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research report

BIG and small

Capacity-building, small organisations and the Big Lottery Fund

July 2010

Rebecca Moran, Ben Cairns, Joanna Howard, Rob Macmillan, Marilyn Taylor


This research aimed to provide evidence to the BIG Lottery Fund (BIG) on how best to target its efforts to build capacity or support capacity building in [small] groups that apply to it for funding.  The research took place between March 2009 and March 2010 and was carried out by a team led by IVAR, in collaboration with colleagues from the Third Sector Research Centre, the University of the West of England and Cordis Bright.   The report brings together the findings of a review of relevant literature, an analysis of information from Merlin (BIG’s grant-making database), interviews with 13 BIG staff and 24 applicant organisations, and an online survey completed by 122 applicants.  It outlines a range of issues that BIG, and other funders, need to take into account when developing an approach to capacity building.  This includes:  

  • the purpose of capacity building;
  • targeting capacity building;
  • diagnosing capacity building needs;
  • delivering capacity building.

The report concludes by recognising that the depth and breadth of any capacity building support must be weighed against the potential resource implications.


(BIG and small Report 2010)


(BIG and small Executive Summary 2010)

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