Find the funds

A sustainable fundraising strategy or plan can help you to work out what your organisation needs money for, how much and for how long. Once the strategy is agreed, the next step is to find likely funders and other sources of income.

Remember your local county voluntary council (CVC) or WCVA's Help Desk can help you to find the best funders for your project.

Choosing the right fundraising activity

There is no single solution to fundraising. One fundraising activity may prove successful for one organisation but not so for another. When preparing a sustainable fundraising strategy or plan, try to include a diverse range of fundraising activities, some, which will deliver funds in the short-term, such as an event or competition, and others that are more long-term, for instance a capital appeal.

Think carefully about available resources, including staff and volunteers' time, skills and expenses. Remember that some activities may take longer to plan than others. Fundraisers will need to select the most appropriate method and sources of income. The "Income Spectrum" devised by NCVO's Sustainable funding project team, illustrates the main income streams available to the Third sector and the differing funding relationships.

NCVO's Income Spectrum

The crucial factor in developing a sustainable funding approach is to diversify (or spread) the sources of your income, so if a single source is taken away, you have other sources that you can rely on. Without doubt, some kinds of income are more stable and longer-term than others. Having a diverse range of shorter and longer-term income streams enables you to plan and make more effective use of what you have.

Income diversification involves changing the number or type of income streams. For instance, establishing a new trading activity to supplement an income that comes mainly from grants. Equally, it maybe possible to diversify options within one type of income. Trading, for example, might currently involve hiring out office space to partner organisations but opportunities may also exist for setting up a new training consultancy or exploiting ICT skills within the orgainsation.

The wide range of income options open to the Third sector is illustrated in the Income Spectrum - ranging from donations to trading. On the left, gift economy and grant funding are forms of 'asking'. On the right, there is 'earning' through the structured and open markets. As we move from left to right, the level of expectation regarding what is received in return for the income increases.

These different income types are suitable for different fundraising activity, are accessed and managed in different ways, and involve different relationships with the donor, funder, purchaser or customer.

Gift economy

  • Income generated from giving and public fundraising.
  • This income is usually unrestricted and can be used at an organisation's discretion to further their aims.

Grant funding

  • Income provided to deliver specific outputs and outcomes (usually mutually agreed).
  • This income is usually restricted to be spent on achieving these outputs and outcomes.
  • Grant funders usually want to monitor the way that this funding is spent and have clear expectations on what should be achieved.

Structured market

  • Payment for goods or services delivered under the terms of acontract or service level agreement between an organisation and a third party purchaser.
  • This party can be from the public, private or voluntary sector.
  • The majority of voluntary organisations however tend to deliver contracts for the public sector.

Open market

  • This is concerned with trading.
  • The ranges of goods or services that are bought and sold daily are endless. Many third sector organisations are now embarking upon this route.
  • Trading generates unrestricted income and there are different types of trading.
  • Some organisations trade to solely generate profit but others to trade to procure a profit whilst furthering their aims and objections.

The Income Spectrum, a tool developed by NCVO's Sustainable funding project team, has been reproduced with their kind permission.

Funding sources

It is worth spending some time identifying potential sources of funding. These include:

  • Statutory funding - Welsh Assembly Government, local authorities, European funds, health funding, area based initiatives e.g. Communities First
  • Big Lottery Fund
  • Charitable trusts and foundations
  • Companies - sponsorship, payroll giving, employee volunteering
  • Giving and public fundraising
  • European funding
  • Legacies
  • Community and events
  • Internet / website
  • Trading - rental of space, training fees, charges for services, charity shops, sale of goods
  • Loan finance
  • Asset-based development
  • Membership subscriptions
  • Donations and gifts
  • Tax effective giving - gift aid, payroll giving
  • WCVA grant schemes

WCVA information sheets  providing guidance and further sources of information on each of these funding streams are available by visiting the Help section on the website.