Major grant-maker tells charities they must look beyond grant funding

Charities need to look beyond grant funding and consider other creative ways of generating income, the Head of Investment and Grants at Comic Relief has said.

Speaking at a London conference organised by the NGO umbrella body Bond, Sue Wicks told delegates that income was one of the big challenges she foresaw for charities, including Comic Relief, over the next five years.

I think this challenge demands of us that, as funders, we are thinking about how we can be creative with the funding we’ve got and how we can create the biggest impact,” she said.

Wicks stated that meant funders had to go back and consider the ways in which they offered funding.

Where appropriate, we would encourage organisations to just think about life beyond grants,” she said.

Wicks acknowledged this would not work for all charities, but some should look at “different ways of using finance” and she said that Comic Relief was increasingly finding that organisations wanted to generate income from the services they delivered and consulted the grant funder on how to do it.

Her comments were echoed later in the day by Dominic Brain, head of programme innovation and funding at Christian Aid, in a session on how development charities can deal with any loss of funding caused by Brexit.

Brain said one of the things organisations worried about was diversification of income.

Find alternatives, even if that is outside your comfort zone,” he said. “But it’s not all about institutional fundraising. It’s also about connecting with individuals, communities, churches and companies.

We have to make sure that there is thriving support for our mission in the UK.”