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Planning for financial sustainability


Key discoveries

  • How to assess your financial sustainability and risks
  • How to diversify income and become less dependent on donor income

  • How to finance central support costs

  • How to build financial reserves

  • How to strengthen stakeholder relationships

  • How to build your own financing strategy

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Download or print the full course outline here

Course code: ST1 

For NGO managers, this looks at the more strategic aspects of NGO financial management. Discover the tools and know-how to create a long-term plan for your NGO's financial continuity and security.

"Attending this course is arguably the best decision I have taken this year. As a Programme Manager, it has changed my approach to programme planning and implementation to include financial sustainability practices."

 Also now available as an eWorkshop.


Course costsEarly booking
Standard booking
Individuals, and non-profit organisations with less than £1m income500625
Non-profit organisations more than £1m income625780
For-profit/governmental organisations780975

Who should attend

This course is aimed at policy and strategic decision-makers of small to medium-sized NGOs, including Board members. The course is also suitable for international NGO programme managers who advise local partners on how to plan for financial sustainability.

Previous financial management experience or training is not a requirement for this course although it is advantageous to complete our FMD Pro 1: The essentials of financial management  course first if you are completely new to financial management.

During the course there will be an opportunity to practice key planning tools using your own organisation’s situation, so it is important that you are familiar with your organisation’s strategic objectives and are in a position to implement the learning after the course. The course will have the most effective outcomes if two people from the same organisation are able to attend at the same time.

We recommend that you read this course outline carefully to make sure the content is relevant and meets your learning requirements. If you are not sure if this course is for you, please contact us.

Programme guide

Programme guide

Day 1


Introduction and overview
  • Welcome and introductions
  • Course objectives and programme overview
  • What is financial sustainability and how do we achieve it?
Assessment tools
  • Financial SWOT analysis
  • Stakeholder analysis - the Mendelow Matrix
  • Financial statements – financial ratio and trend analysis
  • Review of the day
Day 2


Mapping income
  • Where do NGOs get their money from?
  • The financing mix matrix
  • Challenges of donor dependency
Risk assessment 
  • Financial risk mapping
  • Financing strategy document
Income policy
  • Resources audit
  • Financing options
  • Charging for services
  • Desired funding mix
  • Review of the day

Day 3

Reserves and targets


  • What are reserves and different types of reserves
  • What level of reserves?
  • Generating reserves
  • Reserves policy
  • Central support costs policy and apportioning costs
  • Ethical policy and unrestricted funds policy
Action planning
  • Stakeholder action plan
  • Next steps for your financing strategy
  • Certificates and close

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Carry out a financial risk assessment using selected analysis and mapping tools to identity critical threats facing their or partner NGOs
  • Analyse income to identify their or partner NGOs’ current and desired financing mix
  • Analyse financial statements using financial ratios to assess the donor dependency and reserves status of their or partner NGOs’ current and desired financing mix
  • Carry out a resources audit to establish the potential for alternative financing options in their or partner NGOs
  • Create an action plan for the next steps to finalise their financing strategy.
  • Describe the four key features of a financially sustainable NGO
  • Describe the components of a financing strategy for an NGO
  • Explain why it is important to have diversified income in an NGO
  • Outline options for building up unrestricted reserve funds to create a safety net and support future development
  • Outline options for financing and managing central support costs across the organisation
  • Recognise that being highly donor dependent makes NGOs more vulnerable to external threats
  • Appreciate the importance of managing key stakeholder relationships
  • Gain confidence to take forward the design of a financing strategy for their organisation as a collaborative effort.

Course dates

There are no up-and-coming courses in the open training programme.

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