Ideas for how grantees can acknowledge unrestricted funding

By Hannah Kowszun 4 October 2023 3 minute read

In this blog, Hannah Kowszun, Head of Fundraising at NPC, highlights the importance of celebrating unrestricted and core funding in a way that demonstrates how essential it can be for grantees, and shares a few ideas on how to do so. 

For charities, unrestricted funding and funding for core costs is absolute gold dust. 

And yet, the practice of publicly acknowledging funding tends to favour donors and funders who fund specific projects, events and activities – since they are often thanked as part of these projects, events and activities. Or there is little distinction in external communications between those that fund generally and those that fund specifically. 

Behind the scenes, funders and donors that will fund core costs are valued highly, with whole threads in fundraising forums dedicated to sharing intel on who is more likely to fund in this way. 

So why do we not celebrate these funders and donors more publicly? 

This was expressed in a recent post on X, previously known as Twitter, by Bridget Kohner of Pears Foundation. 

As a funder that gives the majority of its funding unrestricted, Pears Foundation is understandably interested in seeing how this support is acknowledged. As Bridget suggests in her post, by celebrating this type of support will it inspire other funders and donors to give in this way?  

NPC is a strong advocate for unrestricted funding, balanced against responsible due diligence and meaningful reporting. 

In a recent guest blogpost, Funding for Real Change, an initiative set up by Ariadne and EDGE Funders Alliance in 2022, suggested that restricted funding is partly responsible for the nonprofit starvation cycle. Funding for Real Change aims to change funder behaviour, and it’s not the only initiative focused on influencing the philanthropic side of the equation.  

However, there is a role that recipient charities can play in this endeavour: by emphasising the immense value that unrestricted funding provides, gilding the lily of thanks, such that funders and donors can experience the extrinsic value of their support. 

Here are a few ideas for how your organisation could highlight and celebrate any unrestricted and core funding that you receive: 

  1. A hero panel on your website acknowledgement page, where unrestricted and core funders and donors appear prominently and, importantly, first. 
  2. A section in your Annual Report which highlights unrestricted/core funders and donors, or the use of text formatting (such as bold text or asterisks) to help them stand out. 
  3. Mentioningand thankingyour unrestricted and core funders and donors at events and special occasions, especially if any of them are in the room. 
  4. Celebrating your unrestricted and core funders and donors through communications channels such as blog posts and social media posts. 
  5. Letting prospective funders and donors know the greater value that unrestricted funding can provide with case studies and examples that tell an inspiring story.

What do you think, have I missed anything obvious? What do you do to acknowledge unrestricted and core funding? 


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