Seven common ‘funding headaches’ for charities – and what you can do about it

As a charity ourselves, we understand the problems you face and for some there are solutions. This insightful article address problems - some not inevitable - that crop up to ensure you have the tools you need to overcome them.

Sometimes it might feel that we are alone with the issues we are facing as charities. But most of the sector faces similar struggles and problems in their day to day. Here is a list of the most common ‘charity sector headaches’. They affect everybody – but they are also not inevitable. For many there are solutions out there.

We all need to cover core costs

Many charities struggle to get core cost covered. Private funders are increasingly recognising this as an issue and build this into their grant-making. And even some parts of government are hearing the message from charities. DfID also just recently announce that it is piloting new funding guidelines on how to fully fund charities’ core costs. We here at DSC also think about this issue as well. That’s why our trustfunding website lets you filter and search for all trusts and foundations in the UK that fund core costs.

Unpopular causes are hard to fund

Unpopular causes – are unpopular. It is no surprise that they are hard to fund. Charities struggle to find long-term funding sources for them, or sometimes any funding at all. It can feel like your cause is extremely unpopular and that there are no funders that match you out there. But there are many funders out there that think quite the opposite. DSC fundraising resources will help you identify them. Our funding websites can show you that there are potentially thousands of funders out there that match with your cause. And sometimes it is about how to better communicate your cause to others as well. We offer training courses that help you with tailored grant applications or set-up and improve your digital marketing to better tell your stories to individuals.

Hear from Christina Hunter, Fundraising Manager, The Peter Pan Centre for Children with Special Needs, how DSC services helped here to fund her cause: “I’ve always used for research and have found it to be an invaluable tool. £270,000 is what we need to raise each year to continue the provision of our vital services, a large portion of which is done via grant and trust fundraising for all of which I use”

Proving impact to funders when having minimal resources

It’s that time of the year. You were busy delivering services and furthering your cause with stretched resources. You know what you did and whom you helped – but your funder wants proof of that and you need to report on it. What was your impact? Is your charity worth being funded going forward? How do we tell a compelling story about our work to an external audience? Do these questions sound familiar? Don’t worry – may charities struggle with this. DSC offers a bespoke and affordable services that can help with solving exactly these types of questions. This could be for example impact assessments and research tailored to your organisation, training courses on how to write for impact and bespoke in-house consultancy.

Government contracts are abundant grants are rare

Feel like government grants are disappearing and contracts are taking over? It’s true that the government grants to the voluntary sector have fallen from £6bn in 2003/04 to just £3.8bn in 2015/16, while income from contracts has risen exponentially and stands at £11.4bn. That’s a very lopsided relationship. Contracts can come with a lot of downsides for charities. For example, they can tie organisations down into services that are not working and do not allow them to redeploy resources where they are most needed. Grants are a force for getting the best out of charities. We here at DSC champion best practice giving for the sector. We support the Grants for Good campaign that regularly describe the problems of contracts and benefits of grants for charities on the ground.

Competition over resources

Feel like everybody is competing for the same pots of money? Big brands crowding out small charities, many small charities competing with each other over the same sources of funding? Things are probably less of a dog-eat-dog world than we perceive them. But it is rather true across the board that standing still and not evolving can lead to organisational demise. DSC has been set up to address exactly that problem. We have specialised training courses in fundraising and digital marketing that lets you connect to your donor or make that funding application just a tick better to get it over the finishing line. Our funding websites let you access the biggest database on funder information in the UK. We have one of the biggest collection of fundraising expert literature available – any topic you want to explore you can get a book on it in hard or digital copy via us. Meet peers at our flagship event Fundraising Now 2018 and learn how to promote and fund your cause using state of the art techniques and approaches.

A flow of regulations and rules

Can’t see anymore through the jungle of fundraising rules? Understanding the many rules around charity law, campaigning, governance and fundraising is difficult and time-intensive. Our policy updates help you to get up to date. We have the right training to help you make sense of it all. The trainers in our large network are up to date with regulatory change and break it down to you what it all means. You pick the area you are interested in and we either have a course available or can put one together based on your organisational demands.

Promoting the work and value of charities

Charities already have to convince the public and funders that they are worth investing in – it can sometimes feel that this job is getting harder when the public is being repeatedly told by the media and politicians that they are not. Think trust in charities is down? Feel like media is talking down ‘all charities’ taring them with the same brush? We have the counter-arguments on why most charities are trustworthy and do good work in their communities – and the data to back them up. Read our blogs and commentary, research reports and campaign outputs, and sign up for our newsletters.  need to tell your story better? We can help you with everything from media training, digital marketing and writing for impact.