Funding for charities – getting started

Before you start asking for money from any source, you need to set strong foundations for funding success. No funder, whatever their type, is likely to give you money if your group isn’t a secure investment.

So, before you start you should:

  • Understand your legal structure and ensure that your group is well run and complies with relevant laws.
  • Put financial controls in place so you know how much money you need and how you’ll keep track of the money you raise.
  • If you’ve been operating for more than a year, make sure you have prepared your annual report and accounts. Many funders will ask for these.
  • Plan the work you’re going to undertake thoroughly. A good project plan can make your funding application stand out from the crowd.

Other topics to consider

Depending on your group’s size, complexity and what sort of funding you’re applying for, you may want to:

  • Consider whether or not collaboration would strengthen your position and make you more likely to win funding.
  • Think about showing your commitment to high standards by adopting a quality assurance system.

Before you ask for money

Before you start asking for money from any source, you need to take responsibility for your organisation’s fundraising by following a number of principles:

Planning effectively: This is about the trustees/ board of directors agreeing and monitoring the organisation’s overall approach to fundraising. A fundraising plan/strategy should take account of risks, your organisation’s values, its relationship with donors and the wider public, as well as its income needs and expectations.

Supervising your fundraisers: The trustees/board of directors need to have systems in place to oversee the fundraising which others might carry out for the organisation, in order that you can be sure that the fundraising activities are in the organisation’s best interests.

Protecting your organisation’s reputation, money and other assets: This is about making sure there is adequate consideration of the impact of the fundraising activities in context to donors, supporters, and the public. Making sure that the organisation receives the money raised, and steps are taken to reduce risk of loss or fraud.

Identifying and ensuring compliance with the laws or regulations that apply specifically to the organisation’s fundraising: There are a number of legal rules that apply to different types and aspects of fundraising. Such as data protection law and licensing.

Identifying and following any recognised standards that apply to your organisation’s fundraising: The fundraising regulator’s code of fundraising practice outlines the legal rules that apply to fundraising and the standards designed to ensure that fundraising is open, honest, and respectful.

Being open and accountable: This includes complying with any relevant statutory accounting and reporting requirements on fundraising. As well as being able to effectively explain your fundraising work to members of the public, donors and supporters.