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1. To make contact with donors from other countries, start with the embassies.
Embassies often have small grants programmes, which you can use to fund small projects and to build a relationship towards possibly bigger grants in future.
Many NGOs in developing countries access funding from donors in other countries through International NGO partners. Government donors tend to favour agencies that they know already, so may be more willing to fund a local NGO through an international NGO.
2. Donor grant websites are costly
There are so many sources out there that you can get lost. Start by undertaking some "donor mapping". Get hold of the strategies of the major donor working in your country. Who works in your geographical area? Who works in your sector? Do they fund local NGOs? If they fit in with your work, try to arrange an appointment.
3. Demonstrate quality in all of your communications.
4. If you solicit funds, stress how the funding will be used and NOT how desperate you are for funds.
Here is an example of a well-written explanation of how funds will be used:
Here is an example of a poorly-written explanation:
5. You should have a one-page summary of expenditures and revenue of your organisation for the previous year.
Be prepared to share this information with potential donors. If you have a website, consider posting it there too. Expenditures should include rent, salary amounts, travel expenses and all other expenses incurred by your organisation, even if staff have paid for some expenses themselves (note such payment in your "revenue" section).
If you are unsure how to prepare such a report, consider asking more established NGOs in your area for their own financial reports. Online volunteers with expertise in accountancy and reporting may be helpful, and can be recruited from www.onlinevolunteering.org. Also consider contacting students studying accountancy at university nearest to you to see if they would volunteer to help.
Donors want to see accountability and transparency. They want to know how your organisation's funds are spent so they can have an idea of how any donation they make will be spent. Having this information ready to share - even sharing it unasked for with a potential donor - will demonstrate your organisation's accountability and transparency. Many donors will be interested to see how much the NGO is investing as a local contribution, albeit in kind.
6. Consider ways to partner with other NGOs, particularly international NGOs serving your area.
At a minimum, other NGOs, particularly international NGOs in your area, should know who your organisation is, what it does, and what successes it has achieved. This can help build your organisation 's reputation. Organisations may link to your organisation from their web sites, which will further add to your credibility among potential donors.
In addition, explore services that your organisation could provide together with other NGOs. Collaboration is highly valued among potential donors. Such partnerships could mean that people would be willing to donate to your organisation through an existing international NGO. Be sure to mention such collaborations in any funding proposals you prepare.
7. Remember that donors and businesses often have many requests for support each week.
Don’t be disheartened if they don’t show interest at first. Write or call and ask for an appointment rather than just sending a letter. During the meeting request them to visit you and see your current work. In this way, you are not just asking for money but trying to build a relationship with a potential supporter.
8. Provide references from people and organisations who are willing to affirm to others your organisation's work and credibility.
They will verify to potential donors that your organisation is worthwhile and credible. An international NGO serving the same geographic area is a good reference, as is a representative from a nearby university. If they are well-acquainted with your organisation's activities the nearest UNDP office may be willing to serve as a reference for your organisation. Ask organisations which have established official reputations if they would be willing to provide references for your organisation, and to be listed in your funding proposals as such.
9. Donors are reluctant to fund one-person organisations.
Donors want to fund an organisation, not one person. Even if the organisation has just one employee and that employee happens to also be the founder, your organisation should also involve local volunteers who have a voice in what your organisation does and how it works.
Your written communications should stress how your organisation involves many people in decision-making and management. You should provide the names of people who serve on your advisory board - for instance, perhaps the parents of children your NGO provides services for may help your organisation make decisions about programs and strategies.
10. Large corporations are reluctant to fund local NGOs serving the developing world unless the corporation has an office somewhere in or near the geographic area of the NGO.
If you decide to approach a large corporation about funding, look at that company's web site and read all information posted about that company's philanthropic activities. Find out if they have an office in your geographic area. If the company has guidelines for submitting funding proposals, respect those guidelines. For example, if the company states that it does not fund environmental organisations, and your organisation is focused on environmental issues, do not ask for funding.
Large corporations are often more inclined to fund local NGOs in geographic areas where they also have offices if employees from the company are also volunteering at that NGO. Before you solicit funding from such companies, consider creating volunteering opportunities for that company's local employees and invite the company's participation. These local employees, through volunteering, will get to know your organisation and may be willing to champion your organisation for funding within the company.
11. Build up an online reputation
For instance, post a relevant document that can help others at www.developmentgateway.org, www.eldis.org and www.comminit.com. If you involve volunteers, write about how they help and submit your story to www.worldvolunteerweb.org. Even doing this just once every two years will help greatly expand your online reputation; if a corporation that is considering whether or not to fund you knows about these contributions it could increase your chances of receiving funding.
12. Prepare a plan to thank donors immediately after receiving their donations and a way to update them six months after their donations about what your organisation has achieved.
This will increase the probability that they will contribute again!
13. Some things you should never do