The National Lottery Good Causes Awards are open!

When we talk about the National Lottery (aka, The Lotto!), we are consumed with lofty notions of winning the jackpot and the wonderful gifts we will bestow upon ourselves.

We think about treating our family (maybe), or buying an apartment somewhere in Sicily (No? Just me?). Perhaps the more financially shrewd among us consider the best way to invest it. But when we don’t win that jackpot, we seem to consider it the end of the story.

How many of us are aware of where our money goes when we play? Yes, we have seen a few of the ads on TV about funds going to good causes in our communities, but what does that really mean?

Following the recent launch of the Good Causes Awards 2023, we caught up with Jennifer Crowe, CSR & Good Causes Relationship Manager with The National Lottery to find out.

Good Causes from the National Lottery

National Lottery CEO Andrew Algeo, Derek Duffy, Founder of Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes, Minister Pascal Donohue and Marty Whelan

Good Causes from The National Lottery was set up 36 years ago to fund community projects across the country. Everything from heritage organisations, arts groups, sports centres, youth or community groups are beneficiaries of the Good Causes scheme.

But what we found staggering, were the numbers. Over €4 million Euro goes to these local initiatives and groups every week! That’s a phenomenal amount of funds for local initiatives.

But apart from the funding element, every year, the National Lottery asks their network of communities to enter the Good Causes Awards, so that they can be recognised for the work that they do. The awards were set up 5 years ago and have already garnered huge interest from the public. And with a prize fund of €135K going to the winner, it’s no surprise that applications are growing steadily every year.

Last Years winners – Lough Grainey Nature Sanctuary

Lough Grainey Team with National Lottery CEO Andrew Algeo

Marina Levitina, Chairperson of Lough Grainey Nature Sanctuary, spoke to us about what the award meant for her and her team at the not-for-profit community organisation dedicated to creating and maintaining a nature sanctuary in the Lough Grainey Valley in Co. Clare.

Lough Grainey Nature Sanctuary

Founded in 2019, the aim of the sanctuary is to protect biodiversity and promote the rewilding and restoration of the ancient oak forest. There are rare and endangered plants growing here (like the Blue-eyed grass), so the protection of this important landscape and it’s natural biodiversity is essential.

Sisyrinchium bermudiana growing at Lough Grainey.

Marina told us about Forest School at Lough Grainey, an initiative that brings school children to the reserve to learn about the natural habitat of wildlife, birds and other elusive creatures!
Through their own campaign efforts, they purchased 28 acres of land in 2021 and plan to further expand the Nature Sanctuary.

The prize fund from the Good Causes initiative allowed them to purchase their ‘NatureCam’ – webcam equipment used in the reserve to capture footage of foxes, stoats, deer and the very elusive, rarely seen – pine marten!

The Good Causes Awards

Previous winners Alan Broderick and Lough Ree Lanesboro Angling Hub

Since the Awards began back in 2018, almost 2,000 Good Cause beneficiaries from Sport, Arts, Heritage, Community, Health, Youth & Irish Language have applied to the awards and the National Lottery have celebrated 143 national finalists.

If this funding is what keeps local community clubs alive, the Good Causes Awards are a way of sharing stories of impact, generosity, determination and optimism that benefit our communities across Ireland.

Now receiving applications  – but you must be quick!

Jennifer is keen for as many organisations as possible get a chance to share in the prize money and urges organisations to get involved and submit an application. You are eligible if you, your organisation, project or club has received funding through National Lottery part-funded schemes between 2018-2022.

Jennifer tells us that is likely that even if you don’t realise it, chances are, your organisation has received funding from Good Causes.

But if you are still not sure, you can find out by simply typing in the name of your group, club or organisation in the link below. Applications for this year’s event are now open, but closing at 5.00pm on Friday 31st March, so get your application in quickly!

Go to The National Lottery Good Causes Awards to check your eligibility and enter online.

Just like playing the National Lottery – if you’re not in, you can’t win!

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