News & Insight

17th April 2019

The Heritage Lottery Fund is dead; long live the National Lottery Heritage Fund 

Liz Purchase, Senior Consultant, Arts & Heritage at Philanthropy Company, shares insight into the rebirth and future plans of the National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Lottery turns twenty-five this year and its impact has been transformational – not just in the creation of more than 5,000 millionaires!  For the nation’s heritage, this transformation has seen ancient monuments revived, historic churches saved, important archives unlocked and digitised, and oral histories recorded.  It has enabled museums, galleries, industrial heritage sites, historic libraries and houses undertake major capital projects, welcome more diverse audiences, bring to life collections, and share the nation’s stories.  It has helped bring local communities together to celebrate their heritage, and is has also been a key catalyst for the UK’s multi-billion pound tourism industry. 

As Charles Saumarez Smith has said “The era of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants… has helped make Britain the world leader in cultural regeneration”.[1]

During 2018, HLF was in abeyance and the heritage sector waited with bated breath for the launch of the new incarnation of the fund.  Finally, at the beginning of this year, the curtain was raised on the newly named National Lottery Heritage Fund and its new Strategic Funding Framework. 

Shaped by a year-long consultation with the heritage sector and the public last year, the new Funding Framework 2019-2024 sets out clear priorities for continued National Lottery investment in heritage.  Without the millions of UK lottery ticket buyers, this wouldn’t be possible so the new name is designed to clarify that. 

Like business, the heritage sector does not take kindly to uncertainty (the future of the VAT refund for listed churches a case in point) but for the next five years there is at least one major source of funding that can be relied on, and there are quite a few reasons to celebrate the new National Lottery Heritage Fund framework. After a temporary freeze during the consultation period last year, the multi-million pound grants are back on the table, there is a greater emphasis on benefitting communities, new investment models have been introduced (loans and partnerships are also now available), and a pot of £1.2 billion is set to be available for the next five years to support successful applicants.

Amazing starts here

Even though the heritage sector is assured of National Lottery investment for another five years, the bid process will still be highly competitive.  The Heritage Fund will be looking for solid fundraising plans and commitments of match-funding in an application, which can be daunting for heritage organisations.  As far as fundraising goes, the heritage sector is relatively underdeveloped and underserved; programmes like The Heritage Alliance’s Giving to Heritage: Training for Fundraising helps, but there is still a big gap in support and advice.  Aside from giants in the field like English Heritage, major museums and galleries, the majority of independent heritage organisations don’t have a designated development team; securing the funding that will contribute to a successful National Lottery Heritage Fund bid, is a big job that often falls to already overstretched management teams, curators, site managers, and education staff; or to enthusiastic, but inexperienced volunteers.

At the Philanthropy Company we have the experience and skills to support heritage organisations find and secure vital funding; we are plugged into a network of high-profile heritage and cultural sector organisations, and to the UK funders that support them; we have a particularly strong experience driving HLF funded capital campaigns.  

Our team has secured major HLF grants for English Heritage, private funding for Historic England, and supported the sector (National Trust, Mary Rose, National Gallery) fundraise for major projects.  We are pleased to be in a position to support the heritage sector; and we would be delighted to discuss how we can help you. Please do not hesitate to get in touch.


[1] BOP Consulting, HLF Major Grants – the first 100, 2015.

“Philanthropy Company helped us think through our Revenue Fundraising Strategy, create a compelling case for support and research prospects. It gave us confidence that we were focusing in the right areas and helped us hone our skills in making the ask to donors.” Mary Rose Trust

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