Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Basic Tips for Fund-raising for Small NGOs in Developing Countries" by: Jane Cravens

I recently came across another article by Jayne Cravens entitled "Basic Tips for Fund-raising for Small NGOs in Developing Countries" and thought that it is so great, I wanted to share it. The article is 15-pages long, so it is not reprinted here in its entirety but the latest version can be found at: www.coyotecommunications.com/outreach/.

The Problem

The work of CBOs & NGOs in developing countries is vital to millions of people. However,fund-raising for these organizations is particularly difficult, for numerous reasons:

o There is often great competition among numerous local groups for scarce local
financial resources.

o International funders are reluctant to fund community-based NGOs "directly", because of a perception of lack of accountability, difficulty in establishing credible references, practical issues with resource transfers, and numerous tax questions.

o Some community-based organizations lack what donors regard as the necessary prerequisite structure for being able to process donations, financial or otherwise. For many organizations, this becomes a "Catch 22": resources would permit the necessary administrative changes to become more donor rule-compliant, but they cannot get those resources without making the changes.

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Fund-raising First Step - Networking & Establishing Credibility

Many funders want to know that a CBO or NGO is credible before they will even reply to an organization's request for funding. Establishing credibility doesn't take money - it takes time, effort and personal attention.

As noted earlier, the first impulse of many CBOs or NGOs seeking funding is to request the contact information for possible funders, and once such information is received, these NGOs often write immediately to the potential funder, stressing how desperately funds are needed. Sadly, this approach often harms the NGO's reputation, rather than garnering support. Not only does it rarely attract funding, it can turn funding sources against the NGO altogether.

The activity to start with for successful fund-raising is networking: establish relationships -- formal or informal -- with local NGOs and representatives from International NGOs, local UN offices, large employers in the area, etc. If someone were to approach any of these agencies and institutions and ask about your organization, the answers should obviously demonstrate that these other organizations know what your CBO or NGO is, why it is important, and some of the good things it has done. Having such good local relationships means its more likely for these situations to occur:

o your CBO or NGO may be able to collaborate with these organizations and institutions and, therefore, receive funding o when funding becomes available for an activity your CBO or NGO undertakes, these organizations will contact you and let you know.

To network, start locally, with:

o local reporters or local media outlets (newspaper, radio, etc.)

o large employers in your area

o local UN offices (UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, ITU, etc.)

o local offices for International NGOs with excellent reputations with donors, such as OneWorld, Save the Children, Oxfam, World Vision, MercyCorps, and Doctors Without Borders (this is by no means a comprehensive list)

o local CBOs and NGOs

o local communities of faith

o local universities

o international volunteers serving in your geographic area

o any associations in your area (such as associations for small businesses, associations of women farmers -- such associations can be formally or informally-organized)

o local embassies or consulates

o local and regional government offices

Meet face-to-face with these people, whenever possible, to let them know what your CBO or NGO is doing -- do not emphasize what your organization needs but, rather, the good work that it is doing, and why the organization believes its mission is important, even essential, to the area. Invite representatives of these organizations to visit your organization and see your work first hand -- invite them more than once! If you can, give them printed information about your organization. And people representing your CBO or NGO should attend their events and accept their invitations too!

By doing this, you will lay the groundwork for funding! You will greatly increase your chances of receiving resources if you engage in these networking and reputationbuilding activities.

Even better is if this networking can lead to formal associations/affiliations with other local CBOs, NGOs, International NGOs, or UN agencies in your area, in the form of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), collaborative activities or shared resources. Potential funders view all such associations very favorably when considering who to fund.

But remember -- when networking initially, do NOT ask for funds, nor describe your organization as desperate for support. The purpose of networking is to establish your organizations reputation for excellent, quality work, and to create a network of organizations and people who will verify to others that your organization is legitimate, credible and worth supporting.

Even More Credibility-Building

The aforementioned networking tips should help build up the reputation of your CBO or NGO, but there is more that you can do, if you have the resources to do such. Some of the following activities may not be possible in your geographic area, or, you may not have the funds to engage in these activities:

o Membership in formal networks and associations -- If your country or region has a network or association of CBOs or NGOs, you should be a member. You can find these by contacting other local organizations to find out if such exists, or searching on the Internet for such.

o Excellent online profile -- If you type your organization's name into www.google.com what happens? Does your organization's web site come up (if you have such)? What about an online document by an International NGO or UN agency that references your organization? Or a newspaper article highlighting your organization's work? Or your listing on a site such as www.onlinevolunteering.org ? Anything negative come up? An online profile adds to your organization's credibility, and many potential funders, if they receive a proposal from you, will "Google" your organization's name, as well as the name of the leader of the organization, to see what comes up. Also, post relevant information that can help others at www.developmentgateway.org , www.eldis.org and www.comminit.com . If you involve volunteers, write about how they help your CBO and NGO (especially how they help those you serve, NOT how they save you money), and submit your story to www.worldvolunteerweb.org . Even doing these activities just once every year will help greatly expand your online reputation, and increase the chance of your getting noticed by potential funders.

o A clear, complete, easy-to-use web site -- It's not essential that your organization have a web site in order to attract funding, but it will help in your efforts if you do.
If your organization has a web site, it should be:

o free of advertising for for-profit companies

o free of misspellings

o well-designed; simple and without lots of cumbersome graphics

o accessible via a variety of different types of web browsers

o complete, with a listing of your staff, your board of directors, your organization's address, contact information, and at least a summary of your organization's budget.

o Academic profile -- It's not essential, but it will certainly add greatly to your organization's credibility if it has been referred to in a university-related paper. Ofcourse, it's not always possible to say yes to participation in an academic research project, given your other priorities. But your organization should try, whenever possible and when asked, to participate, as such will add to the appearance of your organization as transparent and credible to anyone investigating your organization for such.

Again, these activities may not be possible in your geographic area, or, you may not have the funds to engage in these activities. Potential funders will understand, for instance, if your CBO or NGO cannot have a web site because your resources are so limited; they will not, however, accept "limited resources" as an excuse for a web site riddled with errors, or as an excuse for negative stories about your organization online.

1 comment:

Mary M. said...

Hi Oscar,
this article is really good, it's answered many of the questions that have had for the last few months.
Check me out on

thanks for your post.