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Digital Fund Weeknotes 07 (17th — 21st December)

The last Weeknotes of 2018 and they’re short – mainly because I’m writing this whilst keeping one eye on my two nieces who are running around Wonderlab at the Science Museum.

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What we are doing

This week it will come as no surprise that we’ve continued to work through our mountain of applications, as well as do about 8 calls a day between us, to those we’ve taken through to the next sifting stage.

We’ve also invited a few people so far (from the earliest submitted applications) to put in a full application. I’ll write more about this process in the new year but I’m glad we’re designing it to be thoughtful to and centred around the applicant. We don’t ask people to write an entirely separate application – instead they can share with us any existing internal documents they have created and are relevant – business plans, strategic plans, accounts etc. We then just ask for additional information to fill in the gaps.

This week I also visited Birmingham to present to the Heads of Regions for England about the Digital Fund and in particular to start planning how we might direct applications that don’t match our criteria to other Big Lottery Fund programmes.

What we are learning

We’re learning a LOT from all the applications we’ve received and I’ll share more about this early in 2019 when we’ve got back to all applicants.

I’m completely geeking out though because of the amount of intelligence we now have about where people are at and what the sector needs. Between the initial 1200 applications, and then the more in-depth phone calls we’re doing with some applicants, I feel as if I’m doing user research and sector research on steroids. There’s so much data and so much insight to be gained through proper analysis – which we will dedicate time to in January.

What we’re celebrating

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One of the things we brought Tom for his leaving gift was membership to The Ferret 👊🏼

This is both a celebration and a commiseration for us! Tom is leaving at the end of the year. He’s done such a brilliant job (with John and others in the BLF) of getting the Digital Fund in place, and designing it with great consideration. The last few weeks in particular we’ve appreciated all he’s helped with before he goes. His wisdom in the Sift meetings has been an invaluable learning opportunity for the new Digital Fund team in terms of digital grant making.

On a personal note, working with Tom has been brilliant. I’ve felt supported, championed, appreciated and best of all, I’ve learnt from him.

Thank you Tom! 🙏🏼

Who works here? – an introduction each week from inside the Big Lottery Fund

This week I’m introducing you to Derek Bardowell, Senior Head of the UK Portfolio. He’s amazing 🔥@DerekABard

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3 things you do in your role?

  • Inspire ambitious thinking while trying to find ways of giving my team the freedom to implement
  • Always trying to move the ‘marginalised to the centre’ in everything I do
  • Investing wisely, equitably, and favourably

What are you working on at the moment that you’re inspired or excited by?

I’m really proud of our work that is attempting to diversify leadership in philanthropy and civil society. Leadership in our sector does not reflect the communities being served, so it has been great supporting work that aims to redress the balance systemically.

What is your burning question of the moment?

I have several. But the first that sprang to mind was, how can we move beyond just funding institutions to enabling more individuals and movements with great ideas to access our resources?

Wishing everyone a joyful and peaceful holiday and see you in 2019.


Run UK Portfolio at National Lottery Community Fund, Co-founder of the Point People, Policy Fellow IIPP, Founder Stewarding Loss, International Futures Forum.

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