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National Lottery Community Fund Grants For Solar Panels

The National Lottery Community Fund is dedicated to funding projects that benefit communities across the UK. One aspect of the funding is geared specifically towards energy use, reducing climate change, and developing more sustainable communities. There are several different funds available. Some of them are smaller funds for any projects whereas others are larger funds with specific goals in mind for the types of projects they will fund.

Grants For Solar Panels

What Is The National Lottery Community Fund?

The National Lottery Community Fund is an executive non-departmental public body. Public bodies are public sector organisations that have a role in governmental processes but they aren't a ministerial department. In this case, the National Lottery is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport.

The fund distributes more than £600 million a year to community organisations and community projects. This money comes directly from National Lottery players.

The National Lottery's ambition for the Community Fund through to 2030 is to "...create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable." And there is a plan to distribute more than £4 billion over that time.

While all local communities and community groups are eligible for funding projects, the National Lottery does deliberately invest more in disadvantaged areas. These are places where people experience poverty, disadvantage, and discrimination, or who might be most badly hit by the cost of living crisis.

Check out: Solar Panel Grants For Homes

Community Fund Grants For Solar Panels

Four Main Areas Of Support

The National Lottery Community Fund will support communities in a wide range of ventures, but its plan until 2030 is to focus on four main areas.

Support Communities To Be More Environmentally Sustainable

Community-led climate action is supported. This will include specific project funding, such as the Climate Action Fund, as well as ad hoc funding for community climate action projects.

There is a focus on projects that:

  • Reduce carbon emissions
  • Create positive environmental impacts
  • Improve the quality of natural spaces and make them equally accessible to all

Support Communities To Come Together

This branch of funding is geared towards fostering connections between people to bind communities together.

It can include:

  • Creating accessible and welcoming places (both physical and virtual)
  • Creating engaging and inclusive activities
  • Enabling people from all backgrounds to shape their own communities
  • Increasing the sense of belonging of community members

Support Children And Young People To Thrive

Community activities, experiences, and support can transform children and young people's lives. This branch of funding aims to foster those experiences.

It will fund projects that:

  • Provide children and young people with access to safe places to play, participate, socialise, and get support
  • Ensure that children from all backgrounds have access to these spaces
  • Give children the chance to shape their own communities

Support Communities To Live Healthier Lives

This area of funding aims to improve health (both physical and mental) and well-being in local communities.

It will fund projects that are focused on:

  • Taking a preventative approach to health issues
  • Helping communities to take positive health and wellbeing actions
  • Reducing health inequalities
  • Increasing the opportunity for communication participation to shape better health services

Different Types Of Funding Programmes

There are several funding programmes available through the National Lottery Community Fund. They can be broadly split into two groups:

  • National Lottery Awards for All
  • Specific larger programmes

National Lottery Awards For All

This is the most accessible type of National Lottery funding. These awards are for smaller community projects. The funding limit used to be £10,000 but since Autumn, 2023 it has doubled to £20,000. The minimum grant is £300.

There are different Awards for All available for all UK countries. So England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will have a specific award.

The application process for Awards for All is designed to be quick and simple. You will need to apply at least 16 weeks before the project is due to start.

National Lottery Awards For All 1

Who Can Receive This Type Of Funding?

  • A constituted voluntary or community organisation and group or club
  • A registered charity
  • A charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
  • A not-for-profit company
  • A community interest company (CIC)
  • A school (must provide evidence that the project will benefit the surrounding community)
  • A statutory body (town, parish, community council, or local authority)

What Can The Funding Be Used For?

  • Running costs
  • Staff and training costs
  • Utilities and transport costs
  • Volunteer expenses
  • One-off events
  • Some capital costs such as small land or refurbishment projects

Larger Specific Funding

Each quarter, the National Lottery Community Fund will release specific funding opportunities. These can be for different sectors but they are focused on a narrow targeted funding effort.

For example, the Climate Action Fund is a funding programme focused on community energy projects and community-led climate action.

In the past, it has funded projects related to Energy and Climate Change. This focused on bringing communities together to promote energy efficiency and engage with opportunities for clean energy generation.

The current funding for the Climate Action Fund is focused on Our Shared Future. There is £20 million of funding available to inspire and involve people in climate action and enact bold and exciting change.

The funding is for formal partnership projects that aim to reach more people through:

  • Linking climate action to the everyday lives of local communities
  • Bringing regional and national communities together in climate action

The minimum amount of funding is £500,000 and the expected amount for each project will be between £1 million and £1.5 million over 3-5 years.

Formal partnerships working across different sectors can apply for this funding, led by community and voluntary organisations or public sector organisations.

larger specific funding

Will The National Lottery Community Fund Help With Solar Energy Projects?

One of the four main aims of the National Lottery Community Fund is to support environmental action as well as specific environmental projects, under their Environmentally Sustainable area.

This is the area of funding most likely to be suited to solar energy projects. Specifically, the aims to:

  • Reduce carbon emissions and negative environmental impact
  • Create a positive environmental impact

Let's take a look at the type of funding programme that could be used for a solar energy project as well as some example projects that have been funded in the past.

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Will The National Lottery Community Fund Help With Solar Energy Projects 1

Larger Projects

Some specific funding programmes could be used for solar panel installation. For example, if you are located in Northern Ireland, the Sustainable Community Buildings Fund is available for voluntary organisations with an annual income of less than £500,000 and is focused on:

  • Learning to be more environmentally sustainable
  • Working with experts to develop a sustainability plan for your organisation
  • Sharing the benefits of being more sustainable with the local community
  • Improve the environmental performance of your building (with solar panels as one specified example)

This funding is up to £50,000 but is only available for a handful of council areas at any given time, to manage demand.

There is other local action funding available that could include solar panel installation as part of their development grants.

The current Climate Action Fund - Our Shared Future, however, is not something that would include the installation of solar panels. It is focused on promoting climate action through people working together and specifically can't be used to fund any building work. With that being said, applications for this programme will close in early 2025 and there may be future projects within the Climate Action Fund which could include funding for building work.

National Lottery Awards For All

National Lottery Rewards for All is a viable option for the funding of solar panel installation. This programme is open on a rolling basis and you can apply at any point in the year.

Previous solar panel projects funded by National Lottery Awards for All include the installation of solar panels on a community centre in Clifford, Herefordshire. They aimed to enable the community centre to generate its own electricity, reduce its carbon footprint, and generate some extra income for the centre by selling the electricity back to the National Grid. There was a grant awarded of £10,000 for this project.

How To Apply

The application process for National Lottery Awards for All is designed to be quick and easy. The project can be between £300 and £20,000 and is open to non-profit organisations only.

You will need to provide some pieces of evidence. These include:

  • The contact details and home addresses of two people from your organisation (they cannot be related, including by marriage or cohabitation)
  • Your organisation's legal name and address, and what type of organisation it is. The charity or company number can also be useful information to add here
  • Information about your organisation's accounts, including its income
  • Detailed information about the project you would like to do, including how it will help and involve the community

After You Apply

You will usually hear back around 16 weeks after you apply. If you have been successful, the funding will be put into your organisation's bank account within 14 days. And you can start work on the project immediately.

The National Lottery Community Fund will often check in from time to time to see how the money is being spent and how the project is coming along.

How Skylamp Solar Can Help

We can't help you to apply to the National Lottery Community Fund for development grants. It is explicitly against their terms and conditions for businesses to help with the application process.

But what we can do is be your trusted point of contact for the solar panel element of the project. We will work closely with you, and with the National Lottery directly if needed, to ensure the solar panel installation is perfectly in line with your organisation's aims and the aims laid out in your application.

We will discuss in detail what you hope you achieve with your solar panels and will visit the site in person to determine the best solar panel type to use and their optimal placement. After this, we will give you a clear and detailed quote for the work. This can then be submitted as part of your application and referred to directly when working with the National Lottery Community Fund.

While the project is ongoing, we will stay in constant contact with you for updates and if any problems arise that could impact the duration or cost.

For further information about how solar panels could help your community organisation, get in touch. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is ready to help get you started.

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