Just announced: £20m Local Sustainability Fund


The Office for Civil Society has made funding available for medium sized voluntary organisations to plan for and start to change the way they work. The aim is to help voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations which are delivering important services, but currently facing challenges, to plan for the future.

Delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society, the Local Sustainability Fund aims to help these organisations become stronger, more sustainable, and more resilient, to ensure they prosper and continue to support beneficiaries in future years. There are two aspects to the programme:

  1. a VCSE Diagnostic Tool
  2. the Local Sustainability Fund

The VCSE Diagnostic Tool helps you assess your organisation’s strengths, build on what you do well and identify where you need to focus on changing how you work. It takes about an hour to complete. You have to do this in order to be able to apply for funding.

The organisations that are offered funding will be those with a strong track record of delivering services and empowering their beneficiaries, but who are experiencing some current challenges, and who with targeted support, can have a strong long term future.

If you are invited to apply for funding, you will need to work with an advisor, someone with the experience and expertise to advise and help you evaluate, plan, and deliver the change that is best for your organisation. The advisor could be someone you have worked with before – a consultant, or someone from a similar organisation – but if this is the case, you must be able to explain how and why you chose them, and how they will be able to help you.

If successful in your application, the advisor should help you deliver the changes, and paying the advisor is likely to be one of your key project delivery costs.

It is felt that charities and social enterprises partnering with local businesses can be of great benefit to both parties. So they are keen that any organisation invited to make an application for funding from the Local Sustainability Fund also work with a local business. Applicants will be expected to be able to identify a business or businesses that could offer advice on their plans for change. They will also be expected to include in the steps of their change plans, information on how they plan to develop volunteering opportunities with local businesses.

The intention is to fund about 260 projects across England at an average grant size of around £70,000. You have until 26 July to complete the Diagnostic Tool and Eligibility Checker.

If you’re still interested, go the VCSE Diagnostic website where there are full details and to apply.