2.4 Fundraising and income generation

There are many different ways to fundraise and many different sources of funds. The choice of which methods to use depends on the range of acceptable potential donors (funders) in the area and upon the time and resources available to devote to fundraising.

2.4.1 Generating funds

It is important to identify the financial resources that the resource centre can generate itself. These might include:

  • membership fees or fees for using the resource centre
  • payment for services provided - such as photocopying or literature searches
  • sales of information packs or publications
  • acting as consultants to train or advise others.

There may also be a community of users who are prepared to make a voluntary contribution to the work of the resource centre, or it may be possible to raise funds by general appeals to the community members.

Contributions from local individuals or organisations could be in forms other than money. For example, people may be willing to volunteer a certain amount of time to help with basic tasks at the resource centre, or to provide a specific technical or professional skill, such as accounting, computing skills, marketing, designing, writing or painting. Businesses in the community might be prepared to provide staff on loan for a period of time to help with particular work, or they might pay for the cost of developing promotional material about the resource centre. They might also have useful materials that they would be willing to donate or lend to the resource centre.

2.4.2 Applying for grants

Another source of funds may be grants from institutions or organisations that have money to finance development, charitable or educational activities.

Most funding organisations have specific requirements or conditions for granting money. Some only give money for certain types of activities, such as education, training or research. Some only give money for certain groups of beneficiaries, such as children, poor people or elderly people. Some only give money for certain locations, such as urban areas, rural areas, developing countries or a specific continent or region. Some only give money for work focusing on a certain topic or sector, such as HIV/AIDS, environment, education or communicable diseases.

2.4.3 How to find out about funders

If you are starting out and don’t know any donor agencies (funding organisations), start by making a list. To do this:

  • Write to or visit government departments in your country, asking whether they have any funds available for your sort of work.
  • Write to or visit embassies in your country, asking for a list of donor agencies in their country.
  • Write to or visit the offices of international organisations, such as United Nations agencies, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union, asking how to approach them for funding.
  • Approach local churches or other religious organisations and ask for the names and addresses of their international donors.
  • Ask other organisations for names and addresses of donors.
  • Ask colleagues and friends.
  • Look up donor agencies in your local library, British Council library or other library.

Write to all the donor agencies you can, asking them for their funding criteria and areas of interest. Type the letter on headed paper, explaining who you are and what kind of work you do. Send them a leaflet about your organisation if there is one.

2.4.4 How to apply for grants

Wherever possible, try to have personal contact with the donor agency. Ask for guidelines for presenting proposals (funding applications) and ask what criteria they use to make decisions, what areas of interest they have, and when and how often they give funds. Some donors will accept funding applications at any time. Some have specific procedures and times for considering funding applications.

Try to talk to someone within the donor agency before finalising any funding applications. You may want to visit the organisation, or ask someone from the funding organisation to visit your resource centre to see the type of work you do.

Once you have identified possible donors, you need to develop a clear funding proposal. The resource centre officer could be responsible for preparing a proposal, in consultation with his or her supervisor or a member of the resource centre advisory committee. The committee might want to discuss the proposal, or other staff in the organisation might be involved in developing and discussing the proposal.

The first time that you send a proposal to a particular donor, it is helpful to include any leaflet that you may have about your organisation, and reports about previous projects. Letters of referral or testimonials about previous work can also be useful. Also enclose your organisation’s latest annual report and financial accounts, if they are available.

The way you present the information in the funding proposal is important for convincing the donors that your project is worth funding. Always follow the guidelines set out by a donor, and answer any questions they set. Be precise and clear about what you want to do, how much funding you require and how you will use those funds.

Don’t use too many words. Briefly describe the problem you are tackling and how you intend to tackle it.

When you have received funds, remember to say thank you. And remember to keep in touch with the donors and let them know how you are getting on with the project that they are supporting. This may help with future funding.

2.4.5 How to prepare a funding proposal

Follow any guidelines provided by the donor agency. Keep your proposal short and concise. Divide it clearly into sections. If your organisation is already established, add other information such as an annual report and audited accounts as an appendix. But do not add unnecessary documents just to make the proposal look longer. Funders prefer short project proposals.

You will need to include the following:

Title of the project 
Make sure that the project has a name that clearly identifies it.

This should be no more than one page. It should explain the reason for the project, the aims and proposed activities, how long the project is planned to take and the amount of money needed.

Statement of the need
Explain why you want to do this project at this time and why the need for it exists. If appropriate, include a brief description of the geographical area, target group (the people who will benefit from it) and reason for selecting this target group.

Aims and objectives of the project 
Explain what you hope to achieve (not how you hope to achieve it - this comes next).

Describe how you hope to achieve the aims and objectives - what activities you will undertake, including monitoring and evaluation (see below). Be clear about the order in which these activities will be carried out, when each activity will start and how long it will last, and where each activity will be carried out.

Organisational background 
Briefly describe your organisation, its legal status, and the people who will be working on the project. Explain why you are qualified to do this project. Explain what work you have done previously that has given you the right experience for the project. Explain how this project fits with other activities of your organisation.

Monitoring means checking how the project is developing, to make sure that everything is happening as it should, that activities are being carried out on time, and that, if anything goes wrong, there is a system for informing those responsible and putting it right quickly.

Evaluation means finding out whether your project has achieved its aims. You must build evaluation plans into your overall strategy. Explain what methods you will use to measure the results of the project.

Make this as realistic as possible. Make sure that items in the budget are consistent with your aims and strategy. Use headings that reflect the way the project will be set up, but that are easy to identify - for example: Salaries, Equipment, Stationery, Communications, Rent, Travel.