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Case Study: Helping to ensure sustainability – developing an income generation strategy for South Downs National Park Authority


The South Downs is the UK’s newest National Park, covering a wide variety of landscapes, historic monuments, archeological features and living, working communities.

Around 2 million people live within or close to the national park – the highest local population among all the national parks – and day visits reach 46 million a year. With such high user numbers, the Authority must maintain a delicate balance between conserving and protecting the unique landscape, promoting opportunities for the public to enjoy it, and fostering the well-being of local communities.



Since its creation in 2010, the SDNPA has been heavily dependent on government funding to carry out its work. But government funding is at increasing risk of cuts across the public sector. To offset this risk, SDNPA decided to explore opportunities to earn or fundraise income from other sources. To help them do this, they asked specialist =mc consultants to work with them to look at the options and to develop a strategy for both voluntary and earned income generation.

=mc’s brief

=mc was asked to do three things:

  • to assess the potential for fundraising, and then develop a strategy and a case for support to use with prospective donors.
  • to assess the potential to generate earned income – what did they have or what could they offer that individual’s and organisations might be interested in paying for?
  • to examine the SDNPA’s ‘readiness’ – the people, processes and skills needed – to take on income generation from new sources, and then to advise on an implementation plan

What we did

We researched income generation in the other national parks, and looked at charities fundraising in the South Downs area as well as national environmental and conservation charities. From this we mapped out the market sectors the SDNPA was planning to enter against the organisation’s own skills and assets, identifying the most cost-effective and least risky opportunities for earned and voluntary income. Through workshops and interviews with staff and members we gained an in-depth understanding of the SDNPA’s work and its importance to all the different communities and interests it serves, and from that created a fundraising case for support. Finally, we drew up strategic recommendations for income generation, and advised on how to implement the new strategy.


The SDNPA have considerable scope for voluntary income generation from their visitor base and local residents, and now have a map to explore this market. With government funding confirmed for four more years, they have time to test and embed new fundraising practices and be ready to scale up. SDNPA is also exploring a selection of earned income ideas, using their assets and relationships to generate additional income where this is cost-effective.

“=mc has helped us explore the whole range of income sources open to us and have guided us towards a clear strategy for action including advising on what we need to do as an organisation to begin generating income from these.”

Hélène Rossiter, Director of Corporate Services, South Downs National Park Authority

What’s next?

To find out how =mc can help transform your fundraising efforts, contact Bernard Ross, Director on or call +44(0)20 7978 1516.

We also run several training programmes available to bring in-house to your organisation which may be of interest:

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