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Sustainable funding

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What does sustainable funding mean?

In order for your voluntary organisation to survive, thrive and prepare for the future you need to have sustainable funding. By this we mean that you are able to secure and generate reliable streams of income that enable your organisation to deliver its purpose in the short and longer term.

Generating income for your organisation can seem daunting, but if you take a rounded, planned approach with sustainable funding as your ultimate aim you will have a greater chance of ensuring the financial viability of your organisation.

The key to this is to develop a mix of funding in two ways:

  1. Bring in income from multiple sources. This means that you use a range of fundraising or income generating methods and are not entirely dependent on one source of income.
  2. Develop sources of unrestricted income (not just restricted income).

Restricted income means that conditions have been imposed on the income which limits the ways that you can spend it. Most grants and some donations are restricted income; they have been provided for a specific purpose and that money can only be used for that purpose.

Unrestricted income is free from any conditions and you can use it for anything that helps you meet your charitable purpose(s), on activities of your choice. Importantly, unrestricted income is often needed to cover the day to day costs of running your organisation. This could be to make improvements to any buildings you own, to cover salary costs not covered by grant funding or to invest in your income streams to grow them further.  

Diverse income streams

Fundraising covers many things from sponsored events and charitable donations through to writing funding applications, charitable trusts and trading. You should aim to make use of a range of fundraising options to create diverse income streams for your organisation.

Every type of income generation you do will fall somewhere on the below table, no matter how big or small the activity. 

A PDF version of this table is available here