Tricolor’s guide to submitting a National Lottery Heritage Fund Expression of Interest Form

Since the National Lottery Heritage Fund launched its new Strategic Framework in early 2019, the Expression of Interest Form is mandatory for anyone thinking of applying for a grant above £250,000. Janina McBride, director at Tricolor, demystifies the process

NLHF introduced the mandatory Expression of Interest (EoI) Form when it launched its new Strategic Framework and application materials earlier this year. With increased competition for funding, this was to prevent organisations expending time and resource on developing projects unlikely to get support.

Organisations familiar with the Fund’s previous processes might remember them as project enquiry forms, or pre-application forms before that. The short form remains largely the same, except the EoI is now mandatory and used to decide whether to invite an organisation to submit a development phase application. It is submitted via the NLHF online application portal account and so if they do not have one already, applicants need to create an account.

The EoI Form – some tips!

The key section of the form where organisations are asked to describe the project has a word count of 800. Use bullets and keep the response short and to the point to describe:

  • Heritage focus – What is the heritage (e.g. historic building, culture and memories)? What is important about it and to whom is it important (e.g. experts or the local community)? Is it considered to be at risk (e.g on the At Risk Register if a building or a species identified as a priority in a Biodiversity Action Plan)?
  • What will the project do (capital work and activities) – Make a list of the key outputs the project will deliver, and do not forget the activities. E.g. alongside restoring a building, or conserving an archive, you may deliver: apprenticeships for NEETs; run training for staff and volunteers; provide formal and informal learning; develop a website and make materials available digitally; offer volunteering opportunities to target community groups; and create a co-curated exhibition etc).
  • What programme outcomes you are hoping to achieve – There are 9 programme outcomes to consider. All projects are expected to achieve ‘a wider range of people will be involved in heritage.’ You do not need to achieve against all 9; but the larger the grant request, the more the Fund will expect. Consider which outcomes are relevant to your project and to what extent you can achieve against each of them.
  • Why you want to do this project (what is the need and demand) – Briefly describe what consultation you have done so far. How do you know there is demand from audiences, stakeholders or delivery partners? What is the need in terms of the heritage?
  • Feasibility or options work done so far – How do you know this option is the right one, what has been discounted?
  • Timescales – How long will the project take? You can take a maximum of 2 years to complete the development phase and 5 years for the delivery phase.
  • Overall cost including a short breakdown of key items of expenditure – What is your total project cost? The NLHF application form sets out cost subheadings to use – list your high-level sub-costs under these headings.

Finally, organisations need to state how much they are likely to request from the Fund, and when they are likely to submit a development phase application if invited to do so. Whilst the intended submission date and the grant request can shift, organisations should let the Fund know of any significant changes.

The EoI Application Process

For grants of £250,000 – £5 million there are no deadlines for submitting an EoI. Bear in mind deadlines for submitting a development phase application are set quarterly and published on the NLHF’s website. An EoI response takes about 20 days – so this should be planned into the programme accordingly.

EoI’s are either approved, and organisations invited to submit a development phase application or rejected. Those rejected will not be able to resubmit another EoI for 3 months.

If approved, an organisation must submit their development phase application within 12 months.

 If would like advice on preparing a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, visit tricolorassociates.co.uk or email [email protected].

You can also find more information on our M+H Advisor Directory Page here.