Participatory Grantmaking Practice


We’re exploring how participatory grantmaking can be used within The National Lottery Community Fund and will be sharing what we learn about participatory grantmaking approaches as we go. Here’s what we’ve done so far.


Participatory grantmaking or PGM is an approach to funding decisions and strategies that emphasises a ‘nothing about us without us’ approach. It aims to shift power in grant making decisions from foundation staff to communities and those most affected by a social issue.

There are several different models of PGM that we can use in the fund including having decision making boards made up of community members, community members joining our existing decision making, and using community votes.

We are working with colleagues across TNLCF to understand how we can use PGM to put our People in the Lead strategy into practice. People in the Lead drives all of our work at the fund and is based on the principle that people understand what’s needed in their communities better than anyone. We want to understand and explore how the various PGM approaches can help us make better grants, support communities to thrive, make our funding more accessible, and improve our grantmaking through drawing on the wisdom in communities. We also think that PGM is a good way to build connection, new skills and capacity in communities. We currently have 8 PGM explorations underway across the Fund from which we’ll be sharing the successes and challenges, and building an evidence base to help us make strategic choices about when and where PGM is the best approach to use. These are some of the experiments underway:

  • The Phoenix Fund - a collaborative funding programme developed with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities across England where funding decisions are made collaboratively with BAME staff and community members;
  • The Leaders with Lived Experience Programme also uses a model of co-design to create the funding programme and Lived Experience Leaders join us for the decision making
  • We’ll be looking at how our Young People in the Lead team can be joining our Reaching Communities process;
  • How community vote events can support out local teams
  • And a few others that are in the pipeline.

What we’ve done so far

We’ve already trialled several different PGM approaches in the last few years. From Community Votes in the Clogher Valley and Torquay, community panels in Jaywick, to specific funding programmes like Leaders with Lived Experience and The Phoenix Fund. We have started to develop learning from all of these – exploring what’s gone well and what’s we’d do differently next time.

We’ve been working across the Fund to develop an understanding and practice of PGM, what our principles of using PGM are, and how these fit in with our organisational framework. We’ve been sharing this learning internally through a community of practice and more widely through conversations with other funders and our website.

We'll be adding resources and materials to this page as we continue to listen to, and learn from, the sector about what works best for them.