Find out what delivering public services means and if you can get funding from public sector organisations.
Public sector organisations commission, plan, fund and support public services. Some charities and organisations run projects and activities that make up those services. Public sector organisations include central government or local government, the NHS, the Police. They can include housing organisations or the prison service.
Here are some examples of activities that are often included in public services.
If you deliver any of these kinds of services you can look for public funding for your work.
Most of the public sector organisations use a process called commissioning. This is how they plan what services they need and how they’re going to give out the funding needed. It considers what projects and activities will make up those services. Groups and organisations can influence this process by providing information. They can speak on behalf of people that they help.
Sign up to receive email updates from NCVO
Most commissioning leads to contracts. Charities and social enterprises compete with other businesses to win those contracts. More than half of all charities get some of their income in contracts for public services. More and more small and medium sized organisations are getting funding in this way. Some organisations form groups who bid for contracts together (consortia). Some larger organisations sub-contract smaller ones to supply specialist services.
There is lots of terminology involved. You’ll hear phrases such as tenders, procurement, bidding. The exact process and how complicated it is depends on the amount of money available. But you don’t have to know all the details to get started
Each local area works in a different way. They have different timetables, different online platforms for applications and different reporting arrangements. They’ll often have forums or meetings to talk to organisations. Local government and the NHS are expected to support local groups and organisations. They should make it easier for you to get involved. We recommend making local connections as your first step.
Some commissioning processes give out money in grants instead of contracts. They have application processes just like other grants.
Organisations working in social care should make sure they understand direct payments. When someone needs carer support their local authority will assess their needs. The authority can provide the support or give the person direct payments. With direct payments the person can buy their own support.
Social prescribing is a way for GPs and nurses to refer people with health issues to local services. The services are non-clinical. They could include the services you run.
The amount of social prescribing happening is different in different areas. It isn’t yet a quick and easy way to get activities funded across the country. It is growing in importance in health care. It’s useful to stay up to date with it if your projects and activities improve people's mental or physical health.
Last reviewed: 17 November 2020Help us improve this content
Find funding opportunities from the Directory of Social Change database and access 8,000 funders giving over £8bn
NCVO offers a range of training options including live online, face-to-face classroom, eLearning and live webinar events
My Funding Central is a database of grant funding and social investment sources and is available to organisations with an annual income below £1m
Our latest blog posts on funding
Guidance to help you think about your funding planning
Introduction to lots of fundraising methods including digital fundraising
Find out about the different organisations that can help you
Basic guidance and top tips and tricks for finding grants
We have six articles that can help you prepare for your first grant application
Get regular updates on NCVO's help, support and services