Charities and Grants – What are the challenges?

12 February 2020

Charities have various ways of fundraising for their cause and generating income. They might ask for public donation, shake tins in the street, leave them on a counter of a retail business. Other options include running events, sell goods or services, or asking for businesses to support or sponsor them. Or a mixture of all of these alongside a strong media relations policy to raise awareness. One of the other most popular income streams is to access grants from other bodies. This may seem like it’s an easy route to free money. However don’t be fooled, this is a highly competitive and complex process, often with many checks and balances built in. Applying for grants can be an absolute minefield and can impact massively upon the time of those working within a charity – whether volunteers or those in a paid role. Indeed, there’s been a significant rise in professionals who make a living from helping charities and not-for-profits access these sources of income. It’s estimated there are at least 4,000 sources of grants available across the UK.

These grants can come from a range of sources which include:

  • Company/Brand giving
  • Grant making trusts and charitable foundations
  • Lottery funding
  • Central government
  • Local government
  • European funding (at time of writing)


However, there can be challenges with this type of funding – and that’s on top of the often complex, onerous and detailed application process. Most are short term - usually a maximum of three years so they are not suitable as a long-term sustainable option. There will often be strict conditions attached to the funding – some funders will set strict terms & conditions around how the money can be used and it has to be used according to their criteria. Overheads – most grants will often not fund operational day to day costs or overheads and it is often this that charities most need to be sustainable. Time – the time and effort to apply can be onerous. My top tip is to explore all funding options and plan what fundraising strategies will work best for your organisation. Grant funding can however be a vital source of funding to any charity. If you are confused or concerned about any of this – don’t hesitate to get in touch, or check out our charities and not for profit web page.  


Sue Plumb

Charity & NFP Partner - Swindon