For several decades, I have worked for people from grassroots organizations and local NGOs who are always in need of resources to jumpstart or expand their initiative. There are so many international funders or groups who are also calling out for proposals all year round . The sad thing about it is that these opportunities are usually seized by national and international NGOs, while the local NGOs and grassroot groups are left out. An important skill that women change leader must develop is the ability to access funds or support. Gaining insight from my experience of helping groups gain access to resources, here are my tips for those who are looking for support:
1. Make a compelling story. People always support an idea that excites them. If you have a project needing support, sit down and make a compelling story why your project should be supported. You may have to start with an visual mapping that shows what are the problems that you or your group is trying to address, what are the opportunities, what have you done so far and what is the idea of the project. Then proceed with what are the objectives of your proposed project, the expected outcome and how are you going to implement it.You may need to hire a professional writer to refine what you or your group has developed.
2. People give to people. Funding organizations have development agenda and priorities . But how come one project is supported while the other is not? It is because the people who decide what gets funded, have their own preference and network of friends in the NGO community.They give support to one NGO because they are more comfortable or they trust the people behind the organization. Thus, it is important to build friendships and connections. We must always be on the lookout for opportunity to network or touchbase with people who share our interest, passion or work. We should come up with a list of friends who are either working for an INGO or a funding group. Make appointment or send a letter of inquiry.
3. Matching your need with the funders’ priorities. Do your homework. Spend time to research online on groups that share similar perspective or priorities with you. You may search the internet using key thematic words like environment, girls and education. You need to study the organization especially their interests and priorities. Take note of the time of the year they make their call for proposals.Subscribe to them so that you could be immediately updated for any call for proposal. Aside from international groups, look up to the different government agencies in your country. Because they have a mandate, they have funds for technology or facility or for a livelihood training. You may start by visiting their office and asking for the requirements.
4.Be accountable. Nothing disappoints a funding partner when you cannot deliver the report as per agreed. Be conscious of regularly sending reports and accompanying photos. As development professionals, we must develop a strong sense of accountability by making sure the funds are used according to the agreed purposes and activities. Since funders are also accountable to their board or community, they really need to have access to excellent documentations which they can also use when they are engaged in annual fundraising.
5. Build relationship. Accessing resources is about building and maintaining a living and growing network of support. Aside from relating them during formal donor activities, take time to get to know the project staff better. What motivates them? What sustains them? Be sincere in your dealings with them. Be transparent also with problems that could affect your group’s ability to deliver the results. But when sharing about a problem related to project implementation, be also prepared to share what you have been doing with regards to the problem.
With these tips, we can now proceed to take the necessary steps towards accessing funds.You may have to be prepared with rejection.And another rejection But let this not discourage you. Write. Connect. Keep asking. Keep trying!