Bristol have made a public plea for vital new investment as they attempt to raise an additional £2.5million a year.
The Guinness Premiership's bottom club already operate at a £1million annual loss, a shortfall that has been covered by a small group of investors.
Bristol expect those losses to rise this year due to the credit crunch and a 20% drop in attendances.
Chief executive Steve Gorvett warned Bristol need significant investment if they are to survive in the Premiership and challenge for top honours.
"If we want to compete at the top end of the league and bring Heineken Cup rugby here again we need to have the funding in place," said Gorvett.
"We are talking to several groups about new funding, including some of our current investors, but in simple terms we need to find an additional £2million to £2.5million a year to compete.
"The board believe that by raising the public awareness that we are looking for investment, a new group may come forward. Our over-riding interest is securing the best future for Bristol."
Bristol spend £1million less than other clubs on their playing squad and were consequently against increasing the Premiership salary cap this season from £3million to £4million.
Their financial problems this season stem from a combination of the difficult economic environment and a string of poor results. Bristol finally secured their first Premiership win of the season against Northampton last weekend.
Gorvett revealed Bristol are not alone in suffering "the pinch" from the current economic crisis, with estimates placing combined losses for the 12 Guinness Premiership clubs this year at "between £12m and £20m".
London Scottish recently struck a £500,000 three-year deal with Saudex Global, a company backed by the Saudi royal family.
The market for investors could become increasingly competitive following the decision last week to transform National League One into a fully-professional Championship.Reuse content