There is no reason why all decisions pertaining to allocation should be taken at a head office level. In the UK, the allocation process has been decentralised. Decisions regarding smaller applications are taken by regional staff, and it is only once applications cross a certain threshold that the central office has to play a role. Appropriate accounting procedures ensure that the regional offices act within the parameters of the law and respect budgetary limitations, whilst modern computer technology ensures that the decentralisation process does not entail an unnecessary duplication of administrative personnel and resources.
In order to do this effectively, it is necessary to make a greater distinguish between the roles of the Lotteries Board and the Distributions Agencies. If the former acts as a regulator, and oversees the operations of a number of independent Distribution Agencies—as the Act appears to imply, and as is the case in the UK—then it will be far easier to disburse funds in an efficient and informed manner. This will allow the various Distribution Agencies to utilise the experience of local and provincial organisations, including established grant makers, without surrendering their own autonomy.
By contrast, in South Africa the Central Distribution Agency is, to all effects and purposes, part of the Lotteries Board. In addition to the fact that this may well be in violation of the Lotteries Act (57 of 1997), it is also an obstacle to the efficient operation of the Agencies. Until the Agencies are able to operate at arms length from the Lotteries Board, and from parliament, it is unlikely that they will ever develop the hands on expertise and the capacity to take independent decisions needed for the Lottery to succeed in its objective of providing reliable, sustainable, funding for the non profit sector.