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Lottery Funding

Hundreds of thousands of projects have benefited from National Lottery funding since its launch in 1994. More than £41 billion has been raised for good causes across the UK, with lottery grants awarded to all corners of the country in a number of different sectors. Learn more about the National Lottery’s Good Causes Fund and how it gets distributed.


The amount of revenue that goes back to winners and society

£30 million

Raised for Good Causes per week (on average)


Projects to have benefited from National Lottery funding

£2.2 billion

The biggest single donation - used to help fund London 2012

Where The Money Goes

When you buy a ticket for any National Lottery game - Lotto, EuroMillions, Thunderball, Set For Life, Lotto HotPicks, EuroMillions HotPicks or an instant game - the money you spend is split several ways. The majority is used to pay prizes, while operating costs, retailer commissions and Lottery Duty to the Government also need to be paid.

However, the main purpose of the lottery is to fund charitable projects and non-profit organisations around the UK, so a portion always goes to the Good Causes Fund. The distribution of revenue is slightly different for scratchcards, but overall the Good Causes Fund receives just under a third of the revenue from National Lottery games. From there, it gets distributed to charitable projects across the UK in four broad fields.

The National Lottery Distribution Fund divides the funds as follows:

  • Community (including health, education, environment and charitable causes) - 40%
  • Arts - 20%
  • Heritage - 20%
  • Sports – 20%

There are 12 independent distributing bodies working across the four different fields. These bodies have been selected by Parliament based on their expertise and are listed below. They are in charge of deciding whether projects that apply should receive any funding.

The distributing bodies are:

  • Community: The National Lottery Community Fund
  • Arts: Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, British Film Institute, Creative Scotland
  • Heritage: The National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • Sport: Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland, sportscotland, Sport Wales, UK Sport

Anyone can apply for lottery funding, but to receive a grant you must demonstrate how people in a particular area would benefit. You should outline what your organisation does and state how much money you need. The distribution bodies will consider applications for as little as £100 or more than £100,000.

Lottery-Funded Projects

The National Lottery has funded more than half a million projects since it was established, supporting small community schemes and large national ventures such as the London Olympics in 2012. Here are a few examples of organisations that have received lottery funding.


The Breast Cancer Care app (BECCA) provides support to people after they finish their treatment for breast cancer. Thanks to lottery funding, the app is able to deliver vital information and care to those who have fought the disease and may have been left with side effects or anxieties. The hints and tips are wide-ranging and comprehensive, based on the experiences of others who have had breast cancer.


Bravehound is an organisation which matches Armed Forces veterans with dogs. It was launched to help those people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as they return to civilian life, and can point to National Lottery funding for making a huge difference to lots of lives. One veteran, who had previously tried to commit suicide three times, said: “I wouldn't be here without my dog, I'd never leave him.”

The Man Engine

Utilising funds from the National Lottery, the largest mechanical puppet ever to be built in Britain was designed and constructed to celebrate the Cornish Mining Landscape's World Heritage status. Known as the Man Engine, the movable structure is 11.2m tall and 'transforms' when enough people are gathered to sing to him. The project ran an educational programme featuring an initial 30 school workshops, before the Man Engine set off to tour other parts of the country.

World Class Sport

National Lottery funding has helped to transform the fortunes of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at recent Olympic Games. UK Sport's World Class Programme is a scheme which has helped over 1,000 athletes to get access to top-level coaches, support and ground-breaking technology. One of those athletes is Dame Sarah Storey, who says she might not otherwise have been able to train full-time since she started out in 1997 without the scheme. Storey is now the most decorated British Paralympian in history.

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo’s Wildlife Connections scheme is focused on getting as many people involved in conservation as possible, and has been backed by the National Lottery in its efforts to train 80 community group leaders. These 'Wildlife Champions' will then be able to take the skills and knowledge they learn with them back into the wider world to help create safe spaces for endangered species to flourish.

Unclaimed Prizes that go to Good Causes

The Good Causes Fund also benefits from prizes, and the interest accrued on them, that remain unclaimed 180 days after the winning draw. Millions of pounds worth of unclaimed National Lottery prizes build up each year, which are then transferred to the Good Causes Fund in their entirety if they are not claimed in time.

In addition, the Good Causes Fund also receives some of the interest accrued from prizes before they are claimed. This interest is first used to fund trustee fees, audit fees, bank charges and tax, before the remainder is given to Good Causes. Prizes are held in trust before they are paid out so they are separate from Allwyn's bank accounts, with PricewaterhouseCoopers conducting audits every month.

Health Lottery Good Causes

The Health Lottery gives 25.5p from every £1 spent on tickets to good causes. This money is distributed to each of the 12 society lotteries which come together to offer the game, and individual projects in each region receive funding. The society lotteries work in rotation, so a different one benefits each month.

All of the projects that receive Health Lottery funding are health-related. They are dedicated to helping the most vulnerable people in society, tackling problems such as loneliness, Alzheimer’s and mental health. As well as working with non-profit organisations in local communities, the Health Lottery has also supported national charities such as Mencap and Dementia UK.

Health Lottery players have helped to raise more than £110 million for good causes and support more than 3,000 projects since 2011.