Basic Fund-Raising for Small NGOs/Civil Society in the Developing World

Published by Coyote Communications

Revised 17 August 2010

Some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) to online forums for community-based organizations (CBOs) in developing countries, whatever the subject, are regarding funding, particularly grants.

In addition, the first impulse of many such non-governmental organization (NGO) 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, rather than garnering support. Not only does it rarely attract funding, it can turn funding sources against the NGO altogether.

With all this in mind, I drafted basic tips for fund-raising for such organizations. I am offering my own significantly-revised version of the document for free to any who ask for it. When I began offering it more than a year ago, it was 15 pages long; now, it is 27 pages. It is a PDF file.

The document is meant to provide very basic guidelines for small NGOs in the developing world regarding fund-raising and adhering to the basic principles of good governance, and to point to other resources. By small NGOs, I mean organizations that may have only one paid staff member, or are run entirely by volunteers; and may or may not have official recognition by the government. These organizations are extremely limited in their resources, and are often in unstable environments and/or serving profoundly poor populations.

Please note that this document is NOT written for nonprofits serving the "developed" world -- organizations serving communities in North America, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand or Japan would probably not find this document particularly helpful, as it has been prepared to make recommendations relevant for nonprofits serving in a developing country.

THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT A LIST OF FUNDERS/DONORS.

Let me repeat that: THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT A LIST OF FUNDERS/DONORS.

It is, instead, a set of guidelines on how to prepare an organization to be attractive to donors, how to search for potential donors that support organizations in the developing world and how to approach such potential donors.

The document includes:

-A list of activities an NGO should NEVER do regarding fund-raising
-How to network and establish credibility to insure fund-raising success
-The absolute essential preparations to solicit donations
-What to do before making a funding request
-Establishing credibility and a reputation of integrity, transparency and accountability
-How to find donors & make contact
-A warning about fund-raising scams
-Online resources for further information
-Online resources for detailed tips on writing funding proposals

Once you have received this document, please do NOT distribute the document via a web site or on an online discussion group without my written permission. I frequently update the document, and want to ensure people are getting the most recent version.

Suggestions for improvements to this document are welcomed, particularly from NGOs in the developing world.

Want to adapt the document? You are welcomed to translate it into another language, edit it, change it, and republish it or distribute it, per certain requirements, detailed in the document itself.

The version currently available is dated August 17, 2010. If the document is updated, a notice will be posted to the page you are reading now, as well as to my blog.

You can access the document either by contacting me via email, or, by subscribing to my newsletter, Tech4Impact (it's free to subscribe); the latest version of the document is in a private online area accessible only to subscribers.

To order the document via email, please contact me with

-your full name
-the organization you represent
-your city and country
-the developing country/countries your organization supports
-details on how you found out about this document
-a pledge that you will NOT post this document to a web site or network without first asking my permission and ensuring you have the latest version.

Your information will not be sold, traded or given to any other organization as a result of your submitting this information.

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