Sustainable funding is not a source of funding or income, nor is it concerned with being able to fundraise better or more effectively. It's about changing your approach to funding, being open to new ideas and planning for the long-term future.

When organisations depend on a single funder or one or two sources of income it causes problems when a funding application or income source fails. Thinking about adopting a diverse funding mix can help your organisation become more financially sustainable in the long-term.

Sustainable funding is concerned with an organisation exploring opportunities to diversify its income - examining the viability of adopting new funding sources to develop the right funding mix.

The key to ensuring financial sustainability is the diversification of income streams underpinned by effective management and planning.

It is important to remember that achieving financial sustainability does not happen overnight. Working towards sustainability is an ongoing process that takes time, effort, commitment and a shared vision.

There are three main steps involved in achieving sustainability:

1. Income diversification - organisations must be able to explore and adopt a sustainable and diverse mix of income sources, which often means adopting new income streams. It is important that organisations do not rely heavily on a single income stream; if one source of income diminishes an organisation's overall viability should not be threatened.

2. Organisational skills- working towards sustainability often means making considerable changes within an organisation. It is vital that organisations are equipped with the right skills and knowledge before considering organisational change. Income diversification often requires new skills for example marketing, negotiation or employment law. Organisations must be fit for purpose before considering these avenues.

3. Planning - the key to ensuring financial sustainability is effective planning and management. Forward planning is vital to the ongoing success of any organisation. Thorough planning can assist an organisation to focus attention on its long-term future and how it is going to get there.

If you would like to know more about sustainable funding or ideas on how to diversify your funding mix please contact us or your local county voluntary council.