Funding support for the third sector

Securing core funding


Identify your costs

The first stage in planning the funding of your core costs is to carefully plan your organisations budget. Set out clearly who funds what activity, where you have projects what costs are recovered from these to support ‘core’ costs. Consider how you apportion these costs using a full cost recovery method, but don’t use a 10% or 20% sum, funders like to know you have based the calculation on real expenditure.

At this point it is worth running through your activities that you have identified as core. Are any of these suitable to be turned into a project? These may not be possible each year or indeed for every aspect, but by creating short term, ‘mini project’ you can reduce the amount of core costs you need to secure.

Some examples of these mini project could include:


  • Governance costs – especially any costs incurred to improve governance such as training for trustees
  • Monitoring and evaluation – Can be built into all project costs but also can be viewed as research to improve future services or demonstrating need for an activity
  • Chief Officer – are their specific tasks the CEO does that could be part of a project; possible partnership work?
  • Consultations – Feedback on service to improve existing work or develop a new initiative; perhaps working with new people

Research and development

  • Cost to develop new projects – such as feasibility studies
  • Quality assurance _PQASSO, Investers in Volunteering
  • Staff training (and Trustees) – to show you are looking to improve quality of service

Support services

  • Finance – implementing Full Cost Recovery, managing funds more effectively
  • IT – broadening your means of communication
  • Fundraising activities – community fundraising perhaps to involve more of the community in what you do
  • Office accommodation – Maybe to improve access
  • Travel – helping you to reach more people, especially in extreme rural areas

Once you do this you may identify several areas where you can make small, and hopefully, simple funding applications to cover these costs.  As mentioned earlier, you may not be able to do this every year, but it is a worthwhile exercise to run through annually to identify opportunities for funding.

  • You can also try to reduce costs wherever possible; however, it is important to remember that this approach only has a limited effect, because cutting costs too far can lead to your organisation becoming over stretched.



Fundraising methods

To secure the funding to cover the core cost

  1. Find a funder In many ways, finding a funder is the easiest method. But remember, the funder may only be willing to pay for certain activities and their priorities may change after a number of years. There are not many funders who like to fund ‘core’ the majority preferring to fund specific projects or new initiatives.  Some funders who will fund core include: Tudor Trust, Trusthouse Foundation, Comic Relief, Lloyds TSB Foundation, Ashley Family Foundation, Will Charitable Trust, and Peter De Haan Charitable Trust
  2. Apportionment
    Apportion overheads into project budgets so that they cover elements of the core costs is common place. However, for small organisations with only a few projects it is unlikely that you will be able to cover all the costs using this method. It is also possible to become pre-occupied looking for new projects so that your main work suffers or you incur mission drift as you get pulled after different funding.
  3.  Self generation
    Developing activities within your organisation to raise money is always a good way of contributing towards core costs. This is a longer term plan and likely to need investment of both time and money to give a good return.
  4. Donations
    Specifically seeking donations to cover core costs. Let your supporters know how important this work is and the work it includes – core costs are more than heat and rent!
  5. Developmental
    It is possible to seek funding to develop your own investment in the infra structure of your organisation, although this is only a short term activity. This could be staff training, to gain a Quality Mark (PQASSO or Investors in Volunteering) or research. Awards for All is good for this; especially if you are using the funds to look at what your service users want/need from your service




  1. 9th December 2016    

    Thanks for this – very helpful for our organisation to consider. We’re a small charity that has benefitted from core funds for everything we do, currenntly in transition to… something else!?

    • 14th December 2016    

      good luck with the changes, let me know if I can help in anyway

  2. 8th March 2017    

    Well written article, many thanks. Lots of things to think about for those very deserving charities, such as ours, which has trouble attracting core funders.

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