22 July 2016 Funding – this is a topic that comes up again and again in every organization. Even if you have funding for the next couple of years, you still need to think about where your future funding will come from. In many small organizations, it is a daily worry.
There have been changes in recent years, including:
Which organizations are funding marine conservation and research,
What type of projects are being funded – and for how long, and
How people are donating to non-profits.
It is good to review your basic fundraising situation. Here are a couple of things to think about.
Does your organization have a strategy? Does your board of directors or advisors actively help define the strategy? When was the last time that it was updated?
Board members often contribute to the organization they serve. More important, they should be willing to use their network to help you gain access to other sources of funding.
Depending on the type of work your organization is involved in, you may use one or a mix of the following types of funding:
- Private Donors
- Corporate Donors
- Research Funding
- Volunteers who pay for training and/or the experience
- Sales of products like T-shirts or tickets to events
Each has a “cost” and a potential “benefit.” Use realistic numbers to make the calculations of your options. The best options and the pathway to reach those targets should be part of your organization’s strategy.
Your Funding History
Past donors and grant makers are often your best source of new funding. But in many organizations, there is no written record about past donors.
If you have a record of past donors, that is great. Update it and review it! If you do not have a record of past donors, now is the time to start. Make a list of the large donors from the past 5 – 8 years.
Identify Potential Funders
You should make a table of potential new or repeat donors and grant makers for your organization. Go through your list of past funders and think about who or which organization might be willing to fund your association or research projects again.
A way to find new funders is to look at other organizations that are like yours (country, type, project theme), and see who they are getting money from. This information is often on their websites. To find other organizations like yours, you can try WANGO which is an international listing of NGOs.
Another way is to actively search databases of the funding organizations in different countries around the world. This takes time and effort – especially the first time you do it. On the positive side, the access to the databases is free in many countries.
When your table is done, it is easy to keep it updated. You should do this 2 times a year.
The next step is to prioritise or rank your list of potential funders. One way to do this is to create a list of criteria. Then think about your organization and the information you have about each funder. This is a good exercise to do in a team.
When everyone on the staff is busy in current projects, it is hard to find the time to prepare for the future. (All of us have had this experience!) However, the time you spend now will improve your success in the future.
Are you going to ask individuals to make a donation? Who is going to ask and how? Make sure you have the text of your thank-you mail written before you start asking for donations. If you have a large donor or new donors, you should think about sending handwritten notes signed by the staff.
Are you going to be applying for grants? The application process is often different for each grant maker, but the information they ask for is usually the same. Be sure you have all the CVs of the staff up-to-date. The documents of the legal status of the organization, annual reports, and the lists of past projects, publications, workshops, previous funding organizations, etc. should all stored in a central location. This can save precious time when you need to apply for a grant quickly.
Are you ready to work with a large funding agency like US AID? Then you need read the rules in advance, and often you have to register your organization in advance. The way each agency works is different. The good news is that most of the information is available on the internet.
Go for It!
There has never been a better time to connect with new donors and find new grant makers. The information is more accessible. There are more types of funding for a wider range of organizations. And there are new tools to help you manage. Bon courage! Nasib baik! Bon kaisog!
Resources in the Clubhouse
You will find more detailed tips, tracking documents, and resource lists in the Clubhouse section of the Big Blue Network website. Here are just a couple of examples:
Philanthropy News Digest – Sign up for a free weekly newsletter of “Request for Proposals” (RFPs) of larger organisations working around the world. You can also subscribe to an advanced daily notice by subject and by country.
Charity Register, the web site of the Australian government, lists more than 54,000 charities and has a free search tool.
Swiss Foundations lists the grant-making foundations in registered in Switzerland in French and German.
The UK Charity Commission covers more than 150,000 charities and has a free search tool and statistical data.