A public consultation into the future of the National Lottery’s ‘Good Causes’ fund has been launched, amid the “frustration” felt by many charities regarding the difficulties they face when attempting to access this funding.
The options on the table include a new governance system to oversee how this funding is allocated or creating an “open call” through which any charity can apply for funding, such as what’s used in Britain.
Last year, €289m was transferred from the National Lottery Fund to the Exchequer with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath remarking it was “absolutely critical” that members of the public and those who buy lotto tickets are “fully aware of how this funding is accessed and distributed to Good Causes”.
Under the licence agreement between the Government and Premier Lotteries Ireland, which operates the Lotto, 30c in every €1 spent on the lottery is returned to the Exchequer to be used for these Good Causes projects.
This money can be spent for a number of different purposes, including sports and recreation, the arts, and national culture and heritage.
Under the most recent allocations, €150m was given to almost 1,900 applicants across 30 sports and activities in Ireland. However, the amount spent through these funds usually exceeds the amount raised by the National Lottery, with the State funding the rest.
In launching the consultation, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said it had a number of issues it wanted to address.
It said that the link between funds raised by buying lotto tickets and how that benefits these ‘Good Causes’ “is not as strong as it might be”.
This may come from a “lack of clarity” regarding how this funding is allocated and utilised and may “ultimately lead to a decline in the particular selling point of the Lottery”.
The department added: “Organisations in the not-for-profit sector have communicated their frustration regarding the difficulties they face when attempting to access Good Causes funding.
Furthermore, it said that there is no defined process to govern how funding can be allocated to new and emerging Good Causes projects.
The public consultation document delves into the systems of allocating funds used in Britain, Finland, and New Zealand. The department said that as well as being transparent in about how these funds are distributed, as well as a measurement for the impact of this funding.
Announcing the consultation, Mr McGrath said the National Lottery “plays an important role in generating funds for Good Causes throughout Ireland”.
“It is important that the allocation of this funding is done in a way that can best benefit local communities,” he added.