What was Big Potential?

Big Potential was a £20m Big Lottery Fund grant fund that provided grants and support to charities and social enterprises to help them work out how social investment could help them become more sustainable, build their capacity and scale up to deliver greater social impact. 

The grants were used to help pay for specialist support from approved ‘providers’. All providers were individuals or organisations with specialist expertise that could provide technical, financial, legal, business or other support. All providers needed to have a proven track record of helping other charities and social enterprises successfully raise investment.

The programme had two different application routes; Big Potential Breakthrough and Big Potential Advanced.

Breakthrough was aimed at organisations who wanted support to help explore how social investment might help them and/or were looking to raise less than £500,000 of investment.

Advanced was aimed at organisations who were clear about how social investment could help them and who wanted to raise investment over £500,000. It was also available to organisations looking to win contracts worth more than £1 million.

What did Big Potential offer?

a multi stage application process that helped applicants think about how they could develop in order to attract investment.

The first stage was simply an eligibility check. Big Potential was available to voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations operating in England.

For eligible organisations wishing to apply for Advanced the next stage was to submit an application alongside an approved provider. Grants of £50,000 - £150,000 were available.

For eligible organisations wishing to apply for a Breakthrough grant there were several stages to complete.

The first was an online diagnostic tool. This helped potential applicants explore their finances, people, customers, services and processes to better understand what they needed to do to become ‘investment ready’. If you would like to take a similar diagnostic tool for your own organisation we recommend the VCSE Strength Checker.

The next stage was a 1-1 session with a specialist advisor. These experts, from Locality, Social Enterprise UK or Charity Bank, helped applicants examine the results of their diagnostic report in more detail to understand their options.

For those organisations who wanted to apply for a grant they then had to submit an application alongside an approved provider. Grants of £20,000 - £75,000 were available.