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01. Background

This factsheet is for anyone, but predominately community groups, considering fundraising and submitting funding bids to trusts, foundations and other funding bodies.

Most community projects will at some point need funding to carry out essential activities. Depending on the scale of the project, groups may need only a small amount of money where fundraising events such as a local fete or small bric-a-brac sales might suffice.

There are also funders across the North East, as well as nationally, who can provide more substantial funding for larger community projects. It is this type of fundraising that this factsheet is designed to help groups with.

02. Suggested Activities

Here are simple steps and standard best practice for fundraising and writing general funding bids:

Step 1: Before you start to fundraise

Any group considering fundraising should contact their local development agency’s funding adviser. Such advisers can provide detailed advice and guidance on all issues relating to fundraising.

Depending on the size and nature of your project, you will also need to think about the following:


Who is going to be responsible for fundraising in the group? Will it involve everyone in your group? Will you set up a special committee? Or will it be the responsibility of a specific individual? Think about the skills needed to fundraise successfully – written and verbal communication skills, enthusiasm, creativity, organisational abilities and commitment – and identify people in your group who have these skills. Similarly, you should identify any potentially helpful contacts your group already has (such as local businesses and philanthropic organisations) to help directly or indirectly with your fundraising.

Charitable status

Before you start your fundraising you should also consider your group’s charitable status. Any charitable organisation that is not registered with the Charity Commission will find it more difficult to raise funds than an organisation which is registered. This is because the majority of funders are themselves, registered charities and must therefore confine their grants to purposes which are charitable in law. For further advice on registering as a charity contact your nearest local development agency. In addition, the Charity Commission produces a very helpful information pack available on their website at or you can contact them directly on 0845 300 0218.


As a group you might also need to consider and develop a constitution. A constitution sets out the aims and objectives of your group and the rules governing how the group is managed and run. For further advice on constitutions visit the factsheet ‘Set up a community group’. A constitution is particularly important as it reassures funders that you are a responsible organisation. It is also a necessity if you want to become a registered charity.

Bank account

You should open a bank or building society account in the name of your group before you start to fundraise. You will need to have two or three signatories who are not related, to sign cheques.

Planning Ahead 

Raising money takes time. Forward planning is essential. A clear fundraising plan is a good way of clarifying what you need to do and when, so that you are not constantly raising money for the short term.

Raising money yourselves    

Most funders want to see that a group is trying to raise some of its funds by its own efforts, no matter how small a percentage of the total income this provides. Organising a fundraising event is still one of the best ways of funding voluntary activity and it can help to raise awareness of your organisation and its work. You could also consider charging for the services you provide to bring in additional funds.

Drawing up a budget

A budget is simply your group’s plans for the coming year set out in money terms. Your local development agency’s funding adviser can help you do this.

You will also need to think about your annual accounts. Unless you are a new group, funders will ask to see your previous year’s accounts to reassure themselves that you are financially secure and can manage any funds they give you.


Step 2. Identify and approach Trusts and Funding Bodies

Identify potential trusts and funding bodies from whom you wish to seek funding from. The factsheets throughout this toolkit mention various funding bodies and charitable trusts that offer financial support to voluntary and community groups. The Directory contains up to date information on current funding opportunities.

Once you have identified an appropriate source of funding for your project you should make sure you know as much as possible about the funders:

  • Know the size of grants the funder awards.
  • Know the closing dates for submitting your application and how long the application process takes.
  • Obtain up to date information about the funder’s funding policies and priorities.
  • Obtain up to date guidance on the funder’s application procedure.
  • Speak to the funding adviser at your local development agency for further advice.

Step 3. Writing your bid

Make sure you fully understand the funder’s application process before you make an application. Some funders use application forms, while others require a letter.

Make sure your grant application is clear and concise, and involves a number of key elements:

  • A good project.
  • A good case for support.
  • The credibility of your group or organisation.
  • The people involved in the project.
  • The interests and funding priorities of the funder being approached.

A good guiding principle to what should be included in a good application is the 7 “Ws” and the 2 “Hs”. Consider each of these elements when writing your grant:

  • Who you are.
  • What you want to do.
  • Why it is needed.
  • Where you want to do it.
  • Who is going to benefit.
  • When you are going to do it.
  • What it will cost.
  • How you are going to monitor and evaluate the success and impact.
  • How you are going to continue the work when the funding ends.

To ensure your application is clear and concise you will need to understand your key selling points:

  • Why your work is important.
  • Who benefits from your work?
  • How many people benefit from your work?
  • What is unique or different about your work?

Also remember to consider what the funding body is looking for. If possible, arrange to speak to or see a grants officer at that organisation. When compiling any funding application, always try to speak to the experts at your local development agency for further advice.

03. Funding Opportunities

Sustainable funding is an approach to funding that involves diversifying an organisation’s income base (to include sources such as contracts and trading, as well as grant funding) in order to become more resilient.

There are a number of resources available on sustainable funding and diversifying income – just a few are mentioned here. A good starting point for resources is NCVO’s website which houses a range of useful resources. NCVO’s Sustainable Funding Project gives general advice and has various resources including case studies, needs analysis tools and guides to trading and public sector contracts. Visit

We would also recommend that you contact your local development agency who will be able to offer further support on sustainable funding.

There are a number of funding organisations and types of funds that support voluntary and community organisations. The Directory provides further information. Here are a few examples:


Your local development agency’s funding adviser will also be able to give you information about relevant sources of funding for your project, and should be contacted in the first instance.

Local authorities offer opportunities for funding for voluntary and community organisations through a variety of mechanisms, including:

  • Grant funding programmes
  • Contracts for public service delivery
  • Transferring assets such as land or buildings to voluntary and community organisations for the benefit of the community

Full contact details of your nearest local authority and local development agency can be found in the Directory.


Lottery raises money to invest in people and places all across the United Kingdom. For every £1 ticket sold, 28p goes to good causes including sports, the arts, charities, heritage, education, health and the environment. The main bodies that distribute lottery funding are the Big Lottery Fund, the Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, and Sport England. These four distributors also run a joint programme called Awards for All that makes grants of up to £10,000 to community projects. Information about lottery funding programmes is available from the Lottery Funding website at

Directory of Social Change is an independent charity with a vision of an independent voluntary sector at the heart of social change. They achieve this by providing essential and training to the voluntary sector to enable charities to achieve their mission. DSC provides a wide variety of resources for charities, including our well known UK fundraising guides, directories and funding websites at

Their funding websites include: – an excellent tool for researching potential corporate partnerships, especially when narrowing down by causes supported and location. – is a searchable website providing information on grants for the voluntary and community groups from UK Government departments. – is a searchable website of all charitable trusts in the UK providing grants to voluntary sector groups. – is a searchable website of all UK charities which can provide financial relief to individuals in need or for educational purposes.

Loan funding is an increasingly common source of funding for voluntary and community organisations and can be used in combination with grant funding according to the organisation’s needs. The National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Sustainable Funding Project has produced a useful webpage on loan finance for voluntary and community sector organisations. The page includes resources to help you decide whether loans are appropriate for your organisation and links to providers of loan finance. Visit


European Funding from the European Commission for the voluntary and community sector comes mainly in the form of ESF Community Grants to provide awards of up to £12,000 to groups working in education and training in the North East. The emphasis of funding, although not exclusive, is on black minority ethnic, over 50s, females, lone parents and those with health conditions or disabilities. The fund is now open for applications from community groups in the North East. Anyone wishing to apply for a grant should apply directly to their local community foundation. Contact details can be found in the Directory.

The Third Sector European Network provides further information on the opportunities available to the third sector in Europe on their website at

In the North East

Funding Information North East provides up to date information on sources of funding for North East voluntary and community sector organisations via its publications and services, including:

  • The North East Guide to Grants for Voluntary Organisations – a paperback directory published every two years.
  • News You Can Use – a weekly email bulletin.
  • Grants Bulletin – a paper bulletin published every six weeks.
  • North East Third Sector Funding Opportunites Database – available to subscribers via their website.

For details please visit Please note you will have to subscribe to receive information from FINE.

Up to date information on current funding opportunities available are included in the Directory section of this toolkit.

04. Useful Contacts

For additional advice and help, you should seek guidance from your local funding adviser through your local development agency. Full contact details of all local development agencies can be found in the Directory.

Additional useful information and general advice on fundraising is also available on Funding Information North East’s website at

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) provides advice and support on funding and finance on their website. Visit

05. Checklist

To help you fundraise successfully follow these 10 essential steps:

1 Do your research – make sure that you are applying to an appropriate funder and that your request fits their funding policies and criteria.

2 Your application should be addressed to a specific, named person – not “Dear Sir/Madam”. Make sure you have spelt their name correctly! Don’t forget to include your name and address and to sign the application.

3 Your application should explain the essential points about your organisation or project, covering the 7 “Ws” and the 2 “Hs”:

4 Ask for a specific amount of money – it will give funders a better idea of how to gauge the size of grant to give. Make sure the amount you request is in line with the grant amounts normally awarded by the funder.

5 Include a budget in your application – this should be clear, comprehensive and realistic. You need to have precise quotes of costs for everything you are asking for.

6 Keep your letter clear and concise – it should be a maximum of two sides of A4. Do not use jargon or abbreviations.

7 Make sure you include all relevant or requested supporting material such as accounts, annual reports, leaflets etc.

8 Re-read your application carefully before posting it, to make sure you haven’t left anything out or made any mistakes, as this damages your credibility – even better, get someone from outside of your organisation to do it.

9 Time your application correctly. Many trusts publish the dates of their trustees’ meetings. Trusts may also specify application deadlines. You should send your application well in advance of any deadline and make sure you put the correct postage on the envelope.

10 If your application is successful, remember to thank the funder and keep them informed about the progress of your project.

06. About the Contributor

The information contained in this factsheet has been written Funding Information North East, the leading funding information provider for the voluntary and community sector in the North East.

This factsheet is part of the Brighter Futures Together toolkit and provides a general overview of the different ways to get involved in your community. It is not a comprehensive guide or legal advice document. Please seek further advice and appropriate consent before commencing any projects.

The material in the factsheet is not copyrighted however we ask that you acknowledge the Brighter Futures Together toolkit when you use them.