Yes the mission and aims and objectives of your NGO is why you want people to support you. However, for the purposes of fundraising from individuals, you may want to explain or interpret your mission, aims and objectives, so that ordinary people who live in your local community understand in simple terms what you are trying to do and why you need funds. You don’t need to use exactly the same mission statement in your communication to donors as long as what you say means the same thing. The … [Read more...] about Is our NGO’s mission the same thing that we tell donors when fundraising?
Building trust is very important. If your donors don’t trust that their donation is being spent wisely and for the projects they support they are likely to not only stop funding you but also tell others not to fund you. The way you can build trust is to keep in touch with donors regularly and keep them informed of progress and how their money is being spent. Usually a newsletter or personal update once a quarter is sufficient, but the key is to be transparent and above all honest. This means … [Read more...] about What is the most important thing to remember when raising funds from individual donors?
Large charities and NGOs use specialist fundraising software to keep information on large numbers of individual donors. However, if you are a small or medium-size NGO with limited numbers of supporters and contacts, you can still manage these using basic Excel spreadsheets. In the UK, there is now a legal requirement to ask donors if they are happy for their contact details to be kept and unless they agree, you are not allowed to contact them in any form such as letter, email, or telephone. … [Read more...] about How important is it for our NGO to have proper fundraising software? We only have limited funds and would prefer not to have to spend this on IT.
The issue of raising money to support operating costs and staffing has always been challenging for NGOs. If you are applying for funding to a grant-maker, it is important to not under-estimate the hidden costs which should also be included in the budget. For example, rent, rates, IT, utilities, support staff etc. For staff whose salary is to be supported by the grant, then it would be expected that you consider a level of effort for certain roles and budget for these. This might include a … [Read more...] about What is the best way to raise unrestricted income for staff and overheads?
Change management is a difficult aspect of a Director’s job and needs to be handled with sensitivity, especially if you are to take your staff with you rather than create upset and discord. Overall, most people do not like change. They feel threatened by it and often can feel unsettled and insecure because they are entering unknown territory. Basically, managing change is being able to move an organisation forward from its current state to a desired future state. The challenge is that as you … [Read more...] about I am a new Executive Director in an established NGO but changes are needed internally to improve upon old, out-dated practices and staff who are reluctant to change their behaviour and attitudes. What is the best way to handle this situation?
All funders are different with regard to the application process. However, for those independent Trusts who don’t have a specific application form, it can be good to attach your latest accounts and annual review along with the proposal. It is always beneficial to include a cover letter which summarises your project and the need, and also if it fits with the funder’s specific areas of interest. … [Read more...] about What additional information is useful when writing a funding proposal?
No the term ‘Concept Note’ is often misleading as it implies that it is just an outline of an idea. The reality is that a Concept Note is actually a first stage preliminary proposal that funders use to assess if a proposal is good enough to be invited to put forward a full application. Most concept notes are an application form with set questions that still require a project to be fully thought through. Therefore, if you are intending to respond to a funding opportunity that requires a Concept … [Read more...] about Is a concept note an idea for a project?
If you think of funding more like a financial investment, you will see why funders want to make sure that their investment is being used wisely and that costs are not only justified, but also that where possible you are ‘adding value’ to their investment. For example, your project may involve training women in SRH matters but you might add value to this by training women to train other women and share their skills and knowledge. From a funder’s perspective, this is value for money because the … [Read more...] about What do funders mean by ‘Value for Money’?
Why was the proposal unsuccessful? If possible try and get feedback from the funder to help you with future proposal development. It is a good idea to step back and review the proposal again to see where it might be strengthened. Every funder has different criteria and different development areas they are particularly interested in. It would be best to review your proposal again and adapt it according to specific criteria set by the grant-maker, so that each approach is tailored. This would be … [Read more...] about I have written a proposal for funding which was not successful. However, now that it is written, is it a good idea to send it to a number of other funders?
A concept note will have the basic contact details of the lead person submitting the application, along with details of any implementing partners. It will usually contain the title of the project, a project description/summary, the duration, and geographical area, in the introduction section. It will require details of the lead applicant organisation and an explanation as to why you are qualified to deliver the set outcomes as well as any implementing partner. Some Concept Notes will ask which … [Read more...] about What goes into the content of a Concept Note?
A log frame is short for ‘logistical framework’. It is a framework, usually in the form of a table, that helps you plan the implementation of a project. It should align with a work plan which is more detailed so that the logframe gives an overview of the entire project detailing who, what, when, and were for different activities, the resources required to deliver those activities, and the indicators that will be used to measure the project objectives, and desired outcomes. There is no right or … [Read more...] about What is a log frame in proposal writing?
The non-executive board of Directors are unpaid voluntary roles and they are usually responsible for the overall good governance of the NGO that they represent. They should make sure that there are robust financial controls in place and that funds are being spent in the correct way. They should also ensure that policies are kept up to date and work with the Executive Director to carry out strategy. They don’t get involved in day to day operations but are more an independent committee that is … [Read more...] about What is the role of a non-executive board of directors in an NGO?
It is always a good idea to provide volunteer ‘agreements’ with individuals who are working with you on an unpaid basis. This helps to clarify expectations of the volunteer role and required tasks from the NGO point of view, the reporting lines, the expected hours of work, and confirmation that the role is unpaid or pays a small stipend to cover travel or out of pocket expenses. It is also useful to state if there is a notice period on either side so that you don’t find yourself in a position … [Read more...] about We use volunteers for some of our projects, do they need contracts of any sort?
Many of the big funders such as USAID and UKAID can take up to ten weeks to give you the outcome of your application. In some cases, it can be more, depending on the competition. As long as you get a receipt from the funder, confirming that your application has been submitted, then you just have to wait until they inform you of the outcome. Sometimes if the assessment process is delayed, for example, if there has been a particularly high response to the call, they will usually keep you informed … [Read more...] about On average how long does it take to hear back from a funder after the deadline?
You have to have a plan or strategy which details what your aims and objectives are as an organisation over the next 3-5 years and which, a fundraising strategy feeds into. There are many NGOs that operate without a strategic plan and just have a simple fundraising plan which is centred on securing income to support various projects. However, this will not help develop and grow the NGO as it is limited in its long-term view and vision. By developing a strategic plan, it is possible to really … [Read more...] about What comes first, a strategic plan or fundraising strategy?
Consultation with beneficiaries and other stakeholders is an important part of new programme development and funders are keen to have evidence that this has been carried out. Funders want to see that projects have been developed in consultation with local people and other stakeholders to ensure that the project reflects local need and priorities. This can be done in a variety of ways including focus groups, surveys, questionnaires, and community meetings. It is always useful to carry out … [Read more...] about What kind of consultation does a funder expect when developing a programme for funding?
There are some people who believe that anybody can take on the role of a grants fundraiser and will employ someone who has come from an unrelated position in the commercial sector with no experience in this field at all. However, writing compelling applications for funding, especially from large strategic funders such as USAID requires skill and experience, especially with international projects. Therefore, it depends on the job level you are recruiting for and usually employing somebody without … [Read more...] about I’m recruiting a grants fundraiser. What are the key skills and minimum requirements that I should be looking for in a competent person?
As part of transparency to donors, you should always produce annual accounts which ideally, should be independently audited. These should be visible on the NGO website for any donor to see. The narrative version in the form of an Annual Review does not have to be written every year, but it is good practice to do it annually if you can. The annual report should provide a comprehensive overview of the business of the NGO in the past financial year. Usually, a good annual report would include an … [Read more...] about Is it necessary to always produce an annual financial report?
It is possible to recruit somebody and pay them on results, but this is highly unusual, and it is unlikely that a professional, experienced person would accept these terms. Writing grant applications takes time and effort starting with the research required to understand the project and source potential funders, checking their requirements and eligibility, looking at the types of projects they fund and then developing and writing a proposal. Even high quality proposals have no guarantee of … [Read more...] about Is it possible to use a freelance fundraising consultant and pay them on a commission basis only?
Think of an NGO or charity as a social business. In the same way that a business needs money to operate, so does an NGO. These days many NGOs require professional, skilled staff who provide skills and expertise in a variety of areas that relate to community development. These roles may be back-office finance roles that require skilled financial management; there may be safeguarding experts; there may be youth workers and there may be important leadership and management roles or other specialist … [Read more...] about Does all the money that a donor gives to an NGO go directly on its projects and beneficiaries?
Sustainability is a bit of a buzz word, but it is probably the most important thing to consider when developing a proposal for funding. You need to show the Funder how the project will continue after the grant has ended. Simply thinking that you will raise more money through fundraising is not enough. It is important to have realistic strategies which need to start early on in the project cycle that show a funder you have already thought about how you will sustain the project after funding … [Read more...] about What is the most important thing to consider in a project proposal?
Corporate fundraising is the term used for gaining funding through commercial partnerships. This could be through a grant, sponsorship, brand endorsement or employee fundraising. Companies that have a corporate social responsibility programme may have their own projects that they like to support, or sometimes they choose projects which are suggested by members of staff through an official company process. There are some companies that are also open to applications for grants and these operate … [Read more...] about What is corporate fundraising?
It is unlikely that you will be able to get a grant from a grant-making organisation if you are not registered as a charity or NGO which is properly constituted with a board of trustees or governing body. Some grant-making organisations will fund individuals but if you are seeking funding for work in the community, it is likely that you will need to be registered in some way as a non-profit making organisation, social enterprise, community interest company, or registered charity/NGO.Being … [Read more...] about Is it possible to get a grant for a project if you are not a charity or registered NGO?
Restricted funds are funds that have been acquired through donors for a specific project or activity. Unrestricted funds are those funds that have been raised to support the work of a charity or NGO but without a designated use. The two should be kept separately in accounts for transparency and to be able to show donors how and where the money is being spent.Raising unrestricted funds is always challenging for NGOs because typically, this money can be used to support the operational costs of the … [Read more...] about What is unrestricted funding? Why it is important for an NGO to raise unrestricted funds and how to raise unrestricted funds?