What is full cost recovery?

Full cost recovery means ensuring your organisation recovers the full cost of delivering a service or project. Full cost recovery is a process. The aim is to find out the whole cost of projects or services.

Remember that:

  • The aim is to recover “core costs” e.g. rent or heating/ lighting costs that relate to the project or service.
  • Funders have different definitions of “core” and “project” costs so always check the guidance.
  • Working out your full costs is the first step. Finding a funder or funders, prepared to pay the full amount may take time and you will probably need to look at more than just grants, for example fundraising from the public, trading or contracts (as appropriate).
  • To recover all its costs, your group may need to widen its range of funding options to include more than just grant funding.

Also make sure that if you are sharing costs between projects or funders:

  • The method of working out costs is robust and based on real life expenditure and activity (see sharing costs).
  • Calculations (called working papers) and evidence are kept to back up claimed costs with your funding records.

Help for your group

WYCAS can help your group do a full cost recovery analysis. The Community Accountant for Bradford District is Rhys North, email Rhys.North@wycas.org.uk or telephone 07891 333030. There is a useful factsheet in the WYCAS good practice guides about full cost recovery.


WYCAS runs a number of different courses, including full cost recovery.

training calendar is available on the Community Action website. It includes details of full cost recovery workshops taking place in Bradford district.

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