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BIG blogs about Better by Design: a new approach to funding

Better by Design marks a new direction for the Big Lottery Fund.  Instead of a funding programme, this is a supported process which asks for a strong commitment from the 15 participating organisations.  Each one is being offered free, intensive, expert and bespoke support to take part in service redesign of their work.  BLF ScotlandIt’s about encouraging them to think proactively about what they do, what difference they make and how this can be maximised to ensure they are as effective as possible.  To do this we are working in partnership with The Young Foundation and Taylor Haig which together bring a range of expertise in this area.

Better by Design was developed in response to consultation with voluntary and third sector organisations. We know that the landscape for third sector organisations is changing and that many are now facing increased demand for services and a more competitive funding environment. There is also heightened pressure on organisations to demonstrate their impact in terms of outcomes rather than services. This means that many organisations are now required to change the way they work and this can be both daunting and difficult.  We want to support third sector organisations through this process of change and to help them to be better able to sustain themselves in light of the changing context in which they operate.

Because of the bespoke nature of the support being offered we do not know what the specific changes will be for each organisation.  They might develop a new product or service or change their business model.  They might forge a new partnership or change the way they are governed.  Ultimately they will undergo a change which will help the organisation to become more sustainable, in the widest sense of the word, and to better meet the needs of its beneficiaries.  For us, this flexibility is one of the most exciting aspects of the programme.

Although we hope that this process of change will be embedded within all levels of the organisations, we do not want the impact to be restricted to them.  Instead it is important for us that other organisations are able to benefit too.  Throughout the process there will be a number of wider networking events where people can share stories and experiences.  We are also looking to develop a toolkit for wider dissemination.

Through Better by Design we are also working closely with Dr Cathy Sharp at Research for Real and Jo Kennedy from Animate.  They are helping us to evaluate this method of intervention and the tools being used so that we can learn from it.  In our mind this is as important an outcome as encouraging increased sustainability in the sector because it will ensure that we continue to use our funding as effectively as possible.

We are now coming to the end of the first year and the process is really beginning to pick up pace.  We are looking forward to following the 15 organisations as they enter the next phase and seeing what emerges.  Service design is not new as a methodology for change but it is new to us and so we will continue to use the ongoing learning to help communities in need.

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