An appropriate funding mix

Thinking back to the idea of ‘mission drift’, it is really important that voluntary organisations have the right funding to pay for the things that they want to do to achieve their purpose. Voluntary organisations should start by thinking about what they want to achieve, and then work out which types of funding are the right fit. Usually there will be several options, and for many registered charities the best choice is to raise some money that is unrestricted. This means that the donor or funder hasn’t specified what the money should be spent on and the charity is free to choose how, or when, to spend it. The two methods that raise the most unrestricted income for charities are individual donations (gifts) and selling goods or services (trading).

Having a diverse funding mix also allows charities to have more control over their activities and protects them from any sudden reductions in funding from one source. For example, income from legacies, whilst usually unrestricted, can be hard to predict and uneven: the charity cannot know when the donor will die and the donation be made. A voluntary organisation that is quite reliant on legacies might want to develop a trading idea or a grant-funded project to give the organisation a bit more stability.

Activity 6

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes.
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Figure 5 Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Registered charities must report their income and expenditure to the Charity Commission for England and Wales. This information is made publicly available on the Commission’s website and is a very useful resource for anyone wanting to find out more about a charity’s funding.

  1. In a separate tab or browser window on your computer, open up the Charity Commission website: government/ organisations/ charity-commission [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

  2. Select ‘Search for a charity’ and in the purple charity search box enter ‘Windmill Hill City Farm’ (or other charity of your choice). Click on the organisation name when it comes up. On the charity overview page (at the top of the left-hand menu) you can see their total income and total expenditure.

  3. Click on ‘Financial history’ in the left-hand menu. The financial history bar chart shows their income in the blue bars and expenditure in the orange bars.

  4. Has their income increased or decreased in the last few years?


Windmill Hill City Farm’s income increased from £917,226 in 2011 to £1,326,342 in 2015. This was an impressive increase of over 40%.

If you would like to find out more about Windmill Hill City Farm’s finances you can download their latest accounts from the ‘View accounts’ tab in the left-hand menu and then select the most recent year. These accounts contain a written summary from their Chair of Trustees near the beginning that gives a clear account of the different areas of the charity’s funds. Pages near the end of their accounts contain tables that list their different types of income. In particular, you can see a list of all the grants that they received within that year.