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Certificate in Financial Sustainability

NCVO’s Certificate in Financial Sustainability, accredited by the Open College Network, is our flagship course supporting individuals to take a fresh look at how they can achieve a sustainable future for their organisations.

Sitting between training and consultancy, the certificate draws on the tools and methodology from NCVO’s pioneering ‘sustainable funding’ approach to take a fresh look at how participants can achieve financial sustainability for their organisations.

Sustainable funding is more than just fundraising. It is more strategic, more flexible and is built around the aim of reducing an organisation’s exposure to risk whilst increasing its ability to pursue strategic goals. Sustainable funding examines all sources of income – gifts and donations, grants, contracts, trading and enterprise and loan finance – along with marketing and financial management. It also considers the importance of ethics and organisational values and culture.

If you are a manager or trustee within a voluntary sector organisation who has the responsibility for developing a funding strategy, then the Certificate in Financial Sustainability is for you.

Who should apply

While the content is undoubtedly valuable, it is something about taking the time out to stop, think and be supported to consider afresh the challenges facing their organisations that participants seem to appreciate the most.

– Ros Jenkins, trainer and NCVO’s lead on sustainable funding.

This course is aimed at those who have strategic overview or responsibility for raising funds across different income streams. It will be of most benefit to managers and decision makers who want a combination of training, guidance and consultancy support to create lasting change in their organisation’s or projects funding.

Every individual attending needs to be working – or volunteering – within an organisation at a strategic level. We know that many people reached this level with little formal training in fundraising and income generation, or perhaps find that they are not yet equipped with the skills and knowledge to steer their organisations through the rapidly changing funding landscape.

You will benefit from learning from NCVO consultants and from a group of peers. Indeed, much of our work is to facilitate delegates learning and supporting each other as much as possible. Each module emphasises this interaction, and between sessions you are supported via an online network. The certificate is awarded based on an ongoing assessment during the three core modules and by successfully submitting a sustainable funding strategy to be reviewed with an NCVO consultant following the completion of the course.


The next Certificate in Financial Sustainability will start in February 2017.

Module Date
1 21 February
2 22 February
3 29 March

Ideally, we would like people to attend each date of the course with their cohort but we appreciate time is precious so you are able to attend dates across the year as long as you complete modules 1,2 and 3 in order.

What the course includes

With three full days of tuition spread out over three months, you'll be able to place sustainable funding theory in the current political and environmental context and then apply what you learn in the classroom to your own organisation.

Through a combination of expert contributors, group workshops, Q&A sessions and networking, you'll have the opportunity to work alongside your peers in a supportive environment while having practical assistance to develop a plan to manage your fundraising and income generation.

Participants receive a copy of the NCVO publication, The Art of Raising Money as well as a pack of practical tools and resources to support the presented material.

Pre course work

Via an online collaboration platform, you will be able to watch webinars introducing you to sustainable funding and giving some headlines from recent data and research. We would also advise that you read almanac data to see latest trends and research in funding and income in the voluntary sector.

This is followed by three taught sessions:

Day 1: Funding strategies in context

  • How is a Sustainable funding strategy different?
  • The differences between income streams
  • Evaluate opportunities and set them within an organisational context
  • Define realistic and appropriate funding goals,
  • Explore financial management tools and practices to monitor these goals
  • Managing and mitigating against risk
  • Integrating an ethical approach to funding

Day 2: Implementing your funding strategy: putting your strategy into practice

  • How to strongly position your organisation in a competitive environment, win support and nurture a diverse range of relationships.
  • Producing evidence of the need for your work, and your impact
  • The role of funding products – evaluating your portfolio and developing new ideas.
  • building a case for support and pitching successfully
  • Building internal support and making change happen

At the end of the day, you will have identified which funding approaches and opportunities are likely to prove fruitful. This allows you to use the time before the next module to begin to scope these options, and involve a wider group of people in evaluating which to take forward.

Day 3: Review and peer learning

The group will reconvene on day 3 to:

  • share experiences, knowledge, challenges and solutions
  • Hear from a guest speaker, arranged following feedback from the group, who can help you to take your strategy to the next level (previous speakers have supported delegates with financial management, impact, case for support, marketing and policy)
  • Consider how to produce and implement an appropriate and effective funding strategy
  • Explore approaches to leading change and overcoming barriers.

Ongoing support

In the three months following completion of the taught sessions, delegates can arrange for an NCVO consultant to read and give feedback on their Sustainable Funding strategy. This acts as both a valuable sounding board but also an incentive to continue to put into practice the learning from the course. Delegates then have the option to submit their course materials for accreditation by the Open College Network. This course is four units of a bespoke OCN level 3 unit.


  • Self-funded individuals/NCVO Member Organisation £650 (30% saving on full price)
  • Non NCVO Member Organisations £930 (full price)

We will give you a 10% discount for booking all three modules in one cohort.

NCVO members receive a 30% discount.

If your organisation is not an NCVO member, you may wish to join us and enjoy the discount on this course fee, plus access to ongoing support and benefits from NCVO. Membership fees are set on a sliding scale – the smaller your organisation the less you pay.

Find out more about NCVO membership.

This training course is VAT exempt.


Before attending the programme my funding ideas were like a pile of materials, and now they're flying together like a kite.

– Sarah Aston, The Eddystone Trust

Thank you, again, for a really excellent course and for your help and detailed feedback with the assessments. I learned so much and have already put it into practice with a signed off funding strategy from our trustees this week. Now I just have to deliver it!

– Anood Al-Samerai, TalentED


Please complete the online form to apply for this course.

Application does not guarantee a place on the course. Applications will be assessed for suitability.

Each delegate needs to commit to attending all three days and completing a small amount of preparatory work before the course. In between modules 2 and 3 we expect that you delegates will continue to develop their ideas – the length of time needed for this will vary by the complexity of the idea and delegates are likely to need to set aside at least two hours for this preparatory work, and there will be optional extra reading.

Get in touch

If you have any further questions, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 020 7520 2587.

Cancellation and payment policy

50% of delegate fees will be refunded for cancellations received three weeks before the event. After this date, no fees are refundable for cancellation or non-attendance. All cancellations and changes need to be sent in writing.

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