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Practical ideas to increase or change your income

This page is free to all

There may be challenges to increasing your income during the cost of living crisis. Use this page to:

  • learn key questions to ask yourself before you invest in income generation
  • and get practical ideas of raising more cash fast.

Introduction to increasing your income

Income generation takes time, energy and often investment to be successful.

When considering ways to increase income, you should consider the following ideas:

  • Level of investment: You may need to spend money to raise money. This might include costs for staff or the direct costs of the income generation activity. Consider if you can make the right type of investment to Make sure your income generation is successful.
  • Speed of return: It might take time for you to receive the income from your efforts. Be cautious of assuming speedy returns and receipt of cash.
  • Return on investment: The cost of income generation should be proportionate and match up with the income and other benefits it produces. Any investment in fundraising should be in the charity's best interests.
  • Stay compliant: All charities must follow the Charity Commission's guidance on fundraising. You should also consider the Fundraising Regulators Code of Practice.

Read our guidance on funding and income planning to learn more.

Grants about the Cost of Living 

Some funders are offering specific funding to help charities to cope with the cost of living pressures.

Read our guidance about grant funding to learn more.

Check you're getting all the income you can

Consider if you’ve maximised all the income you are due, entitled to or owed:

Practical ideas for raising funds

Approach previous and current donors 

You may have relationships with current donors who might be willing to assist you. You could consider these options:

  • Requesting payment at different times: If you believe you are financially sustainable but struggling to manage your cashflow, you could ask a donor to give you funds at a different pattern or to give funds in advance.
  • Requesting an increase: Speak with funders or donors about the increased costs you face due to the cost of living. Some may be willing to top-up their current donations.
  • Requesting change for the use of funds: If the funds are for a specific purpose, you could ask for them to allow you to redeploy and use the same funds for a different specific purpose while still contributing to your overall charitable purpose.
  • Approach for new funds: Consider whether existing or previous funders would be willing to give an additional grant to support your work.

Diversify your fundraising

Consider if there are other ways to raise funds. Think about new ways to raise money from individuals or companies.

Read our guidance on fundraising methods to learn more.

Consider social investment

Social investment is the use of repayable finance to help an organisation achieve a social purpose.

Charities and social enterprises can use repayable finance, for example, by providing money to cover the day-to-day costs of delivering a contract or buying equipment or other assets.​​

  • Learn more about social investment on the Good Finance website.
  • Complete the Good Finance diagnostic tool to decide if social investment is suitable for your organisation. It takes about two to three minutes to complete and will help you understand if social investment is something your organisation should consider.

Sublet your current space

If you have a property or rental tenancy, consider whether you could sublet all or part of the space to another organisation.

Read this guidance on potential options from VWV to learn more.

Renegotiate delivery of current contracts

Charities should expect and negotiate for public bodies to cover the full costs of delivering a service for them unless the charity decides it is in its beneficiaries' interests to part pay for this.

If you’re having a significant increase in your costs, you may choose to:

  • seek more funding
  • change the service you offer within the current contract value
  • use your charitable funds to part pay for this
  • not deliver the service.

Consider the pros and cons of talking with the public body. They will have their own duties of due diligence and make sure that public service providers are financially sustainable.

You may also have specific contractual obligations to let them know about the financial management of your service delivery.

Consider introducing or increasing charging for goods or services

If you currently generate income by selling goods, services or access to facilities, consider whether you could increase or change your fees.

Learn more about the pros and cons of charging in the NFP Synergy paper: A Small Price to Pay: The pros and cons of charging charity beneficiaries

Charities can charge more than the direct cost of providing services and facilities as long as the charges are reasonable. Consider how charges – and the charging level – further the charity's purposes for the public benefit.

Trustees must not run the charity in a way that excludes poorer people from benefit.

Read and follow the Charity Commission guidance on public benefit and charging for services to learn more.

If you decide to introduce or increase your fees, consider these options:

  • Segmenting who you charge (categorising them by a shared characteristic) and having different charges for those most able to absorb the increase.
  • Small increments change over time rather than one big increase.
  • Being open and explaining why your prices have risen. Remind people that you’re a charity and the process you have taken to decide the increase level.
  • Consider your pricing strategy. For example, can you bundle products or services - where the overall price for multiple options is cheaper than adding each individually, encouraging customers to buy more from you. You could consider offering discounts if the goods or services are prepaid (so you receive the cash upfront, easing your cash flow).

Sell unnecessary goods or assets

Consider whether you have any goods you no longer need but have some value at resale, such as furniture, computers or other materials.

Learn more about asset registers and controls on physical assets.

Carefully consider any sale. Equipment may end up costing you more in the future if replacements become limited or more expensive.

If you decide to sell, you should seek the best terms that can reasonably be obtained and be confident that selling these goods is in your charity's best interests.

Always identify if you’ are selling goods to those (someone or ana person, group or entity) closely connected to the charity or its trustees – for example, a family member or business partner of a trustee or a senior manager.

These are known as 'related parties'. You must make sure all conflicts of interest are managed. You may need to include disclosures in your annual accounts depending on what’s sold and how much they sell for.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 30 October 2023

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