We are operating under a strategic framework and not a plan as in previous years. The language is deliberate. The framework is intended to set out the context for our investment over the next five years, to give confidence and stability for customers, but with the flexibility to continue to respond promptly to emerging needs that will inevitably arise in our changing world. So we may introduce new initiatives and programmes, partnerships and other innovations as strategic needs and priorities change.

But there will also be a high degree of continuity. We continue to support the full breadth of heritage across the UK – not just museums and historic buildings, but also industrial and maritime heritage as well as natural heritage and landscapes, and intangible heritage including cultures and memories. We remain committed to the principle that the majority of our funding will be available on an open basis – 75% open to all types of heritage through open programmes.

We have three open programmes depending on the size of the project. Sharing Heritage is our new very straightforward grants programme for grants between £3,000 and £10,000. Our Heritage is our medium sized programme for all types of heritage with grants up to £100,000 and decisions made within 8 weeks. Our Heritage Grants programme is for projects of £100,000 plus. This is a two-round application process, with an early decision based on outline proposals and final awards made once project proposals have been fully developed.

But we target funding where there is a strategic need. Our targeted programmes for parks, landscapes, townscapes, places of worship and young people have been highly valued and are continuing with some enhancements and streamlining. This year we have two new initiatives. First World War: Then and Now, a new programme for grants between £3,000 and £10,000 will engage young people and communities with the Centenary of the First World War. Projects will offer opportunities for communities to explore, learn about and share their First World War heritage. The programme aims to leave a legacy of community heritage to mark the Centenary. And in November we intend to launch another round of our strategic collecting programme – Collecting Cultures – designed to encourage institutions to take a more strategic approach to collecting and to build their skills and confidence. Following the success of the first programme we have extended it to include archives and libraries as well as museums.

A major change for us with the new framework is how we assess projects. We now expect all applicants to show us – in a way that is proportionate to the level of grant they are asking for – what difference their project will make for heritage, people and communities so we have moved to an outcomes-based approach to assessment. Our previous three aims of conservation, participation and learning are still valued but we think that the sector can move on. All three are thoroughly embedded and we now see all the benefits of this – a thriving and popular heritage sector, more people and a wider range of people engaging with heritage, and notions of heritage moving on from that sense of dusty ideas in elite corners – to becoming part of popular debate.

So what do we mean by outcomes assessment? We want applicants to focus on the ‘outcomes’ of their project so to help applicants, so we ask applicants to demonstrate what their project will achieve against fourteen outcomes under the headings of heritage, people and communities. A project does not have to deliver against all of our outcomes! Some of our programmes have a minimum number of ‘outcomes’ that a project must achieve. These are proportionate and linked to the amount of money applied for. For example, under our open programmes – projects with a grant request of up to £10,000 must deliver at least one people outcome; projects with a grant request of between £10,000 and £100,000 must deliver at least one outcome for heritage and one for people; and for grant applications over £100,000 we will expect a range of outcomes to be delivered – at least two each for heritage, people and communities. For our targeted programmes we specify which outcomes a project must meet.

Finally let us consider how we make decisions. Essentially we take into account several factors: the significance of the heritage – who values it and why; why Lottery funding is needed and why now; the difference the project will make in terms of delivering against our outcomes; the risk of the project not being delivered or not sustained; overall value for money (for example, will the investment of Lottery funds attract other investment); and whether the project is located within a development priority area (for example, in an area that has had comparatively low levels of lottery funding in the past).

The answers to these questions do not by themselves indicate whether a project will be awarded a grant or not. Even in financially straitened times the demand for HLF funding remains competitive.so the answers help us decide which projects are a higher priority for support. By considering those factors when planning your project it could be the difference to a successful outcome for your application.

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