Fundraising by Trading Goods and Services

Community and voluntary organisations seeking more sustainable alternatives to grant funding often take the option of earning income by selling goods and/or services, bidding for contracts and making money from investments.

The best known form of trading for fundraising purposes is the charity shop; however, organisations trade in ever increasing areas and often compete with the private sector to market goods and services. Many organisations deliver services through Service Level Agreements or Contracts with the public sector - most typically in the field of Healthcare.

Other earned income to community and voluntary organisations comes through investments such as those organisations with a large capital endowment.

Earned income can be a valuable source of unrestricted, independent income and a real means of supporting organisational independence and growth.

Earning can be done by either trading on the open market or entering into contracts to deliver services (earning through the structured market).

Approaches to generating earned income include:

  • Core related trading (selling things related to your organisation's aims and mission)
  • Cost recovery (charging users a minimal fee)
  • Contracting (providing specified services via a contractual agreement)
  • Social firms (involving service users in income generation)
  • Unrelated trading (selling things purely for profit, including property based development)

Earning may require lateral thinking about what your organisation does, who it does it for, and what it could sell to generate income. There are also issues to consider before starting to earn, and earning may not be for everyone. Nevertheless, there is further support available and, for those organisations for whom earning is an option, earned income can be a big step towards sustainability.

For more information:

Irish Charities Shops Association – a member organisation formed to support charities who operate shops in Ireland as part of their fundraising activities. By pooling expertise and joining forces to promote common interests, they help members to run their shops more effectively and efficiently.