Contract readiness

NCVO offers support to voluntary organisations looking to have the internal systems and processes in place to support bidding for public service contracts.

For organisations considering contracting

We have a wealth of information in the commissioning section of NCVO Knowhow Nonprofit. This covers all aspects of the commissioning cycle and contracting – from deciding whether or not to bid through to writing successful pre-qualification questionnaires and tenders, and forming consortia. It also explains some of the technical aspects of commissioning in detail, for example the law covering TUPE.

For larger organisations

NCVO is an approved provider for Big Potential.

Big Potential (Advanced Route) offers grants of up to £150,000 that enable voluntary organisations to build their capacity to bid for and win contracts above £1m.

NCVO can support your organisation with the initial diagnostic process, work with you to prepare your grant application, and then to prepare to bid for the contract.

What is Big Potential?

Big Potential Logo PINK

Big Lottery Fund’s £20m fund is aimed at eligible voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VSCEs) to improve their sustainability, capacity and scale, and help them deliver greater social impact for communities across England.

There are two strands to the Big Potential programme: Big Potential Breakthrough aimed at VCSEs looking to raise up to £500,000 of investment, and Big Potential Advanced aimed at VCSEs looking to raise over £500,000 of investment or over £1m in contracts.

Big Potential is administered by the Social Investment Business on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Locality, Social Enterprise UK, Charity Bank and the University of Northampton.

A grant from the fund will help VCSEs at the very beginning of their social investment journey to get specialist and tailored support to become investment ready.

What does the Big Potential programme offer?

Big Potential offers VCSE organisations the chance to consider the usefulness of social investment as part of their broader financing or fundraising strategy.

Organisations have access to the Big Potential website with fantastic learning and development content, and in-depth information on social investment including case studies, guides and a fully automated diagnostic tool which is a helpful companion to any VCSE organisation starting out with social investment.

Interested organisations can book a place at one of 17 regional events. The events will be held in collaboration with regional and local partners in venues across England. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about social investment and find out if it’s right for your organisation.

Book a place now.

Applying for a Big Potential Breakthrough grant

  1. Register on The Big Potential website 
  2. Complete the online diagnostic tool
  3. Receive a 1:1 advice session with an expert advisor
  4. If successful, choose a support provider (e.g. NCVO) to help you with your grant application

Help from NCVO

We can help at all stages of the process. Please contact our public services team on 020 7520 2411 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

NCVO is also an approved provider for Big Potential (Breakthrough Route), meaning that we can support organisations interested in attracting social investment up to £500,000 through a Big Potential grant of £20,000-70,000.

Related resources

Funding Central lists thousands of funding and finance opportunities for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. 

Achieving sustainable funding

All about commissioning


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