Big Lottery Fund
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BIG publishes report into equal support

The Big Lottery Fund report published recently suggests that for small front-line minority groups the quality of organisational support is more important than the identity of the provider.

The study, commissioned by BIG and undertaken by Equal to the Occasion (ETTO) in 2009/2010, considered whether groups working in areas of ethnicity or sexual orientation receive better development support if it is delivered by infrastructure organisations that share their identity.

The key findings of the study are being presented by BIG at a sector event on 2 September 2010 at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.

Development support includes activities that build group’s skills and confidence to run itself well, including finance, fundraising and staff recruitment and management.

Peter Wanless, Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive said: “BIG commissioned this study to find out more about what many people feel is a complex issue for both VCS organisations and their funders. At BIG we were hearing conflicting messages about support needs from minority groups with some groups being concerned that ‘mainstream’ agencies did not adequately recognise their specific needs.

“As we fund many mainstream agencies and in particular bearing in mind the current economic climate it was important for us to find out more about these questions so that we can get beyond assertion and ensure that our funding works as best it can to secure positive change for all sections of the community.

Helen Wollaston, Director of Equal to the Occasion said: “Reduced public sector funding makes questions of equity and value for money in provision of voluntary sector support services more relevant than ever. Despite the sensitivities involved, we were encouraged by people’s willingness to talk about these issues – indeed many positively welcomed the opportunity to do so.”

Some of the broad findings from the study include:

  • Front-line groups are generally more concerned with the quality of provision than the identity of the provider. The general concerns and experiences of small BME and LGB groups were not markedly different from those of small groups in general.
  • Many BME and LGB groups do however work across borough boundaries and face challenges in using borough-based voluntary infrastructure support services.
  • In areas where there is not a critical mass of a beneficiary population, equality concerns may be marginalised.
  • It is often hard to separate organisational development from other infrastructure functions, particularly when such approaches as community development are being used.
  • There could be more partnership working between specialist and generic providers.
  • All parties should challenge unsubstantiated claims – whether about the ‘rights’ of groups to funding or about how well ‘generic’ providers reach all sections of the community.

The full report “Equal support: Do identity-based voluntary and community groups need identity-based organisational development” is available at

Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572

Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030
Textphone:  0845 6021 659

Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:

Notes to Editors

  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out half the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £24 billion has now been raised and more than 330,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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