Where to Access Funding: A deep dive into your income stream options


As we ease out of lockdown and into a recession, the funding landscape 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 Where to Access Funding, as well as the four main pillars of the sustainable funding spectrum plus some additional pillars for extra support.

Watch the workshop recording to learn why you might want to access shares or loans and why spreading the word is such an important part of the fundraising journey.

Watch the Workshop Here
Get the Slides Here

Some updates on the current funding environment:

  • Covid-19 is still heavily influencing the funding environment with an increased focus on food action and health and wellbeing as well as the digital divide.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement has propelled BAME related issues to the top of the funding agenda with many more BAME oriented grants available.
  • With the UK now officially in a recession, funders are adapting programmes to meet shifting needs so be sure to keep checking on funding opportunity updates.
  • As a result of social distancing, the majority of fundraising has now gone online. With cashless donations the ‘new normal’ it’s time to embrace digital.

The sustainable income spectrum:

There are four main pillars in the sustainable income spectrum and more besides. Rule number one: don’t depend on just one income stream (aka don’t put all your eggs in one basket).

These four pillars cover the main types of fundraising – from the donations and grants which require you to ask for money to contracts and sales which require you to earn money. 

Pillar One – Donations 

The first pillar of the funding spectrum is donations aka the gift economy. A donation is a gift given by a donor without expectation of anything in return. Previously donated funding would have been given in cash or cheques. Now donations have gone digital so don’t forget to put a donation button on your website and across your social media. 

To help you with the online donation process, try setting up an account with an organisation like: Justgiving, Pennies or CAF donate. And don’t forget to claim Gift Aid (this will increase all donations by 25% and won’t cost you a thing.

Be creative with this funding pillar. Try reaching out to the CSR (corporate social responsibility) departments in local businesses. And hold fun-runs, gigs or bake sales to encourage donations.

Pillar Two – Grants

The second pillar of the funding spectrum is grant funding. To win grant funding you’ll need to fulfill a set of criteria and fill in forms to show why your project deserves the grant. If successful, the money you win will have to be spent exactly in accordance with the budget you set out in your application and you’ll need to regularly check in with the funder to report back on impact. A few top tips for this type of funding:

  • Grants are highly competitive and many are oversubscribed. Looking for the right funding takes time and skill so make sure you have both available. 
  • Before applying, always read the guidance notes and pick up the phone to talk with the funder
  • To win a grant your aims will need to be aligned with the aims of the funder (see our previous workshop on how to attract funding for more on this)
  • Try running a pilot project before applying to show the need and prove your capability in meeting it
  • The more money you’re applying for, the more thorough the application process will be
  • Many funders now offer specialist support, bootcamps and training rather than cash. For those who still provide cash, most will offer match funding so it’s important that you think about generating income from the other funding pillars.

Overview of national grant funders: national grant funders are highly competitive and some are currently closed to new projects while priorities are reassessed in the wake of Covid-19. The big national grant funders include Esmee Fairburn, Comic Relief, Community Fund and EU Funding (this last one requires particularly lengthy form filling so be quick!)

Regional grant funders: you’re more likely to win a grant from a regional funder than a national one. Try speaking to ward councillors, district and county councillors in your area to see what’s available. Major regional grant funders include The Henry Smith Charity, Tesco Bags of Help and CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy).

Pillar three – Contracts 

The third pillar of the funding spectrum is contracts aka the structured market.

Have you ever thought about trying to win a contract to supply goods or services in your local area? Over recent years, the government has moved much of its funding from grants over to the structured market so there are more contracts becoming available. If you win a contract it will offer you sustainable funding wil fewer strings attached than in the grant funding arena. 

Contracts can be procured from the private and public sectors covering areas like infrastructure maintenance and health & wellbeing. Look to organisations like the Clinical Commissioning Group for contracts that could work for your community project.

To win a contract  you’ll need to be contract ready. Or you’ll need to partner with an organisation that’s already contract ready. Have a look around at who already secures contracts in your local area and try to come in as a delivery partner for them. Your local Community CVS could be a good source of information on potential partner organisation for you to work with.

Pillar four – Selling goods & services

The fourth pillar of the funding spectrum is sales aka the open market.

Anyone can generate income from goods or services sold on the open market. As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, online shopping for hyper local goods and services is on trend. So why not make the most of it? Be creative with what you can offer – could you sell repair services or membership fees, could you run courses or sell how-to guides, maybe you could earn money from training & mentoring or giving talks.

Remember to think about selling to either B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). And if you’re looking to create a shop front online try sites like Shopify.

Additional pillar five – Shares

If the legal model of your community organisation allows it and you feel it’s right for your organisation, you could set up a community share offer. 

According to the website Community Shares, the term ‘community shares’  refers to withdrawable share capital; a form of share capital unique to co-operative and community benefit society legislation. This type of share capital can only be issued by co-operative societies, community benefit societies and charitable community benefit societies.

Investing in community shares engages communities in a virtuous circle where it’s in their interest as members and investors to also be active as customers, supporters and volunteers. And the same applies to other stakeholders including employees and suppliers – giving new meaning to the term multi-stakeholder.

Community shares can be a great option for local shops and pubs, finance renewable energy schemes, transform community facilities, support local food growing, fund new football clubs, restore heritage buildings, and more.

Find advice and support on community shars from The Hive (who can offer access to a business advisor ) or The Plunkett Foundation (who are particularly supportive of community pub/shop projects in rural locations).

Additional pillar six – Loans

A really good social enterprise business plan with income projection is important here as the lender will need to know that you can repay the loan and interest. Once you’ve accessed a loan you’re free to spend the money as you wish making borrowing money a great way to be independent and creative with your community organisation. Loans are particularly useful for funding innovation costs or buying an asset for the community – the kinds of projects that will increase the value of your organisation to ensure you can repay the loan with interest. 

Look to social lenders including Co-operative & Community Finance, Good Finance (which has a great diagnostics tool too), Big Society Capital, Charity Bank and Triodos.

Additional pillar seven – Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise awareness of our community project while you’re raising money. But the crowdfunding space is crowded so you need to make sure your project stands out. You’ll need a compelling story and plenty of followers ready to amplify your story and get the word out.

Spend some time looking into the four main crowdfunding models before you decide which is the best fit for your organisation: 

Communication and marketing

Getting the word out is essential to any fundraising campaign. Whether you’re trying to win a contract or sell goods and services, you’ll need to get the word out to gain support.

Top tip: embrace digital! It’s not going to go away. If you don’t have the skills then advertise for voluntary support.

Think about setting up a website, don’t forget the power of email and be sure to stay active on social media. Facebook was used by most charities as a central comms channel through the Covid crisis. Clever use of images and text can mobilise volunteers, generate donations and increase support.

For support check out Digital Candle – a free service offering an hour’s free support on all aspects of digital from digital strategy to social media marketing.

For a list of useful links to the sites mentioned by Corinna in the workshop recording, go here.

In order to be truly sustainable: you want to be accessing money from each of these areas. Lost on how to get going? Come along to our next funding workshop  all about planning your funding strategy.

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.