If you are like me, a professional working in the development sector, then ‘Fundraising’ is the one of the most dreaded words at your work place. Even though most of the work in this sector depends on funding from external sources, fundraising often takes a back seat for most of the civil society and community based organisations. This activity is carried out only once the existing resources need to be replenished and are no longer sufficient to support the functions of the organization in contrast to a yearlong activity to raise funds.
Fundraising for a Non-governmental organisation (NGO) present several challenge especially if you are a new organisation. The track records of successfully implemented and budgeted projects are absent and this makes it difficult to gain trust of foundations, governments or corporates.
Currently based out of a local foundation, I am attempting to understand the problem from the other side of the table. Mainly what motivates one to give to one project/ organization over another. Most of us when we go back home, working with grassroots initiatives feel that there is a great potential in the grassroots organisations. There is a need to harness the skills of these organisations, in an attempt to not only empower the most marganalised but also help in contributing to the social issues like ending poverty or improving health status to name but a few.
This is what I have gathered about fundraising so far from my fellowship. Fundraising is more like marketing or networking with the right people at the right time. At grassroots level networking/marketing is something we understand relatively more clearly as we use our networks with communities, government structures in our day to day project implementation. (Using our marketing skills to influence our networks in supporting implementation) Now networking or marketing are not as scary as fundraising, but in our minds it is often not the same. The mere word ‘Fundraising’ is what makes it scary. If we were to remove this word -Fundraising from our minds then we would also remove the fear associated with it. This does not mean that the problem of funds will also disappear, that we still need to tackle but in a more confident manner. The human mind is mysterious, if we start believing that this word is not as scary, then our mental block that hamper us from effectively working to achieve our goals also would disappear).
The big foundations (Yes Foundations, as in Donor organisations) or multinational NGO’s (Like CARE, Mercy Corps) also face the same issues like any other smaller scale organisation. The only difference is they plan and work around raising funds on a day to day basis, unlike community based organisation (CBOs) or Grasssroots initiatives. There is often a separate team working solely for raising funds for various projects. Some hold annual conferences followed by a Gala, to showcase their work and to raise funds from people invested in their work.
3 Tips that I found Useful for fundraising:
1) This is an obvious one, efforts towards fundraising should be a year round activity rather than a once a year or once in couple of years activity. This helps suitability of projects and continuous works in the field.
- Preparing a yearly fund raising calendar. This I found was extremely helpful for me, in my previous organisation. It helps you streamline and preparing a detailed work plan for fundraising for the year. This also helps in identification of various sources of funding and planning approaches for each source.
- Identification of top 5 foundations/Grantors in the field you work, analysis of their funding cycles for past 3 years and planning for approaching the same in next cycles. For Example: In the field of Health SRH: Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation etc.
- The CSR departments of various multinational corporations have a predefined areas of investment and work,preparing a list of top 5 MNC, understanding their philosophy and approaching them in a planned manner. For Example: Supporting Economic Opportunities for Adolescent Girls: Coca Cola: 5by 20 campaign, Mastercard Foundation independent foundation of MasterCard Worldwide.
2) Using Social Media for raising funds in an effective and cost efficient manner. There are various Crowdfunding or crowdsourcing platforms on the internet that can be used for raising awareness and funds for the projects of the organisations. For Example: Most popular crowdfunding websites- Kickstarter Campaign, Indigogo and Crowfunder.
Other Websites include: Global Giving
Most of these are easy to navigate websites, and provide assistance in setting up a campaign and organisation page. The Infographic below helps you in choosing the ideal crowdfunding platform for your organisation. (I found it informative and helpful, hence sharing it!)
3) With limited human resources, most of the organisations cannot afford an additional staff for tracking prospective funding opportunities in the field. Hence registering for news and updates with websites like Ngobox (Indian), Samhita (Indian), Fundsforngos (Global), helps you in receiving weekly updates on different grants and other competitive opportunities currently available and with brief requirement of the same. This would be supporting the existing staff in efficiently managing other task and tracking potential funding opportunities.