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This paper explores what is meant by core funding, how they are used and what are their potential advantages as well as disadvantages, which goes some way to explaining the lack of wider adoption. It describes and analyses practices in core funding: selection and proposal development, the thorny issue of measuring their impact and lessons learned in how to apply them. Finally, it looks at the issue from the recipient perspective – how to extract the most benefit from this most sought-after of funding types. The conclusion is that core grants, when properly employed can be transformative.