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Resource Mobilization: what's working and what's not?

Dear Partners,

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!



I thought I would share some interesting examples of resource mobilization from some women’s right groups that we’ve come across:

-Empowering Women of Nepal offers Nepali women technical training and employment in the male-dominated and lucrative trekking industry. Both the guides and EWN are able to use the trekking agency to generate their own personal and organizational income.

-HER Fund in Hong Kong runs several innovative campaigns throughout the year to engage different community members in fundraising, including talent shows, a three-legged race, and group kickboxing. Check out the list of fundraising events on their website:

-Isis International – Manila invested in purchasing property and created a female guest house/hostel and conference space. Non-profit organizations, travelers and researcher rent space from the Isis International Women’s House, which provides a sustainable source of income to the group.

-Samsara runs a safe abortion hotline in Indonesia. The group uses to network with international travelers, exchanging a place to stay for increased visibility – travelers offer services, donations and take Samsara’s materials to distribute along their travels.

Suparna Kudesia's picture

Thank you!

Dear Anjali and Iris,

Thank you for these very thoughtful and critical questions! We are looking forward to responding and reading others' responses. The fundraising links you shared are very helpful, thank you!

Warm regards and more soon,

Suparna Kudesia
Peer Educator, RAHI Foundation //

Greetings Sisters and Partners,

Anjali, thank you for the sharing these wonderful ideas for fundraising and asking pertinent questions. It has allowed us to strategize about fundraising even more and prompted more dialogue about the same. You are absolutely right when you stated the two salient problems we are facing as a cohort, and especially as RAHI, i.e., "getting enough general support funds and limited staff capacity to effectively fundraise".

We are excited to share some of our learnings through the years at RAHI.

1. What has worked for RAHI with respect to fundraising?
a) Fundraising through grant application/funding
When RAHI Foundation was founded, our mission to create an India without child sexual abuse was one of its kind and was tapping a problem that was unseen and silenced, which made the need for the work we needed to do very strong. We have learned that innovative grants and projects and clarity in the proposal are critical. The historical context was also such that in India, people wanted to support the cause and bigger donors were much more flexible in their mandates and were more able to make larger links between childhood violence and the impact on adult women and adolescent girls who were survivors. We have also learned that it is very important to match the proposal to what the donor's mandate is.

b) Fundraising through the community
Community-based resource development has been an important part of our work, especially with the realization that grant money is getting scarcer. Making the community we serve a critical part of our fundraising is also a way to make the community aware of, accountable to, and active agents in addressing the problem of child sexual abuse and incest.
As an example to further share what has worked for us at RAHI, we can look at the annual Delhi Marathon that RAHI uses as an effective platform to raise funds.

i. We have attended fundraising conferences and workshops to sharpen our skills.

ii. We have learned that it is important to get the fundraising pitch right and be specific/concrete about how the donations will be used. Personal connections are crucial - people tend give to people first, then a cause.

iii. We invest in our runners, who are volunteers and we try to help them set fundraising targets (never an easy feat!) and address their possible hesitations regarding asking for money.

    An important lesson has been to not give up!

2. What hasn't worked that we are planning to change in the future?
a) Grants
i. Being a part of collaborations/networks/cohorts is imperative - it allows for one to pool in multiple resources. This has been an important lesson for us and being a part of this cohort reifies this practice even more.

ii. A factor that has not worked for RAHI has been the silence around the child sexual abuse and a lack of recognition of the impact on women and adolescent girls. The sad reality is that no one funds child sexual abuse survivor work anywhere in the world. We are dependent on feminist groups and women's funds, nonetheless, a lot of them are restricted and few. We need more funders like, the GFW & the Nike Foundation, who have imagination and are able to step outside of the box to see the linkages between working with childhood violence prevention and adult survivors.

b) Community fundraising
i. Child sexual abuse is a cause not many people want their money associated with in India. In a country like ours, which has a tradition of philanthropy, there is a vast range of unmet needs that need funding. CSA and incest as issues, unfortunately, tend to be prioritized secondarily.

ii. Giving is commonly associated with underprivileged. The survivors and victims we work with look like you and me, because abuse cuts across class, race, gender, religion, and all other barriers. This is what makes RAHI's position difficult, as may be the case with our other partners here - such as, INFOTEKA and FAT - the outcome of our work is often not immediately visible. We can't show pictures of survivors to funders and fundraising for our cause requires a critical level of awareness and education.

iii. The amount of money raised through community-based mobilization is always very small and it is difficult to have big public events given the size of our organization. More than ever, we have realized the importance of having a provisional fundraiser and/or team.

3. Are there any new fundraising ideas or campaigns that you are thinking of carrying out?
a) For now, we are strategizing on how to build on the Marathon, which has worked well for us and are trying to focus our efforts on a more challenging category - corporate funding.

b) We are also working on building a fundraising component into our programs and refining our website to have an embedded PayPal link.

4. How can GFW and other funders better help you with your own fundraising efforts?

This is a great question and once again, we appreciate you naming, at the very beginning, our need for a fundraising staff. We at RAHI believe strongly that creative funders such as GFW can:
a) Invest in helping organizations build capacity for fundraising teams
b) Dedicate fundraising building resources
c) Assign an experienced fundraiser as a volunteer placement

Hope this has been helpful, albeit long! We look forward to hearing from our other cohort members on ideas and lessons from your fundraising experiences.

In solidarity,

Suparna Kudesia
Peer Educator, RAHI Foundation //

Thank you all for your comments above, in particular Suparna who offers always elaborated answers - which makes us all think about - how to improve our work.

One issue in particular is how to describe our impact.
The reality here in Bosnia is that only in the power centers - women's NGOs have greater access to donors. Just recently we had an empowerment workshop in the village called Brnjic - where we were faced again with a large group of women bearing the burden of immense workload. How to talk about women's political rights - when those women describe as their main enemy a foster rangers who run after them when they collect wood to heat their homes. Yes - it is a crime to cut wood in the forest - but then how it is possible that only 100 kilometers from the capital Sarajevo - more then 5000 people live in conditions that are miles away from living conditions in Sarajevo? Politicians, naturaly, visit areas such as Brnjic before every elections, and then they forget their promises - leaving a young woman principal of a local primary school to struggle with the complicated Bosnian political system in order to secure funding for adult literacy classes ...Images of those women living in Brnjic and other similar places are not shown in our daily media outlets. They look ugly next to the photos of our prominent national male political leaders, and such photos do not sell advertisements ...

On the other hands - what does it mean women's empowerment? When working in such communities - we HAVE to respect the culture and tradition, finding new ways to deliver the message to women. Often we ask ourselves - what if we have "too much impact" - what will happen if we empower a woman too much, and at the end of the road - we cannot offer her an alternative - housing, paid work, social and health care?

We do not see enough courage within the women movement in BiH to fight for a strategy on fundraising. Unfortunately, even we women - feminist - activist are affected by our daily political reality.

Until we find strength and confront with the politician - we will have to base our fundraising strategies on funding on a yearly basis from foundations such as Global Fund for Women and Nike Foundation, and hope for better.

Suparna Kudesia's picture

Thank you!

Thank you Infoteka for your kind words and for your important questions. They have helped shaped my thinking and my understanding of how political realities deepen the complexity of our already challenging struggles. Especially the image you share of the political and cultural reality is one that really brings to light the complex reality of the world we live in. What you say about the women's movement and the courage needed is something that rings true for a lot of us in India as well. Still, I feel that empowerment is critical. Having the ability to change often catalyzes change. Having the vision to change an oppressive system, can lead to acquiring resources and the understanding needed to change such a system. We wish you the very best and look forward to hearing more and learning more from you.

In solidarity,
-Suparna Kudesia

Suparna Kudesia
Peer Educator, RAHI Foundation //

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