National Lottery Community Fund
Evaluation Tool
Create a sub-brand and evaluation tool for Co-operatives UK's Community Shares service.

Delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society, the Local Sustainability Fund aimed to help medium sized voluntary, community and social enterprises organisations to secure a more sustainable way of working by providing funding and support to help them review and transform their operating models.

£20m was provided for the fund by the Office for Civil Society. Applications were to happen in a limited time window, and high demand was expected. The National Lottery Community Fund (then called Big Lottery) wished to perform an automatic business evaluation on all applying organisations, which would enable them to create a shortlist for detailed human evaluation. They also wished to manage awardees for the lifetime of the grant and perform a second evaluation at the end of the funding period, in order to quantify the benefits that funding had had on the organisation.

The website would be active in 2 phases – the first, for a few months, would see a large number of applications and high traffic due to a publicity campaign. The second phase would be for ongoing evaluation and usage by grant awardees during the lifetime of the grant. The following features were built:

  • A full brand identity for the website
  • An online eligibility check
  • An online business evaluation diagnostic, delivered in several section
  • A report on the calculated results of the diagnostic, also downloadable as a PDF
  • A “red, amber, green” shortlisting system for applications
  • Custom management reports by region and category
  • Grant management platform including monitoring form
  • Follow-up business evaluation and comparison report

When the VCSE Diagnostic website went online it immediately handled a large volume of applications, allowing Lottery staff to focus their efforts on the most appropriate organisations, so that instead of tens of thousands of businesses, they only had to go into depth on a couple of hundred. This resulted in a large saving of time and money.

Organisations found the evaluation system easy to understand, and found the resulting reports beneficial to their understanding of their own business. For this reason, it was decided that after the funding period was over, the evaluation diagnostic tool would be built out as a separate, stand-alone website that businesses can use for free: the VCSE Strength Checker.

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