Funding Central – becoming sustainable

You may have heard recently that after seven years of financial support the Cabinet Office funding to run our Funding Central website has come to an end.

There may be a few of you that aren’t aware of Funding Central; it’s NCVO’s website listing thousands of grant and loan finance funding opportunities and providing support and advice on funding options and strategies.

The site was developed in 2009 and has since helped thousands of voluntary sector organisations find new funding, diversify their income and become sustainable.

But with the Cabinet Office contract ending, it’s now time for Funding Central itself to find new funding, diversify its income and become self-sustaining.

Why we want to keep Funding Central going

Since the start of Funding Central we have carried out annual surveys of our users. Survey respondents told us they received on average around £23,000 per year from opportunities found on Funding Central. That’s a lot of money to a lot of great causes.

In our most recent survey we asked our users to tell us how the site helps them:

  • 82% told us that Funding Central alerted them to new funds
  • 65% said that they had applied for funding – with ¼ of these being successful so far
  • Our users also said we save them time – on average 3 hours a week.

Because of this success NCVO are committed to continuing Funding Central even without Cabinet Office funding, as we know it’s really important for the sector.

How to make Funding Central sustainable?

Over the past months we have been working hard to develop a new business model to keep Funding Central both financially sustainable and accessible. The Cabinet Office funding was nearly £300,000 a year, so this is no mean task.

We are instigating a number of new fundraising streams to create a ‘mixed fundraising economy’.

Trading – subscriptions

From 15 June we are introducing a small annual subscription for users to replace the Cabinet Office funding. We have kept the fees as low as we possibly can.

For organisations, with a turnover over £100,000 pa, there will be an annual fee of £100 plus VAT. Individual users will need to pay £50 plus VAT. Funding Central will continue to be free for smaller organisations with a turnover under £100,000 pa (currently about 70% of the organisations registered on the site).

You can find out more on this and subscribe (in advance of 15 June to make sure you’re ready).

Grants – secured from funders

We’ve talked to trusts and foundations who recognise Funding Central’s key role for the sector. To date we are grateful to have secured funding from both The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Research by NCVO has found that small and medium-sized charities have struggled more than larger organisations to diversify their income, making them less resilient to external changes. A key focus of Funding Central has been supporting smaller organisations to explore different income streams available and help them to diversify.

These grants from funders will help us to continue providing free access to the site for smaller organisations, as now more than ever there’s a need for this.

However the more the merrier and the more we can achieve, so we will continue to talk to a range of funders about how they can help.


We continue to explore possibilities with the private sector which will benefit our users and allow us to create a sustainable future for the site.


We know Funding Central is important to the whole sector and so we are committed to contributing funding to the project ourselves.

Still the best value

There’s not a nice way of hearing that something that was free is no longer going to be. But we’ve done everything we can to keep the costs down, and to keep using and subscribing to the site as simple as possible. We believe that Funding Central is still by a very long way the best value grant and loan-finding service, and we are committed to keeping it that way.


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Toby Lovatt is the project manager for Funding Central, an NCVO website which provides information on grant, contract and loan finance opportunities as well as funding support and advice for the voluntary sector.

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