Building a funding strategy: how to economise and budget for success


The funding landscape is is changing fast. Here to keep you up to date and give expert advice is Corinna Hartwig – otherwise known as the Funding Dr. In the latest in our series of funding workshops, Corinna takes us through building a funding strategy – how to economise and budget for success.

Watch the workshop recording to get to know your capital costs from your revenue costs and come away ready to make the three B rule work for you.

Watch the Workshop Here
Get the Slides Here

Some top tips from previous workshops with the Funding Dr:

  • Remember what you and the funder have in common: You want to do good (because that will make you feel good which will make you look good)
  • Remember that funders far from the frontline need you to help them to do good at a grassroots level. So, let them know how your project alleviates hardship and brings about the change necessary to alleviate the societal challenges that we face
  • Look for the funders with the same strategic interest areas as you – whether that’s food action, environment, health and wellbeing, employment, digital divide, or equality and rights.
  • Look up the outcome pyramid and use this tool to help you to differentiate between your outcomes and your objectives. Funders tend to fund outcomes rather than activities.
  • Communications and marketing are key. Embrace digital. It’s not going to go away.
  • Keep an eye on the main factors influencing the current funding environment:
    • Covid-19
    • Economic recession
    • Digital shift
    • High need – funding is a more sought after than ever
    • High innovation across community organisations and funders – be creative!

How to write a budget

  1. Brainstorm as a team to figure out what you need to pull off your project. Be daring in this first step. Come together with your team and use a white board (either in person or online using software like zoom white board or jam boards or google sheets)
  2. Write up all the costs relating to your project: staff time and training, travel, internet connection, venues (online or offline), digital marketing, printing, advertising, recruitment
  3. Group your costs:
    1. Capital costs – one off, major costs (long lasting equipment purchases like a vehicle or a building down payment)
    2. Revenue costs – running costs of your project (like wages, national insurance, pension contributions, volunteer recruitment costs, electrics, maintenance, printing, promotional materials, consumables, PPE)
  4. The simplest and quickest funding tool is the red pen. Use your red pen to cross off all luxuries. And all your nice to haves.
  5. Now use the 3 B rule – beg, borrow or barter to cross off more costly items from your costing sheet. Think about borrowing from the Library of Things or paying in kind to businesses

Points to remember:

  • There are always more things that you want to do than there is money and resources to do them. So focus your efforts.
  • You don’t want to spend time finding replacement funding to continue existing projects. Cover yourself by establishing a short term funding strategy as well as a long term funding strategy.
  • Always think ahead about your communications strategy and impact assessment plans. These will help you to plan for and win future funding.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Include a good funding mix in your strategy. This should include funding from across the funding spectrum. The four traditional pillars of fundraising are: donations and grants which require you to ask for money and contracts and sales which require you to earn money. Beyond these 4 traditional fundraising pillars there are other areas of fundraising – crowdfunding, loans (useful for innovation costs or buying community assets) and community shares.

The sustainable income spectrum:

Try out some strategizing activities:

  1. Create a budget on a shoestring – consider an upcoming project and write up your dream cost list. Now use the all-important red pen to cross out the luxuries. And then the 3 Bs to cross out further costs.
  2. Develop a simple funding strategy using the sustainable income spectrum outlined above. What percentage of your project cost will you look to access in which areas?

An example of a fundraising strategy summary

Further support

  • Have a look at the institute for fundraising on youtube. They have great 5 minute videos including one on how to build a strategy and another on how to write up a fundraising schedule – here
  • Check out Corinna’s workshop on how to attract funding here
  • Check out Corinna’s workshop on where to access funding here

Semble brings businesses and community projects together to make change happen from the grassroots up. We run funding campaigns in partnership with organisations that want to make a positive impact in communities across the UK.

Corinna Hartwig runs Corinna Hartwig Consulting – supporting business start-ups. And, known as the “Funding Doctor” she helps community groups find funding faster (websites currently under construction). Corinna has personal, practical experience with developing funding strategies, researching funding opportunities, implementing and managing community projects, both as a volunteer and as a consultant working with a range of community organisations at grass roots level. Get in touch to see how she can support your project one-to-one.

Check out our other webinar resources about sustainable funding for community groups and supporting communities digitally using Zoom. Search our list of funding opportunities for community groups. To be the first to know about these as well as funding opportunities, sign up to the Semble network.

To be the first to know about events, funding opportunities and more sign up to our mailing list here.

About the Author:

Lorna’s all about purpose led comms. She champions the power of connection. When she’s not talking, writing and recording at her desk she’s making pottery or has her nose in a book.