Managing over £4.4 billion of funding for good causes
Big Lottery Fund (BIG) is the largest distributor of national lottery money to good causes in the United Kingdom. Its mission is to bring real improvements to communities and lives of people most in need. The organization does this by using money raised by The National Lottery to fund projects for health, education, environmental and charitable purposes.
What BIG lottery fund needed
BIG reaches into the heart of communities in the UK and helps those most in need, in the form of grants. The recipient could be disabled youth receiving a Paralympics visit; rural communities in Scotland being supported to become more resilient and sustainable; a publicly funded music studio for young people; or social and environmental projects to build stronger local communities.
VCS organizations that count on BIG to award grants are increasing in number. in 2007, BIG decided to strengthen the grant management process. They wanted to do this in a way that would not only handle increasing volumes of applicants but also cope with the distribution of funds and changing business environment — without making major alterations to existing applications. The solution needed to be easy-to-use, resilient and effective in terms of cost and changing functionality.
We designed, built and implemented the Merlin suite — now the established portal for BIG. It’s the primary business tool used by BIG’s grants officers and managers, and aids other departments like finance, particularly in reporting and payment of grants. Users benefit by rapid access to the system, the ability to self-configure workflow for funding programs and resilience through hosting the system across two sites.
A success story
Now, five years later, BIG has every reason to be satisfied with the way the grant management process has been re-engineered and ironed out.
To put it simply, people from various departments of BIG now rely on the system instead of using lists. For example, the finance department can define and manage the distribution of grant money to successful applicants using the payments functionality provided by us. Grants officers can provide data about applications to help decide who is to be awarded money. Managers can easily access a range of reporting features — both pre-defined and ad-hoc — through a separate application for enquiries.
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