Five ways to find sources of funding

  • Finding new sources of funding can be difficult for charities
  • Support is available from a variety of organisations including councils and Councils for Voluntary Services
  • We look at the best ways to find out about available funding for charities, community groups and clubs

It can be hard to know where to find funding. However, there are lots of sources available along with lots of free support. Fundraising expert Gemma Kingsman looks at five ways you can find out about funding opportunities.

1. Register with your local CVS

There are more than 350 local support and development charities in the UK. These charities are known as Councils for Voluntary Services (CVS) or local voluntary and community action centres. Their role is to provide infrastructure support for small not-for-profit organisations.

Most CVS produce free funding newsletters. These keep you up-to-date on funds in your local area. Many of the organisations also offer free funding advice sessions covering a wide range of topics, including completing funding applications, general fundraising training and sessions with funders.

To find your local CVS, search the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action’s (NAVCA) online members directory.

2. Contact your local council

Many councils have dedicated staff and services to support the not-for-profit sector and provide information about council funding opportunities, supporting organisations with funding searches and providing local statistics to support applications.

Information about services can be quite hard to find on councils’ websites, but try searching for ‘funding’ or ‘community’ or ask your local CVS for more information.

3. Register for free funding searches

There are a number of funding directory websites. These are free to join and designed to help small not-for-profit organisations. Many run an email digest so you can receive funder updates and deadline reminders.

  • Funding Central – free to join, Funding Central has a search facility of over 4,000 grants, contracts and loans. Once registered you can receive funding update emails. To learn how to get the most from the site they have a ‘Learn More’ video
  • Guidestar – connects donors and funders to not-for-profit organisations. Guidestar’s search facility enables you to identify the smaller trust funders that are often not in other directories. You can use the search facility to look up a local funder in your area or complete a general search. To carry out a general search go to the advanced search option, enter the name of the city or county of your project catchment area and tick the grant maker box
  • GRANTNet – free, easy to use search facility for small not-for-profits. Their simple questionnaire process enables you to select funders that are appropriate to your organisation’s needs from a database of 5,000 funders

4. Use paper directories

Paper funding directories list over 2,500 trusts and foundations. There are a variety of directories covering grant making trusts, major trust funders and new trust funders.

These are annual guides that are updated yearly and can cost up to £125. Many libraries stock reference copies of funding directories. Check what your local library has in stock.

There are also area and subject-specific directories. For example, the Directory of Social Change publishes and sells specific funding directories covering environment, sports and youth funding.

5. Use free funding guides on specific areas

There are a number of free guides and lists of funders available online for specific subject areas. For example:

  • The Princes Trust has a list of funders for community organisations and child-led funding
  • The Arts Council provides a list of other sources of arts funding
  • Green Space Scotland has a list of funders for environmental projects
  • The Edge Fund supports campaigners and grassroots organisations that make change rather than traditional charity work. It has created a list of other funders with similar goals
  • Community Action Derby has created many downloadable documents listing themed funders. These include a guide to funding for mental health projects and funders supporting refugees, asylum seekers and ethnic minority groups