Funder Plus

Funder Plus is an approach taken by funders to go ‘beyond the money’ with grantees (small charities and social enterprises). Our Funder Plus programmes offer additional support to help grantees build capacity, leadership and resilience.

The problem

The past ten years have been particularly challenging for small and medium-sized charities. They are facing three interlacing challenges:

Money icon saying less funding with down arrow, people icon with up arrow saying demand growing, hands icons saying less support with up arrow


  1. Less funding. Small charities’ overall income decreased by 20% over the last decade. Meanwhile, major and super-major charities have seen income increase by 30%.
  2. Demand growing. Funding for public services has been dramatically cut. Council spending per person has fallen by 23% per since 2010. There is more pressure on small charities to support society’s most vulnerable people.
  3. Less support. Many infrastructure organisations that used to support the voluntary sector have had their capacity cut, or have disappeared entirely.

How charities are responding

Charities are increasingly pursuing earned income as a solution. 

Growth in income from earned sources among UK voluntary sector organisations:

Graph showing income from earned sources: 2011/12 shows £9.8bn, while 2016/17 shows £11.5bn

But small charities often lack the expertise, networks and capacity to act entrepreneurially and to build sustainability. This is where SSE come in…

How SSE can support small charities

We work with funders to help their grantees transition to trading and sustainability. Our Funder Plus programmes apply the expertise we have developed over the past 22 years.

We help small charities learn how to:

  • Build resilience
  • Build capacity 
  • Diversify income
  • Enhance leadership skills
  • Improve governance 
  • Develop impact measurement
Five people on chairs looking forwards and smiling, some with notebooks

Charity CEOs and social entrepreneurs learn in cohorts at SSE, developing vital support networks while strengthening their leadership skills

Who we work with

Over the past five years, SSE has worked with a range of funders to deliver Funder Plus programmes for their grantees, including:

Logos: Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Rank Foundation, Mercers Company

We tailor support, depending on the needs of the funder and grantees. We have delivered: cohort-based learning blocks, Action Learning Sets, 1:1 consultancy and specialist guidance.

“We have been running leadership and sustainability courses through SSE for the last five years, the participants highly value the course and provide consistently outstanding feedback, much of which is unsolicited. SSE is an excellent partner to work with, they really understand the context of the charities we fund and support them to gain the confidence needed to further develop their charities.”
Harriet Stranks, director of grants, Lloyds Bank Foundation

Our approach works

We have run a Funder Plus programme with Lloyds Bank Foundation since 2015. Over the past two years:

Bubble infographic showing: 94% of grantees improved leadership skills; 89% of grantees increased confidence about developing sustainable business model

Lloyds Bank Foundation recently published analysis of their Funder Plus support. It highlighted the importance of the SSE partnership, emphasising the value of:

  • Investing in leaders – “through peer-to-peer support, confidence building, networks and skills development, the impact of investing in a leader on the rest of the organisation can be transformational.”
  • Supporting income diversification – there is high demand for this type of support among grantees, with more grantees experiencing positive outcomes for ‘income diversification’ than any other area of support.

To find out how Funder Plus could support your grantees, contact Francis on [email protected] or 0207 089 9120.