Big Potential - Burton Street Foundation

About Big Potential

Big Potential, a Big Lottery Fund grant fund, will deliver approximately £20m of grant funding over 3 years to eligible VCSE organisations with the aim of improving the sustainability, capacity and scale of VCSE organisations in order that they may deliver greater social impact.

The programme aims to raise awareness of the social investment market and support VCSEs who want to prepare themselves for social investment or winning contracts.

Big Potential has two possible application routes - Breakthrough and Advanced.

How much can VCSEs apply for?


Eligible VCSE organisations will be able to access specialist one to one support from the Big Potential programme partners before making an application for a grant to undertake more in-depth investment readiness work with one of Big Potential’s approved providers. 

There are two different types of grant; Preliminary Grants and Investment Plan Grants. 

Preliminary Grants are available to VCSEs at the initial stage of their social investment journey that are yet to determine what type of social investment will be appropriate for their needs. VCSEs can apply for Preliminary Grants of between £20,000 to £30,000. 

Investment Plan Grants are available to VCSEs that already have a social investment proposition and know what the deal might look like. VCSEs can apply for Investment Plan Grants of between £40,000 to £50,000.

VCSEs can apply for both types of grant but we would not expect any one organisation to receive more than £75,000 in total.


The Advanced route of Big Potential will be available to VCSEs that are clear about how social investment could work for them and can describe a potential deal or interest from investors and need help to close that deal. The Advanced route is also available to organisations that need help securing a contract. Grants of between £50,000 and £150,000 are available.

Who can apply?


VCSE organisations based in England who are thinking about taking on social investment and have the ambition to raise up to £500,000 of repayable investment can apply to the Breakthrough route. Why not check if your organisation is eligible to apply for a Big Potential grant.


VCSE organisations based in England who are thinking about taking on social investment and have the ambition to raise over £500,000 of repayable investment and/or win a contract of above £1million can apply for the Advanced route.

Apply to be a provider 

Become an approved investment readiness provider to showcase your business services to social sector organisations.  

Big Potential is creating a database of expert providers of investment readiness services. This database will be accessible to anyone visiting the Big Potential website and will be a shop window for approved business advisors seeking to offer expert investment readiness support to the VCSE sector. 

When can VCSE organisations apply?

VCSE organisations can start their application to Big Potential by completing the eligibility check now.