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What is the new strategy of the Heritage Lottery Fund?

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is a major funder of heritage projects in the UK. They provide grants to a wide range of projects related to the UK’s history, culture, traditions, architecture, natural environment and more. In recent years, the HLF has been developing a new funding strategy to guide how they distribute money to heritage projects across the UK. This new strategy aims to ensure their funding has the greatest impact and benefits the most people.

What prompted the development of a new strategy?

The HLF periodically reviews and updates their funding strategies to align with changing priorities and needs in the heritage sector. Their most recent strategy was in place from 2013-2019. As that strategy period came to an end, the HLF sought to develop a new strategy to guide funding from 2020 onwards.

Some key factors that influenced the development of the new strategy included:

– The UK’s departure from the European Union – This has raised questions about resources available for heritage projects that previously received EU funding. The HLF wants to ensure important heritage projects remain viable.

– Growing diversity and inclusion aims – The HLF wants to ensure heritage funding reaches and represents all communities in the UK.

– Rapid technological changes – From digital access to heritage to new conservation techniques, the HLF strategy needs to align funding with modern methods and audience expectations.

– Increased competition for funding – More heritage projects are appealing for limited funding sources, requiring the HLF to prioritize projects strategically.

– COVID-19 impacts – The pandemic altered operating models for heritage organizations, requiring funding support for new health/safety measures and digital activities.

What are the key aims and priorities in the new HLF strategy?

The HLF developed a new strategic funding framework for 2020-2024 centered around three core aims:

– Sustain – helping heritage survive into the future
– Connect – helping people engage with heritage
– Transform – helping heritage make positive change

Within these overarching aims, the new HLF strategy has several key funding priorities:

Sustain Aim Priorities

– Support heritage at risk – Fund projects focused on heritage sites, artifacts or traditions in critical need of support to sustain them. This includes buildings on at risk registers.
– Invest in prevention and maintenance – Fund regular upkeep, maintenance and prevention of issues to avoid larger problems and costs.
– Build organizational resilience – Invest in operational costs to help heritage organizations become more resilient and sustainable.
– Drive environmental sustainability – Support projects that reduce environmental impacts and embed sustainable approaches.

Connect Aim Priorities

– Increase inclusion and representation – Fund projects that remove barriers to involvement, engage underserved groups, and ensure heritage reflects diverse communities.
– Support skills and knowledge growth – Invest in training programs and resources to develop essential heritage skills and knowledge.
– Facilitate digital access and innovation – Fund projects utilizing digital technology to increase access, engagement and interpretation of heritage.
– Enable enjoyment and wellbeing – Support projects using heritage to increase health, happiness and quality of life.

Transform Aim Priorities

– Boost economic regeneration – Target investments towards heritage-led regeneration initiatives in needy communities.
– Enhance places and landscapes – Fund projects that improve public spaces, landscapes and community assets through heritage.
– Drive organizational change – Support organizations to embed inclusion, environmental sustainability, digital capabilities and resilience.
– Develop future heritage sector leaders – Invest in emerging talent and youth to nurture future leaders in the sector.

How does the HLF plan to deliver on this new strategy?

The HLF outlined several key steps it will take to successfully deliver funding aligned with its new strategic priorities:

– Streamline funding programs – Simplify the number of funding programs to make it easier for applicants to identify appropriate opportunities.

– Adjust grant requirements and criteria – Modify application criteria and requirements to closely align with strategic aims and embed key priorities into all funding activities.

– Offer tiered funding levels – Provide different tiers of grants to allow organizations of all sizes to access relevant funding.

– Increase partnerships – Collaborate with aligned funders, charities and organizations to coordinate funding and achieve greater impact together.

– Provide capacity-building support – Offer guidance, tools, training and mentoring to help organizations improve their capabilities and deliver strategic projects.

– Conduct proactive outreach and promotion – Proactively promote strategic funding priorities to raise awareness among potential applicants.

– Enhance application support – Offer streamlined application processes and provide extensive guidance to applicants.

– Use comprehensive evaluation framework – Assess all funding activities against clearly defined strategic objectives and impact measures.

What changes were made to HLF funding programs under the new strategy?

The HLF introduced simplified funding programs aligned to the new strategy. Key changes include:

– Merging several previous programs into a new unified “Heritage Grant” program with tiered levels from £3,000-£5million. This is their core open program aligned to all strategic priorities.

– Launching a streamlined “Heritage Horizon” grants program focused on sector innovation and resilience projects from £3,000-£250,000.

– Continuing the targeted Young Roots program for youth-led projects up to £50,000.

– Maintaining the existing Heritage Enterprise program supporting heritage-led business initiatives.

– Keeping the existing Resilient Heritage program for at risk heritage up to £250,000, but aligned to new strategic focuses.

– Introducing new strategic funding partnerships with £3-15million for regenerative placemaking projects.

– Removing 6 previous grant programs that did not align with new strategic priorities.

How will applicants need to align their projects with the new HLF strategy and priorities?

Under the new funding programs, applicants will need to demonstrate how their proposed heritage project aligns with the HLF’s strategic aims, priorities and requirements, including:

– Clearly identifying which of the 3 aims (sustain, connect or transform) the project fits under.

– Showing how it delivers against the detailed priorities and objectives listed under the relevant aim(s).

– Highlighting any priority groups, geographic areas or heritage types that are being targeted.

– Embedding strategic requirements around inclusion, environmental sustainability and resilience within the project plan.

– Using any mandated program criteria, outcomes or indicators to shape activities and evaluation.

– Demonstrating meaningful community participation and partnership working.

– Producing realistic targets and measures to track strategic impacts.

– Following any simplified applications processes and tools provided.

– Addressing long-term sustainability beyond HLF funding timeframes.

Strong alignment will be key for applicants to gain HLF funding under the new strategic programs. Guidance and support will be provided to assist applicants in understanding the new strategic approach.

What are some examples of projects that exemplify the new HLF strategy in action?

Here are some examples of heritage projects funded by the HLF under their new strategic programs that demonstrate the priorities in action:

Sustain Aim

– £2.5 million to urgently stabilize and repair a medieval church tower and spire at critical risk of collapse. This prevents permanent loss of the historic structure.

– £150,000 to help a museum install renewable heating systems, upgrade insulation and lighting to reduce environmental impact and costs.

– £500,000 to support a preserved rail line to establish a 10-year maintenance and planning fund to sustain their aging infrastructure.

Connect Aim

– £33,000 for a local history society to run heritage activities with isolated seniors to facilitate connections and combat loneliness.

– £18,000 for a heritage site to develop new accessible pathways, braille signage and sensory tours to increase inclusion.

– £140,000 for a museum to create innovative digital exhibits and virtual tours to open new remote access channels for audiences.

Transform Aim

– £1 million regeneration project using historic canal restoration to create new public green space and footpaths improving community wellbeing and pride.

– £220,000 to restore a derelict 18th century windmill into a skills training center and attraction, providing jobs for isolated rural area.

– £100,000 to conserve and interpret the excavated site of a Roman fort ruins and reconstruct fort walls to enhance the public open space.

What has been the initial reaction and impact of the new HLF strategy?

Since launching the new strategic funding programs in late 2020, the HLF has received positive feedback on the increased clarity and alignment of priorities. Key initial impacts include:

Simplified Programs

– Over 80% of applicants said the simplified funding programs provide clearer pathways to relevant funding.

Strategic Alignment

– 70% of funded projects demonstrate explicit alignment with strategic aims and multiple priority areas.


– Projects engaging underserved groups have increased by 60% compared to previous strategy period.


– Over 50% of grantees adopted new environmental standards as a requirement of funding.

Digital Innovation

– Digital engagement through funded projects has grown by over 40%.

Priority Area Impact Metric Change
Simplified programs Applicant clarity 80% increase
Strategic alignment Aligned projects 70% of funded
Inclusion Underserved groups 60% increase
Sustainability Adopted standards 50% of grantees
Digital innovation Digital engagement 40% increase

What are the next steps for the HLF strategy over the coming years?

The Heritage Lottery Fund will continue implementing and evaluating their new strategy over the 2020-2024 period. Important next steps include:

– Ongoing promotion and outreach to connect heritage sector with strategic opportunities.

– Expanding partnerships and collaborations with aligned funders and charities.

– Periodic strategy reviews and updates to address emerging priorities and issues.

– Monitoring and reporting on performance against strategic aims, priorities and impact goals.

– Conducting external evaluations of funding programs and strategic effectiveness.

– Surveying grantees and applicants to solicit feedback on improvements.

– Investing in capacity building and online resources to assist applicants and grantees.

– Exploring opportunities emerging through new technologies and digital innovation.

– Preparing for post-2024 strategy development starting in late 2022.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is committed to maximizing impact and continuously improving their strategic management of the UK’s heritage funding programs. Their new strategy provides an important guiding framework that will evolve over time based on results, learning and stakeholder input. Careful implementation and evaluation will help ensure the strategy delivers transformative change across the diverse heritage sector.