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Here are some answers to frequently asked questions we hear about the Lightning Reach portal and working with us:


How can I be involved?


If you are an organisation providing grants or hardship schemes you can accept applications directly through the Lightning Reach portal to speed up the process of administering support. Find out more here (link to support partners page)


If you are a referral / support agency, you can signpost your clients for free to create a profile on the portal to find and apply for support they may be eligible for. Find out more (link to portal page)


Is there a cost to use the portal?


The portal will always be free for individuals to use to find and apply support available to them, and is free to signpost people to. 


For organisations wishing to use the portal to accept applications through the portal or to get referrals, a monthly subscription fee will apply which is tiered depending on the size of your organisation and what functionality you need. 


Typically, costs start from £200 per month for smaller organisations and increase for larger organisations, depending on the modules you select and the volume of applications you are expecting. 


Is there the option for a trial?


Yes, we can offer zero commitment trials of 6-12 months so you can try using the portal and see what benefits it brings to your organisation. Please contact us to find out more.


How complex and time consuming is it to set up?


This can vary depending on your organisation’s needs, including module choices and bespoke questions and functionality required. For simple support schemes, it could only take a couple of days to get you on the portal, but for most organisations from our experience it takes a couple of weeks. 


This process includes confirming your eligibility criteria and any supporting evidence or bespoke questions you require, and testing the process in a demo environment before making your grant / scheme live. 


If you wish to discuss your needs and any timelines you are keen to meet, please get in touch.


How can a single application form work when each organisation has different qualifying/eligibility criteria?


We appreciate there’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to support, and that each organisation has different information and evidence they need to collect to process an application. 


We have created a list of simple profile questions every new user needs to complete in order to be matched to support on the portal initially. These core questions have been developed in collaboration with the sector through our Social Innovation Council to incorporate the most common questions asked at the initial application stage. We are continually iterating these to ensure that these capture the most relevant information to enable personalised matches to support available. 


When someone matches to your grant or support scheme and wishes to apply, we can then set up any bespoke questions that you need to ask them or request they upload any requested documents/evidence to the portal at this stage. 


How customisable is the portal?


The portal has a modular structure, meaning it is extremely customisable to meet your organisation’s needs. 


You are able to pick and choose which of our available modules you wish to include within your package, including modules such as open banking, family bank accounts, ID verification, bespoke questions, and more.


Can you integrate with our existing CRM / database?


We provide integration into existing systems though APIs enabling you to import data from the portal into your existing CRM / database. Information can also be downloaded as a pdf which can then be attached to an individual’s record within your CRM / database. 


How is Lightning Reach different from the Turn2us Grants Search?


The Lightning Reach portal matches individuals to a holistic range of support from across the ecosystem, featuring over 1,500 support schemes from across charitable grants, local authority schemes, social tariffs and more. 


Where Turn2us shows people grants they can apply for and redirects them to a charity’s website to apply, individuals can also continue to submit their full application directly through the Lightning Reach portal. We also feature a benefits calculator as part of the user’s journey when using the portal, so they do not need to re-fill out questions already answered and complete this separately. 


We currently signpost to the Turn2us grant search via the portal once an individual has completed their profile to ensure they have access to the widest range of support possible.


What are you doing to enable people with limited digital access or skills to use the Lightning Reach portal? 


Currently the portal is open for individuals to apply directly, but they can be helped through the process by a support worker or family member. We also have an in built help function so someone can message a member of the Lightning Reach team for support (9am-5pm Monday-Friday).


We have also tried to make the portal as easy to use as possible, and it was designed with users in mind, and iterated with feedback through extensive user testing. It can also be used on any commonly used online device, including mobile phones and tablets.


We are currently piloting the functionality to enable support organisations to apply on behalf of clients, and are working closely with a range of local authorities, charities and housing associations to do this. We plan to launch this functionality later in 2023. 


How secure is the Lightning Reach portal, and are you GDPR compliant?


We take security very seriously and follow strict protocols to keep data safe. We have data sharing agreements in place with all of our partners, and will only share an applicant’s information with the organisation that they are applying to, which the applicant will be prompted to consent to when completing their application through the portal. 


We work with reputable providers, including Plaid, an FCA-regulated provider for open banking, and Onfido, for ID verification. 


We also conduct regular penetration testing to ensure data is kept secure, and are Cyber Essentials Certified.

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