Funding in Northern Ireland

The National Lottery Community Fund is the largest community funder in the UK. Each year we distribute millions of pounds of funding raised by National Lottery players to community groups and charitable projects across Northern Ireland.

We are here to help and want to talk to you about your ideas to support communities through these difficult times.

Our priority is to keep money flowing to support communities that are having to adapt to the increasing challenges of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland.

Contact us if you have an idea on 028 9055 1455 or at

Funding programme update

We are planning to keep our main programmes – National Lottery Awards for All, People and Communities and Empowering Young People open until the end of 2022. This will provide a level of certainty and stability for the people and organisations we are proud to support.

This means we are postponing the launch of our next portfolio of funding, which we had planned for the end of 2021. Over the next year we will be reviewing and refreshing our current funding programmes and planning for our portfolio post-2022.

Paul Sweeney, Chair of our Northern Ireland Committee and UK Board member shares plans for how we’ll continue to support communities across Northern Ireland over the next 18 months in this recent blog.

What funding is available?

National Lottery Awards for All Northern Ireland


  • Projects bringing local people together to make positive changes in their community.
  • No deadline, so groups can apply any time.
  • Applying is quick and simple.
  • Applications welcome from constituted voluntary or community organisations, schools, and statutory bodies.
  • If we funded you within the last two years, we may have to give priority to other groups that have not recently been funded through this programme.
  • This funding is for projects that will run for 12 months or less

Find out more

People and Communities


  • Project ideas should come from the community. Talk to the people you want to help and get them involved in shaping and planning the project.
  • Your project should make good use of the skills, knowledge, resources and energy of people within your community; making it stronger and ready for the future.
  • Understand the need for your project and how it fits with the work of other organisations. Build relationships and work together on shared goals.
  • Applications welcome from constituted voluntary or community organisations, and social enterprises.
  • This funding is for projects that will run for between 1 and 5 years.

Find out more

Empowering Young People


  • This funding is for projects that work with young people (8 – 25 years old), and which will run for between 1 and 5 years.
  • Projects will help young people to: have the skills they need for the future; have better relationships with their support networks and communities; and/or have improved health and wellbeing.
  • Young people must be involved in the planning and delivery of the project. They must be able to develop the skills to help themselves, and their support networks and communities need to be involved too.
  • Applications welcome from constituted voluntary or community organisations, and social enterprises.

Find out more

Dormant Accounts Fund

  • The fund opened for applications on Tuesday, 12 January 2021.
  • This fund will support the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to be more resilient and prepared for the future by funding activity that increases capacity and sustainability.
  • Dormant accounts are UK bank and building society accounts that have been untouched for 15 or more years, and where banks and building societies are unable to trace the customer who owns the account. They are not derived from National Lottery activity.
  • Under Section 22 of the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008, we distribute money under direction from the Department of Finance.
  • To make sure this funding has maximum impact in communities, we held a consultation in late 2019. You can read what we heard.
  • In the first phase, we have developed a flexible and responsive grant programme that will support organisations to be able to adapt to future challenges and be more financially resilient.
  • We'll also support larger investments that will enable collaboration and develop new and creative approaches to sustainability. These Northern Ireland-wide or sector-specific proposals could focus on specific themes such as volunteering, digital capacity or diversity and inclusion.  If you have any questions, contact us.

Find out more

We’d like to talk to you about your ideas early on so we can give you the best funding advice, so please call our team on 028 9055 1455.


While our main funding programmes remain open, our immediate priority is to keep money flowing to support people, communities and organisations affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

We’re keeping our commitments to existing grant holders and funding new projects supporting communities who are adapting to the increasing challenges of COVID-19.

We are prioritising applications from:

  1. Organisations supporting people who are at high risk from COVID-19
  2. Organisations supporting communities most likely to face increased demand and challenges as a direct result of COVID-19
  3. Organisations with high potential to support communities with the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19

If you have already sent us an application, we will be in touch to discuss it.

A snapshot of funding in Northern Ireland for 2018/19

  • 577 grants in total, across every local authority area

  • 533 awards to VCSE organisations with an income of less than £1m

  • 91% of grants are Awards for All and for £10,000 or less

  • Over a quarter of grants were made to groups applying to us for the first time

  • £10m awarded to projects supporting young people

  • £3.4m awarded to projects primarily supporting people to improve their mental health

  • £6.8m awarded to projects supporting people with disabilities

About the ideas we support

We believe people should be in the lead when improving their lives and communities. We focus on the potential in people’s ideas, and on the skills and energy people already have that they can draw on. We ask what matters to communities, not what’s the matter with them.

We are interested in ideas that:

  • Involve people from the community right from the start – we want them to be involved in the development, design and delivery of a project.
  • Bring people together and strengthen relationships in and across communities.
  • Encourage people and organisations to work together to make a difference in their community.

We do this through:

  • Funding grassroots projects that bring people and communities together.
  • Asking groups to contact us early on so we can give advice and support, including feedback about which of our funding programmes is right for them.
  • Offering a range of flexible funding and support to make sure we’re able to help the biggest range of groups.
  • Helping organisations to share their learning with others.