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National Lottery funding to boost voluntary sector’s digital capabilities

The National Lottery Community Fund has today announced the first voluntary sector organisations to be awarded grants as part of its new Digital Fund. In total, 8 organisations have been successful within this round and will receive funding of £3.4 million to help them grow their digital capabilities, particularly around their operations and service delivery.

Some of the first organisations to receive funding include Wag and CompanyAddaction and The Law Centres Network.

Wag and Company offers a unique service whereby dogs and trained volunteers visit older people in care homes, in order to reduce social isolation and loneliness. They have received a grant of over £350,000 to develop a digital infrastructure, which will underpin a significant expansion of their activities and services.

Addaction, which provides alcohol, drug misuse and mental health services across the UK, has been awarded nearly £500,000 to work with service users to co-design new digital services and products.

The Law Centres Network, a representative body for ‘Law Centres’ across the UK - non-profits who provide legal advice and representation around social welfare law – have also received digital funding. Their grant of nearly £500,000 will be used to refresh their organisational activities and services in the digital age.

The announcement follows the launch last week (11 July) of The Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST)’s Digital Field Catalyst project, which has received £500,000 in National Lottery funding to support small civil society organisations across the UK incorporate digital ways of working and tools into their activities.

Joe Ferns, UK Knowledge and Portfolio Director at The National Lottery Community Fund said: 

“In a digital society it’s important that charities and community organisations are not only able to adapt to be fit for the future, but can harness the power of digital to identify new opportunities to improve services to support more people. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, these organisations can increase their digital capacity to have a greater impact in communities and support our sector to thrive in the digital age.”

Diane Morton, Founding Director of Wag and Company, said: 

“As a smaller charity experiencing an increasing demand for our services, we’re over the moon. This Digital Fund grant is going to be transformational for us – we can more than double our activities by 2022 and grow our volunteer base significantly, meaning we can play a bigger part in tackling social isolation among older people in our region.”

Laura Bunt, Deputy CEO of Addaction said: 

“This grant will enable us to develop and streamline our chat and messaging tools, to ensure our services reach more people, while also transforming how we use data.

“We’re very grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund for buying in to our mission to transform how we work for our clients - this grant will help us reach more people, when and where they need us.”

Julie Bishop, Director at The Law Centres Network, said:

“After talking with both lawyers and clients, we realised that we need to think about how we can use digital tools to make the most of lawyer time, which is our most expensive resource.

“The funding will make a big difference to Law Centres up and down the country - from helping us develop simple innovations like SMS reminders to clients about appointments and what documents to bring, to larger digital projects around open-sourcing our data and learning to our peers and the wider sector.”

In addition to the grants, the projects will all now benefit from being part of an ecosystem of support set up for Digital Fund grantees, made up of Doteveryone, CAST, Shift, Snook, The Dot Project, and a network of coaches and mentors. This support will range from help with recruitment and Board level engagement through to responsible tech practices, service design and data audits.

They will also collectively document and share learning between themselves and the wider sector – a key aim for The National lottery Community Fund when setting up the Digital Fund.

The digital fund was developed through a series of one-to-one interviews and workshops, and builds on The National Lottery Community Fund’s previous experience of supporting the voluntary sector’s digital transition, which extends back over a decade.

Today’s announcement is also a key part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to enabling civil society to be fit for the future – supporting organisations and the voluntary sector to create opportunities to help local communities thrive.

To find out more visit

Notes to Editors

About us

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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