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Sustainable Funding Guide

Having several independent income streams is one of the most effective ways to ensure sustainable funding for your organisation. That way, if something unexpected happens with one funding avenue, you always have another one in place to support you through.

7 Key Income Streams

There are 7 Key Income Streams available for community groups and non-profit organisations, and it is important to use as many as possible if you want to remain sustainable. It doesn’t matter that some income streams will be stronger than others, what is important is that you have additional funding support in place.

The 7 Key Income Streams available for non-profit organisations are as follows:

1. Membership

Depending on the type of organisation you are involved with, this income stream could be referred to as membership, subscriptions, or user pays. Membership is where a person pays to belong to a specific club or group of people, and as a result, receives specific services, benefits or privileges.

You may like to include some of the following in your membership package:

  • Regular newsletters or publications

  • Discounted rates for your products or services

  • Use of your facilities or equipment

  • Invitations to members-only events

  • Discounts at affiliated stores or organisations

  • Pre-release tickets or premium seating at events

  • Access to a special area of your website or social media group

When generating income through membership consider the following:

  • Charge a reasonable membership fee

  • Review your membership fees annually

  • Make it easy for people to pay

  • Allow for extra donations at the time of fee payment

  • Keep track of who has paid and who hasn't

  • Increase your membership numbers

2. Traditional Fundraising Activities

Traditional Fundraising Activities are activities that are organised for the primary purpose of raising extra funds. These activities usually rely on member or client involvement and do not necessarily relate to the services you offer.

  • They are a great way to get some publicity

  • They give you a chance to engage face-to-face with potential supporters

  • They provide tangible opportunities for your sponsors

  • They provide a great opportunity to develop team spirit and member connection

3. Donations

The definition of a donation is ‘a gift’. This means a donation is made out of kindness and the donor expects nothing in return. Donations are not necessarily monetary; you can also receive donations of time, products, services or resources.

In order for someone to make a donation to your cause they must first:

  • Know you exist

  • Have a physical or emotional connection to your cause

  • Trust your organisation will use their gift effectively

  • Be given the opportunity to ‘give’

  • Know that their ‘gift’ will be acknowledged

Help to build your donor relationships through:

  • The use of cards or gifts made by your clients or members

  • Recording photographs of your project or service in action

  • Creating a thank you video

  • Telling stories

  • Inviting the donors to specific events

  • Maintaining a personal relationship

4. Sponsorship

The definition of sponsorship is ‘to assume responsibility for.’ This means that a party (usually a business) provides you with time, money or resources, which shows they are as interested in the success of the project as you are. Sponsorship requires a contract, and is given in return for specific expectations.

When creating your sponsorship package, think past logos and acknowledgements, to find ways your sponsors can really interact with your audience. Use these ideas to start your thinking:

  • Make signage changeable

  • Provide opportunities for a regular column

  • Allow sponsors a chance to talk about their business

  • Make use of social media

In identifying a potential sponsor, you should consider the following:

  • Who would want exposure to your market?

  • Who do I have a personal connection with?

  • Who already trusts our organisation?

  • Who has similar values and beliefs?

  • Who has the capacity to support you?

5. Entrepreneurial Activities & Social Enterprise

An entrepreneurial activity or social enterprise is when your community group/organisation sells a product or service using a traditional business model. These activities are not your core business, but they do make use of your existing resources, and often add value to your current member base.

Some good examples of non-profit organisations using an enterprise model include:

  • Second hand or ‘Op Shops’ operated by various social service organisations

  • Schools selling school uniforms or stationery for a small profit

  • Sports clubs selling personal first aid kits for players

  • Organisations hiring out clubrooms or facilities

  • Hiring out equipment such as projectors or gazebos

  • Charging other organisations for the use of your photocopier

If possible your community group could create saleable products or resources which are unique to you. In creating these products you need to consider:

  • What expertise is within your community group/organisation?

  • How could you package that knowledge and those skills into a saleable product?

  • What unique experiences can you capture to create a saleable ‘memory’?

6. Contracts

In the non-profit arena, a contract is where a party (usually a government department) contracts your community group/organisation to provide a specific service or programme, and pays you for doing so.

You can find a full list of available government contracts on the Government Electronic Tender Service website It is possible to simply browse the site, however given the amount of contracts listed it is useful to register online to receive regular updates. In the registration process you will be asked to specify your skills and expertise, so that only relevant contacts are emailed to you.

7. Grants/Community Funding

A grant is something given to you by an organisation, whereby the money is to be used for a specific purpose. Your community group applies to funding bodies for specific projects, or costs, and you are accountable for where and how you spend the money.

In order for the application to be considered, it must:

  • Meet the funders’ criteria

  • Be submitted on time

  • Be complete

Leafcutter's top tips for funding applications:

  • Submit your application early

  • Treat your funding application like a job application

  • Highlight the need in your community and provide evidence

  • Make sure your project is providing the funder value for money

  • Show you have community support

  • Be upfront and accountable

  • Think of your funders as people, not cheque books


It is one thing to choose which stream you will use, it is another to decide HOW you will use it. Feel free to drop us a line if you require a sustainable funding plan. We will use our expertise to create your non-profit organisation/community group a sustainable funding strategy that your committee, employee, or voluntary members can follow and implement.

Supporting ambitious New Zealand businesses and NFP organisations to thrive - below providing examples of Leafcutter Business Support 'Sustainable Funding Plan' for Te Kura O Take Kārara

Sustainable funding plan NFP
An example of our Sustainable Funding Plan

Outdoor learning spaces nz
Funding sourced for shared outdoor learning spaces

Regular fundraising activities take place
Donation of time, products and services from local businesses & organisations

Local businesses contributed time, money & resources for planter boxes & fruit tees
Diversifying into social enterprise revenue stream

Find out more about the funding & grant writing services we offer and our pricing packages to suit all budgets.


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