Sustainability is not just about money. Too often sustainable funding is seen as simply getting better at fundraising or locating one everlasting source of income. Instead, it should be seen as a more strategic and rounded approach to ensuring the future financial sustainability of the organisation.
This strategic approach encompasses effective planning, diversifying an organisation’s income where possible, building organisational skills and capacity and choosing the right funding mix to drive development at the right time.
- A key element of sustainability is to know what income streams are available and being open to new approaches.
- Income diversification is concerned with exploring and adopting a sustainable and diverse mix of income sources, which often means adopting new income streams.
- There are many opportunities available but these opportunities need to be better understood and organisations need to explore their potential.
- Different income streams are accessed and managed in different ways and involve different relationships with the individual or organisation supplying the funds.
- The skills needed to access money from each income source vary, for example:
- the ability to fill in a form may be useful in winning grant funding but negotiating skills might also be needed to obtain funds through income generating activities such as consulting on a piece of work
- using innovative approaches may be required for putting together value propositions for other income generating activities related to core work.
All organisations are different however the message of diversification applies to everyone. Over reliance on any single income source is a risk. It is much better to have a diverse funding mix.