Improving Lives

Grants from £20,001 to £200,000 to help people facing challenging circumstances.

We know people, communities and organisations are facing increased demands and challenges as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. If you would like to talk to us about a project in response to this, please get in touch at

Suitable for
Voluntary or community organisations, Public sector organisations
Funding size
£20,001 to £200,000
Application deadline

Midday on 21 August 2024

What's it all about?

Many people experience challenges at some point in their lives. Through Improving Lives we aim to support activity that helps people overcome these difficulties and become more resilient.

We want to fund activity that means people:

  • are better able to identify ways to take control over their lives and build resilience
  • are able to shape the activities and services they use to better meet their needs
  • have more access to support and opportunities to improve their lives.

As of 1 October 2020 we changed our process for Improving Lives and there is only one application form. The maximum grant size is now £200,000 and the maximum grant length is three years.

Check if you’re eligible

What types of activity will we fund?

Improving Lives will fund activity that:

  • supports children, young people and families currently experiencing challenging circumstances
  • supports people that have experienced abuse
  • tackles loss, isolation or loneliness
  • supports people that experience discrimination and/or work to challenge discrimination
  • supports people facing financial hardship.

We will consider activity which aims to prevent as well as respond to these issues.

There are some things that we won’t fund including mainstream employability activity, such as job search support.

All applicants need to demonstrate that their activity is people-led, connected, and strengths-based. We call these our three approaches. Find out more about what that means in the three approaches section of our website.

Who can apply?

Most organisations are eligible to apply but we’re particularly keen to see applications from smaller organisations working at a local level that we haven’t been able to fund previously.

Existing National Lottery Community Fund grantholders can apply but you can usually only have one Improving Lives grant at a time. However, there are restrictions on how many Improving Lives grants you can hold at any one time – contact us at or 0300 123 7110 for further information.

You need a board or committee with at least three members who are not related

Related can mean:

- related by marriage

- in a civil partnership with each other

- in a long-term relationship with each other

- related through a long term partner

- living together at the same address

- related by blood.

All companies who apply must have at least two directors who are not related in any of these ways. This also applies to companies that are also registered as charities.

How much can you apply for?

You can apply for funding for up to three years and you can apply for between £20,001 and £200,000

Your application may have a better chance if you can demonstrate some level of match funding. However, we can fund up to 100% of the costs of your activity including staff, equipment, premises costs and overheads. We refer to these types of costs as 'revenue costs' and would expect these to be the main focus of your application. You can also include up to £50,000 of minor capital costs as part of your overall activity for items such as building refurbishment or adaptations.

The National Lottery Community Fund is a Living Wage Friendly Funder. This means that we encourage our applicants to pay their staff the UK Living Wage.

Visit the Living Wage Foundation to find out more about the Living Wage.

There are some things we can’t pay for, such as anything you spend money on before you get a decision from us, activities outside the UK and activities that actively promote religion. Check with us if you are unsure.

How do you apply?

If you’d like to apply for a grant, please contact one of our team on or 0300 123 7110.

We’ll have an informal chat with you about the idea you need funding for, and can send you out an application form.

Please note applications must be submitted by midday on 21 August 2024 when Improving Lives will close to applications.

For more information on this funding you can access the sample application form below.

Related documents

Reduce your environmental footprint

The National Lottery Community Fund cares about our environment and are always striving to manage our environmental impact. We encourage and support projects and communities to do the same. Learn more about how you can make your project or event more environmentally sustainable and perhaps save money at the same time.


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