We spoke with our Support Partner the RAF Benevolent Fund about their experiences using the
Lightning Reach portal. The RAF Benevolent Fund started to use the portal in summer 2022 to administer their grants to help their service users access support available from their charity quickly and easily.
Tell us about your charity and who you support
For more than 100 years, the RAF Benevolent Fund has been supporting members of our RAF Family. We provide lifelong support to serving and ex-serving RAF personnel and their families. We'll consider any request for assistance, however big or small, providing a tailor-made approach to each individual situation. From mobility aids and confidential counselling to financial grants, we offer a range of financial and non-financial support tailored to the individual's needs.
What was your grant application process like before using Lightning Reach, and what were any challenges you experienced processing applications for support?
We receive the majority of our applications via our case management system, Mosaic, used by the military charity sector. These are staffed applications sent to us through caseworkers. Prior to working with Lightning Reach, we also received direct applications from individuals in need through an online application form.
We have had technical issues with this application form, such as applicants were unable to save and return to an application. We were also unable to access the data of unsubmitted applications, so had no idea what the drop off rate was. With this form we were receiving around 4-5% of our applications, now that we are using Lightning Reach this is more like 10%.
How did you find out about Lightning Reach? What parts of Lightning Reach’s portal appealed to you most and got you interested in using the portal and working with us?
A member of staff attended a demonstration of the portal Lightning Reach ran in collaboration with the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO) in March 2022.
We were interested in the Lightning Reach portal due to having issues with the then current online application form on our website, and having the options of Open Banking and ID checking appealed to us. We also saw the potential of reaching a new co-hort of beneficiaries due to partnerships with referring organisations.
How have you found the process of working with Lightning Reach and getting added to the portal?
The process has been smooth in all our interactions with Lightning Reach. Their response to queries and changes have been made in a timely manner when needed.
What have been the main benefits for you and your organisation of using the portal and what impact has it had so far?
The main benefits we have seen so far are an increase in direct applications from new and younger beneficiaries. This has suggested we may be getting a better reach than we were previously.
Open Banking is also great when it is consented to and when applicants use it, as we often have issues in getting proof of income for applications. We are currently working on an API and once this is set up we should see a huge time saving benefit from the portal too.
What would you say to organisations who are thinking about using the portal?
It is an excellent tool and access to new beneficiaries is great. The possibility of ‘applying on behalf of’ and joint funding in future will be highly beneficial.
In retrospect, we could have planned what we wanted/needed from our application better, so we would say to any organisation considering using the portal that they should think carefully about what information they will need to make a grant decision. Organisations should also be aware of possible spikes in demand that may be out of their control (other organisations with similar beneficiary pools advertising/reaching out), however, there is the possibility to ‘turn off’ applications on the portal if needed.
If you are interested in discussing how the Lightning Reach portal could support your organisation in streamlining and accelerating the delivery of financial support to your service users, while reaching a wider range of potential clients to access support from your organisation quickly and easily, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org