At CAF we know how important it is for charities to diversify their income streams. In 2017 we worked with Empty Homes to identify different ways they could generate funds. 


Empty Homes was established in 1992 to try to ensure that empty homes in England are brought back into use for those in housing need. They have built their reputation not only as a campaigning charity, but also in developing practical ideas on how to bring empty homes back into use.

Row of houses


Like a number of charities, Empty homes, had relied solely upon grants from foundations for a number of years. They were aware that going forward this would not be a sustainable model so they put out to tender an opportunity to undertake a business review for them. 

'CAF stood out at the interview as having a team that understood the challenges we face as a small charity with experience of exploring a range of options for diversifying income. The team were great to work with – spending time to get to understand what we did and what might work for us, while making sure the project progressed to plan’. 
 Helen Williams, Chief Executive, Empty Homes


Our charity consultancy team won the tender in June 2017 and they worked closely with the executive and Trustees over 4 months.

Initially we undertook a scoping exercise to find out what makes Empty Homes tick, their strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats they faced as an organisation.
Following this we did an in depth analysis of potential new income streams and business models that they could adopt going forward, benchmarking these against other comparable organisations. We presented the options to the executive and board and they selected two: corporate support and consultancy work.

Our team then drew up an implementation plan for both income streams that went into more depth on the potential cost implications and the return on investment for each stream. These were discussed in detail through a facilitated workshop at the trustee away day and concrete decisions were made for implementing them.


Following our work with Empty Homes their trustees are now more aware that a reliance on grant funding isn’t a sustainable business model and they’ve committed to launching two new activities:

  • a corporate support strategy which will be supported by a new business development role
  • a consultancy service that will generate income through fee-based consultancy. This is a mid-term aspiration that will be implemented if the corporate support strategy shows a healthy return on investment.

These new sources of income have the potential to not only increase their income but to also spread financial risk and  ultimately reduce reliance on traditional sources of voluntary income such as  grant funding – paving the way for a more sustainable future for Empty Homes. 

‘CAF has supported Empty Homes through a crucial period of our existence as we need to diversify our income in order to remain resilient in the mid and long term. CAF worked with the Board and I to explore our options and helped us to focus on the areas that had the best potential to generate more funds. This has given us the basis for developing a business plan with a clearer more strategic focus for generating income and we appreciate how CAF have helped to get us to this point’. 
 Helen Williams, Chief Executive, Empty Homes

Find out more about our charity consultancy service.