Like most councils, following the government’s decision to reduce the level of grants to local authorities, we are actively exploring new income streams, streamlining processes, reducing costs and working innovatively in partnership.
Our approach, ambitions, challenges and actions were brought together in Mendip’s transformation plan. This identified that in the medium term the amount of funding we have available for voluntary and community sector organisations will be affected. However, in the short term, a lottery is very much seen as opportunity for VCS organisations to raise funds for themselves; in this way it does not replace council funding to the third sector.
Historically, we provided substantial financial support for the VCS within our district, helping to deliver a number of corporate aims. Currently, we distribute about £180,000 per annum through funding and support arrangements, as well as £650,000 over the past three years through a local legacy fund, plus other one-off support from time to time.
With all this in mind, we have been investigating ways to address this position and we had been considering the idea of running a council-run lottery for some time. The local authority lottery platform developed by Aylesbury Vale DC and Gatherwell provided a solution to make this happen in a tried and tested way, so we are using a similar model for the Shape Mendip Lottery.
All funds raised by the lottery would be spent within the district and provide benefits to the people and communities of Mendip. The council takes no money from the lottery.
The lottery helps move the council from the role of ‘provider’ to that of ‘enabler’. It has the potential to help all VCS organisations active in the district by helping address any funding pressures they are facing. Money raised can be spent on what the good cause decides, so in this way it is unrestricted and can be used, for example, to fund core costs as well as service delivery and special campaigns. It can also help any size of VCS organisation. We know that often only the larger ones use their own fundraisers, so we very much hope we can make a big difference to the smaller organisations to raise funds for themselves (there are no administration cost or other fees involved), making it easier to survive. All VCS organisations that join will help promote the lottery and they’ll each get a webpage on the lottery site as well as bespoke marketing materials.
Ticket buyers can support a specific cause or a central pot. The central pot will offer one-off grants to the sector, initially once a year, and the sector itself will help decide how this money is allocated.
We’ve found Gatherwell to be very professional, helpful and accommodating. For example, when we applied for our lottery licence from the Gambling Commission, Gatherwell advised us on how to answer questions about the day-to-day operations of the lottery, advised on support documentation and then liaised with the Gambling Commission on our behalf.