Resource Mobilization: what's working and what's not?
Resource mobilization is a constant challenge for all of us, yet a critical part of our work. In looking at the baseline surveys you completed in the fall, I noticed two challenges in particular that many of you face with respect to fundraising--getting enough general support funds and limited staff capacity to effectively fundraise. At GFW, we face similar challenges! As part of GFW's development team, I thought I'd share some general fundraising practices that we try to follow (see below). Some may not be relevant or possible for your organizations, I realize, and many/all of you are likely familiar with these anyway (if not and you'd like more information on any of them, feel free to ask us!). As such, it would be great if you could share some of your own learnings with fundraising as well. Specifically, what has worked for your organization with respect to fundraising? What hasn't worked that you are planning to change in the future? Are there any new fundraising ideas or campaigns that you are thinking of carrying out? How can GFW and other funders better help you with your own fundraising efforts?
1) Launch a fundraising campaign with a specific goal amount and purpose (for example, "we seek to raise $100,000 by the end of 2013 to develop a new program focused on the economic empowerment of young women. With these funds....") or for a specific project (maybe to build some type of new infrastructure—a crisis shelter, etc. or a training/workshop where participants will obtain new skills at the end). That way, donors get a clearer sense of how their money will be used, why it's needed, and ideally see a more concrete result with their donation.
2) If you don't already have one, invest in developing a website and (if possible) make it easy for donors to donate online through your site.
3) Host events and/or participate in networking events/conferences where more people get to know about your work and you have the opportunity to meet and cultivate relationships with potential donors. Visibility is key—if people don't know about your work, they won't be able to support you (and if you don't ask them to support you, you'll never know if they would have!). Even if the people you meet aren't able to support you, they may know people who are interested and able to support you.
4) Utilize volunteers (and other supporters, such as board members) to help fundraise for you—if done right, this can help ease the burden of staff and be another cost-effective way of mobilizing the community around your work.
5) Make sure you can communicate the impact of your work in both a quantitative and qualitative way. In other words, try to include both numbers and other data that give donors a better understanding of the scale of your impact, as well as individual and community level success stories that demonstrate in a clear and direct way what a donor's money was able to help bring about.
6) Even when receiving project support, make sure you are getting as close as you can to the true administrative (or indirect) costs for the project (as a percentage based on the size of grant in relation to your organizational budget) and that you include that in your budget to the funder as well (unless specifically told not to). When developing a budget for a funding request, a typical ratio is 80% of the grant for project (or direct) support, 20% for administrative (or indirect) support. Direct costs are those expenses directly related to the project the donor is supporting—this often includes salary time spent on the project (normally a percentage). Indirect costs include the cost of office space, office supplies and other expenses needed to keep the office running that aren't directly related to the project, but are important for the organization in being able to carry out the project. This includes other staff salaries, such as the accountant or office manager, who aren't working directly on the project but are important to the organization overall.
7) Help a donor envision how their money can make a difference by giving some examples - here's one from Phuli, a GFW grantee in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
6,000 Bangladeshi Taka (about $72) covers the costs for one child to participate in a full year of Phulki's early childhood education programs for the children of low wage garment workers. These full-time programs enable the child to access a quality developmental experience while enabling the child's mother to remain in the workforce and to continue to work for her economic security. Since Phulki provides its programs on-site in the Dhaka garment factories where over 1 million women work, working mums are also able to continue to breastfeed their infants. This benefits both child and mother and has measurably reduced child illness and child mortality.
Look forward to hearing from you!