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Digital Fund Weeknotes 11 (21st — 25th January)

Firstly, if you were someone that did apply to the Digital Fund, please can you take part in this mini feedback survey? It’s only 4 questions and will help us think about how to improve what we do next time.

What we are doing

This week we’ve split into roles in the team. Billy and Livia are doing research and analysis on the data from the 1200 applications which will help inform some of the ways we respond to the demand and what we design next. Laura has been setting up the other 160 phone calls(!). Cath and Amy have been keeping us all on top of writing up the calls and then reviewing them as a team. We’ve had 3 group sessions reviewing call logs this week, as way of learning and checking in on the judgements we are making.

Joel and David have been finishing uploading all the applications in Hub Spot (the platform that is used here to track applications) and John and I have been planning out the process for those we’ve invited to put in full proposals. All of us have also been doing calls this week. As an example, I did two days of back to back calls. And phew! I feel exhausted reading all that.

That’s all alongside external and internal meetings, presenting at the UK Portfolio Panel, and thinking ahead.

What we are learning

Last week I talked about why we didn’t fund things, this week I will say a bit about the ones we’ve put forward to the next stage so far.

For Strand 1 applications

  • The applicant had already designed and delivered some kind of clearly-digitally-enabled service that delivered direct, potentially scalable benefits to people (i.e more than just use digital for marketing or fundraising purposes)
  • The applicant was clearly driven by a desire to share and improve the success of the wider field, not just the organisation itself
  • The applicant made explicit references to ambitions to change the structure of the organisation, or the way that services are designed and delivered
  • The applicant made explicit reference to organisational change and could demonstrate leadership backing
  • The applicant could show the organisation had already invested in digital
  • The applicant was able to explicitly cite challenges to which the organisation has to respond
  • The applicant explicitly mentioned learnings from research, and how that had affected decisions as well as a commitment to iterative approaches and experimentation
  • The applicant had a very clear articulation of who is going to benefit, clearly based on research and showed an understanding of experimental approaches to demonstrating impact.

For Strand 2 applications

  • The applicant made it clear that a digitally enabled service, operated by the applicant, had been launched and was being used (by a significant number of people)
  • The applicant made it clear that good quality user research had been conducted and had informed design decisions and that therefore, the product or service showed signs of being developed based around user need
  • The applicant talked about quantifying or measuring the impact so far and was able to talk about the potential impact the funding could help them go on to achieve
  • It was clear that a strong founding team was in place, with a good mix of skills and good digital practice at the heart of how they’ve been developing.

What we’re celebrating

It’s actually been quite hard to celebrate this week. The team have done an amazing job, but it’s emotionally draining to reject so many people for funding. On Monday evening, working late in the office to meet our deadline, we sent the last email out to the 1000 organisations we’d said “no” to.

We’ve had to be firm, and stick to the Success Factors that we set out when the Digital Fund was launched. We’ve also had to be ambitious for what the fund (and the sector) can achieve. But knowing that your decisions will have a real impact on people takes it toll — carrying around a feeling that you’ve disappointed (perhaps an understatement)1,000 people this week is tough.

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

I haven’t done this for a few weeks, since I did Derek Bardowell, Senior Head of the UK Portfolio but I’m back on it! This week I’m introducing you to Francine Woolcock, Facilities Manager for the London and Exeter office.

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3 things you do in your role?

  • Motivate and positively influence my team to deliver excellent customer service.
  • Ask questions all the time in order to improve and innovate in the services provided to staff and stakeholders.
  • Remain calm and collected.

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

To appreciate how valuable their hard work is to the communities we fund, I feel it is imperative that staff are exposed to the projects and good causes that we fund as much as possible.

Therefore, I am excited to be introducing some all staff sessions and interior changes to improve our culture and ensure staff feel more connected with the work we do.

What is your burning question of the moment?

Without resorting to clones and robots, how better can we distribute our people into the community and more efficiently reach the many organisations that need our support.

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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