The Heritage Lottery Fund Catalyst Programme originally formed part of a broader partnership initiative between HLF, Department of Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council England. It aimed to encourage more private giving to culture and heritage, and to build the capacity and skills of cultural and heritage organisations to fundraise from private donors, corporate sources, trusts and foundations.

The Catalyst Umbrella Programme originally provided £3.3million support for umbrella bodies providing support services for heritage organisations. Nine UK umbrella organisations were awarded funding in 2014:

Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) was originally awarded £246,000 under the HLF Catalyst Umbrella Programme. A further grant of £115,000 has been awarded to NIEL to extend the Catalyst programme until Spring 2018.

Catalyst: Umbrella grants and Catalyst: Small grants were developed to support organisations to undertake a range of capacity building activities in order to improve their ability to fundraise and diversify their income. Commissioned in July 2014, the programme evaluation seeks to develop a greater understanding of the impact of Catalyst funding, as well as support HLF’s discussions with policy makers and stakeholders and also to contribute to the wider body of knowledge relating to private giving to heritage.

The Baseline Report, produced in March 2015, details the first phase of evaluation work undertaken between August 2014 and February 2015. The report gives an overview of the Umbrella programme including the aims of the projects, delivery arrangements and lessons learned to date. The report is available here.