What is Big Potential?

Big Potential, a Big Lottery Fund grant fund, will deliver approximately £20m of grant funding over 3 years to voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) with the aim of improving the sustainability, capacity and scale of VCSEs 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. Please be aware that Big Potential Advanced has now closed to new applications. 


The chance to consider if social investment can help fund existing activities and services through:

  • Breakthrough Grants of between £20,000 and £75,000 for specialist business support to help raise new repayable investment of up to £500,000.
  • Advanced Grants of up to £150,000 for specialist business support to help raise new repayable investment above £500,000 or to help win contracts worth above £1million. Please be aware that Big Potential Advanced has now closed to new applications. 
  • Fully Supported Diagnostic Service – including a helpful online tool and an in-depth 1:1 session with an expert advisor if you apply for a Breakthrough grant.
  • Website Resources including how-to guides, case studies and video content  about social investment


If you have not yet registered and submitted your diagnostic you will not be able to apply for a Big Potential Breakthrough grant. The deadline for submitting your diagnostic tool for Big Potential Breakthrough was midday on Friday 30th June.

The final deadline for submitting your full application is midday on Friday 15th September.

Big Potential Breakthrough is suited for VCSE organisations based and operating in England on the beginning of a journey towards securing investment, who are looking to develop a more sustainable funding model and be less dependent on grants but require support to do this. Applicants are expected to have existing products or services that could support taking on repayable finance.  

They 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 Breakthrough 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 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 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 final deadline for submitting your application was midday on Wednesday 9th August. This fund is now closed.**

Big Potential Advanced was available to VCSEs based and operating in England that were clear about how social investment could work for them and could describe a potential deal or interest from investors and needed help to close that deal. The Advanced route was also available to organisations that need help securing a contract of at least £1m.

Grants of between £50,000 and £150,000 were available.