Is the Heritage Lottery Fund the right funder for you?

If you’re looking for funding to help you deliver your project, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is a great place to start. HLF has a range of grants you can apply for, covering all sizes of projects.  Before you start, though, here are a few things to be aware of:

  • The HLF does not fund individuals.  You must be part of an organised group which has its own bank account.
  • If you just want to write a book, don’t approach the HLF for funding – they won’t fund publications if they’re not part of a larger project.
  • If you haven’t got money from HLF before, start small.  It’s best to build up your relationship with HLF slowly, and prove to them that you can successfully deliver a smaller project before moving up to the larger grants.
  • When you receive money from the HLF, you need to be able to manage your project effectively.  This means filling in progress report forms, keeping proof of your expenditure with invoices and receipts, and of the time staff and volunteers are spending on the project.  Make sure you know who is going to be responsible for doing this and factor the time this will need into your project.
  • An HLF bid isn’t a good solution if you want to get your project going very quickly.  Preparing your HLF bid takes time, so unless you’re very experienced at bids, expect this process to take months, possibly up to a year.  You will need to cost up your project and also produce a detailed project plan of what will happen when.  It may feel frustrating when all you really want to do is to get on with the project itself, but the time you spend doing this work for the bid means that when you get your grant you know exactly what you need to do to get started.
  • When planning the timescales for your project, don’t forget to allow for at least a couple of months after you expect to hear that your bid was successful before you aim to begin work.  There is usually a delay whilst agreeing the permission to start.  You also can’t publicise your success until the HLF agrees.

The HLF have more advice on their website and Clair Adler HLF Appointed Special Advisor for Community and Learning has some more tips.

If you don’t meet the criteria for an HLF funded project, or an HLF bid sounds like more than you can manage, then take a look at some alternatives to HLF funding