Unrestricted funding

What is it? How and why do foundations offer it? How can charities ask for it?

New research: The holy grail of funding

Through the voices of trustees and senior staff from 12 trusts and foundations, we argue that whatever your constraints, and however far along the journey you are, it is worth asking: can we go further in offering unrestricted funding?

What is unrestricted funding?

The terms ‘unrestricted funding’ and ‘core funding’ are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. We use: 

Unrestricted funding to describe no strings funding that organisations can use for anything within their charitable objects. 

Core funding to mean grants restricted to either a specific element of overheads (for example, rental costs or the Director’s salary) or grants available to be used for essential running costs more broadly. 

Project funding to mean grants restricted to the delivery of a specific project or defined set of activities, often (but not always) including a percentage contribution towards general running costs.

Unrestricted funding is the single most powerful thing that funders can do to support charities. It enables us to be agile and decisive … while planning as best we can for whatever the future holds.

Why offer it?

Critical questions for foundations

We have identified some of the critical questions that help foundations to navigate the opportunities and barriers they experience in offering unrestricted funding.

How to ask for unrestricted funding

We don’t have any magic words for securing unrestricted funding, but we can share what it is, why it’s worth pursuing, and ideas that may be useful when considering how to make your case. 

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With thanks to Sport4Health and Damien Rosser/Eden Project Communities for the photos used on this page.

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