tier or helper agencies.

The programme has received a cautious welcome from the sector's lottery watcher, Luke FitzHerbert of the Directory of Social Change. However, he said he would have preferred it to have been part of the main Reaching Communities programme, which was launched at the end of last year.

He said there were strings attached to this grants round and that the lottery should take on board the true meaning of 'demand-led'.

"What we are all trying to do is to keep the lottery from telling us what we should ask for," he said.

FitzHerbert is concerned that, because the lottery said it wanted Basis to "complement and add value to the ChangeUp programme" run by Capacity Builders, grants could be made in favour of public service delivery.

"The requirement that projects should support or even complement ChangeUp rings all sorts of alarm bells," he said, adding that he would closely monitor whether Basis grants were spread throughout the sector or biased towards public service delivery.

"The programme is independent of ChangeUp," said a spokesman for the Big Lottery Fund. "But it would not be sensible to ignore ChangeUp and the work that it is funding - we would not want to duplicate that."

Non-profit bodies can apply for up to £500,000 for capital and revenue costs of projects lasting up to five years. If a project is being delivered across England or several regions, however, the distributor will consider applications for larger amounts.

Application forms will be downloadable from the lottery's website from 31 March, with a deadline of 30 June for the first part of the process. The second stage of the application will be determined by the BLF's assessment of the first.

The first round of funding will be handed out in November this year, with two further rounds to be distributed in November of the following two years.

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