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World Pulse Guide to Fundraising: Toolkit and Resources

Are you a community leader trying to find the resources to address local needs? An entrepreneur with an innovative idea that will change lives? Here is a guide to help get you started at finding and pursuing funding opportunities in the field of international development and women’s empowerment.

Fundraising is important for enabling your organization to achieve its mission. It also is a way to develop a strong network of people and organizations that support your work. I have put together this guide to finding the right funding opportunities in an effort to support our community members bring to life the brilliant ideas you have to make your communities, and the world, a better place. Please feel free to share your own thoughts, questions, best practices in a comment below. I hope it's helpful!

The guide consists of the following sections:

I. Looking for the right Funding Opportunities
II. Applying for a Grant
III. Proposal-Writing Tips
IV. Next Steps
V. Key Terms Defined
VI. Additional Resources
VII. Success Stories

I. Looking for the right Funding Opportunities

There are thousands of international organizations, foundations, agencies, and companies that provide funding for grassroots initiatives. The types of funding opportunities they provide vary based on the type of organization and its interests.

1. Develop a Strategy: Before you start fundraising, develop a clear and compelling mission for your work. Know what you want to do and what you need to do it. This will help you develop a funding strategy and identify potential funding sources. It will also help donors decide to fund your work. Ensure ethical fundraising by determining what kinds of funder sources you will and will not accept.

2. Research and Identify Prospective Donors: There are lots of resources out there, and various ways to find them. Foundations, government agencies, private companies, think tanks, and more provide funding from projects, equipment, research, educational development, training, and more. Look for grants specific to your interest. Look locally – network and build relationships in your community to find out what resources are available and engage local partners. Potential funding sources include:

  • Individuals/Stakeholders
  • Income-generating activities (services, products) and fundraising events.
  • Local government agencies, community organizations and charities, non-governmental agencies, businesses, etc.
  • International organizations, government aid agencies, multi-lateral agencies, United Nations.

3. Build Relationships: networking and building a relationship with potential partners and donors in your field can help you in many ways: learn about innovations in the field and funding opportunities, get visibility to your own projects, and establish partnerships. You can partner with another organization to jointly pursue a funding opportunity.

4. Get to know the Donor: Donors fund initiatives that have a particular purpose. Do your background research and learn about the organization, what its mission and goals are, and how it works to achieve them. The goals of the funder and the particular grant you are applying for should match those of the project you are seeking funding for.

  • Capacity: Does it have the resources available now to help you? Does the dollar amount they typically award match the amount you’re looking for?
  • Mission: Does your work match their mission and focus?
  • Geographic focus: do they fund projects in your area?

5. About the grant: Make sure you are a good fit for the grant. What is it for? How much is it for? How many do they award? What eligibility requirements do they have? When is the application deadline? What criteria is required and desired for applicants and projects prosed? What are the proposal guidelines? Read the information about the grant process carefully.

  • If they award $50,000-100,000 and your budget is for $5,000, this may not be a good fit.

6. Past Grantees: Most grant-making organizations have lists of past grantees and projects they have funding displayed publicly on their website. This will help you get an idea of who they typically fund – the kinds of organizations, the kinds of projects.

7. Find a match: Through your research, develop a list of prospective funders that currently have funding available that could support your goals and provides adequate resources for what you need to carry out your project.

8. Questions about the grant process? Contact the grants administrator at the organization you are applying to if you have questions about the grant, the application procedure, etc.

II. Applying for a Grant

Writing successful grants takes meticulous attention to detail, extensive knowledge about the issue being covered, and passion! It is a useful skill honed with practice. We hope this tips will help you write persuasively and with authority to compel a reader to fund your ground-breaking project!

  • Do your research: Conduct thorough research for your project beforehand so you can demonstrate in the proposal that you have a comprehensive understanding of the background and context of the issue you intend to address.
  • Know your audience: Using the same proposal for different organizations is not a productive tactic. Know your audience, who they are and what they’re interested in funding, and tailor your proposal to that.
  • Read and follow the directions. Carefully. Make sure you follow all the guidelines and requirements for the grant application/proposal, and address every requirement.
  • Talk to the Funder: Sometimes organizations let you contact them and ask questions before applying. This is an opportunity to connect with a person at the organization, confirm they are accepting proposals, and clear up any confusion or doubts about the proposal process.
  • LOI or Full Proposal: Find out if you need to submit a letter or intent/inquiry (defined below) or a full proposal first.

III. Proposal-Writing Tips:

  • Typical Sections of a Proposal: Most proposal templates include the following sections:
  • o Executive Summary – short summary of your proposal.
    o Vision/Problem statement – the issue you’re addressing.
    o Description of your organization
    o Goals and objectives of your program/project.
    o Project description
    o Budget (of the project, and maybe of your whole organization)
    o Board and Staff list of your organization
    o Ask amount: how much of your budget are you asking to be covered by the grant? Many grants only fund 15-40% of your total budget, so be prepared with other income sources and do not ask for the whole budget.

  • What, Where, Why, How, Who: It is helpful to answer these questions about your project in the narrative of the proposal. The proposal should be clear, organized, and compelling.
  • o What is the problem/issue you intend to address?
    o Where is the location of the project?
    o Who are the stakeholders, who does the project target, benefit. Demonstrate local support for your work.
    o How will your project address this issue, achieve its goals, and create a sustainable solution.
    o Why is it important, what is the expected impact and significance of this project. Be persuasive - show why you’re passionate about it, and make the reader feel the same!

  • Who are you: Your organization and team and demonstrate how you are fitted to address this issue and carry out this project. Describe any local partners you have identified to work with you on the project. Be prepared to answer questions about the long-term strategy and sustainability of your organization, its legal status, and the financial stability and management of your organization.
  • o Make sure you include your contact information in the proposal.
    o Prove that you are capable of managing the funds responsibly and efficiently.

  • Writing Style:
  • o Be careful about adjectives, you have to back them up with proof.
    o Be concise and straightforward. The reviewer’s time is limited.
    o Use the active voice, rather than passive.
    o Don’t use “I” or “We” when talking about your organization - be formal and professional.
    o Make them as excited about your project as possible, while being clear and concise.
    o Define any acronyms or technical language used in the proposal.

  • Proofread: Make sure you, and others, read over the final version to check for typos and spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Ask for feedback: If you are notified that your application was not selected for the grant, see if you can contact the grant administrator and get some feedback as to what you can do better in the future. This will help you learn from your experiences and improve.

IV. Next Steps:

a. You’ve been funded! What’s next?

  • Send a thank you letter immediately
  • Mark your calendar with any reporting deadlines, and review what you need to track over the period.
  • Sign the contract (and keep a copy).
  • Include the funder on invitations to events.
  • List the funder in programs/credits.
  • Track your expenses, impact, results.

b. If you don’t get funding, what’s next?

  • If it’s a good match, don’t be afraid to apply again.
  • You can use the material you prepared for the proposal for future ones.
  • Be aware that some funders don’t notify if you at all if your project was not chosen.
  • If possible, work on building a relationship with the funder and keeping them informed of your projects and their impact.

V. Key Terms Defined:

  • Budget narrative: explains the budget. Explanations can include the derivation of amounts (for example, a $1,250 budget item derives from 100 people at five meetings each using a $2.50 expendable item), the itemization of totals, the purpose of purchased supplies and services, and the justification of the size of salaries, fringe benefits, and indirect costs.
  • Concept Paper: Potential grantees can submit concept papers that summarize their idea and experience to funders that haven’t solicited proposals. Concept paper should roughly outline your organization's project and include all contact information for your organization, projections of the cost of your project including a time frame for estimated completion, and any previous or similar projects you have done in the past that demonstrate experience in delivering economic or humanitarian assistance.
  • Cooperative Agreement: An agreement in which the (U.S.) Federal Government provides funding (or other resources), the government plays a substantial role in managing it.
  • Cost Sharing: Where the funder and the grantee share the cost of the project.
  • Grant: An agreement in which the donor gives money or other resources of value to the grantee for a particular purpose, and the donor does not play a substantial role in then using the money/resources granted.
  • Indirect Costs: costs incurred that are not directly tied to a particular activity of the program.
  • Letter of Inquiry/Intent: The LOI is usually 2-3 pages long and includes key information to help the funder decide whether your organization meets its criteria for funding.
  • Pitch: a short, enthusiastic summary of your organization. You should have it in writing to include in letters, emails and proposals, and be able to deliver it verbally in person or over the phone. It is a quick introduction to your organization, with the goal of getting people interested in what you do and why it’s important.
  • RFA: Request for Applications for a grant/contract.
  • RFP: Request for Proposal for a grant/contract.

VI. Additional Resources:

Here are some links to other toolkits and guides to help you learn more about how to get the funding you need to change the world.

Here are some links to donors and online databases of grant opportunities.

VII. Success Stories
World Pulse member CongoLeeza from the Democratic Republic of the Congo describes how World Pulse helped her obtain funding for an important conference on women and orphans in Eastern Congo. Click here to read her story!

Do you have a success story from your experiences with World Pulse? Let us know!

Empowering this community with information is a key priority for World Pulse. If you found this information helpful, let us know how by posting a comment or sending us an email. Click here for a list of other World Pulse toolkits currently available.


The Young Feminist Wire is holding an e-learning course on Resource Mobilization on 24 August 2011. Click here for more information.

Jane Tuhirirwe's picture

Thanks for your guide tools

Thanks for your guide tools to funding, personally I am looking for someone to help me in putting funding applications together, this needs a person who really knows to do business proposal and business plan as well. I have been applying for funding but I cannot be successful. Please more help is needed for me to succed in fundraising for my project of supporting young girls and orphans in Africa.


merci bcp

nous sommes a votre attente si vous pouvez nous soutenir a bâtir un orphelinat au Congo,
merci de votre apport pour la drcongo bukavu




wahoo! c'est une bonne opportinuté ,merci!


nkinyanjui's picture

This is so helpful, thank

This is so helpful, thank you! I recently applied for a grant, though it was pretty specific in that they sent a form which i was to complete with the details, but i guess not all donors/partners do that? And even for corporates its all about making your proposal stand out and relevant, glad to have the subsections noted here. Thanks for the format and i most especially like the section that you have included the 'You've been funded! What next?' Cheers,its a bookmarked page for me!

Breese's picture

So glad!

I am so glad you found it helpful! I encourage you to share any suggestions and best practices, or questions that you have. Thank you!!

michelekbaer's picture

Thanks + another resource:

Thanks Breese for all the wonderful information you posted!

I just wanted to add another: the Global Fund for Women's Fundraising Handbook. Designed especially for first-time fundraisers, the Global Fund’s updated handbook presents some key ideas about raising money to fund women's rights work in today's global political and economic context. If you know or work with women's groups struggling for resources, please read, and pass on this manual.

You can download the latest version here:

In solidarity,

Breese's picture

Thank you!

Thanks for sharing this, Michele!!

sunbo55's picture

Thank you

Thank you. This is very educative material.

anaspis's picture

Thanks a lot!! I do

Thanks a lot!!

I do participate in a research group at the Universtiy which helps ngo's in the strategy related to fundraising. Do you know any Spanish version of fundrasing guides? Would be absolutely helpul.


Breese's picture

Analia, Some of the

Some of the organizations that provide toolkits (in the other resources section) may have versions in other languages available on their websites. As for this PulseWire one, you could use the Translation Feature at the top of the website to translate it to Spanish. It probably won't be perfect, but may be helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions. Gracias!

YAOtieno's picture


Breese this is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

HowMatters's picture

Waiting for Pennies from Heaven

On my blog I also shared a list of fundraising resources for local organizations in the developing world. See:

This particular publication on local resource mobilization is very important to highlight in order to ensure we do not encourage more dependence on international donors: - Aid effectiveness is not about what we do, but HOW we do it.

Breese's picture

Thanks for sharing!!

Thanks for sharing!!



your brother in congo africa love you


carolepng's picture

Very informative!

Thank you so much for this - We have been looking at donor fundings and just recently been awarded our first ever grant and it is so exciting!!
"You've been funded - what's Next?" - thank you for this!!!
Very very useful info :-)

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

Breese's picture



Betty Kagoro's picture

Thank you Breese!

Hi Breese,
Thanks a lot this is so helpful.
We'll definitely take advantage of this great resource.

best regards,



Breese's picture

I'm so glad! Please do share

I'm so glad! Please do share any learnings, best practices, and questions that arise through your experience!

kells's picture

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Can i qualify for funds as far as botswana

Breese's picture

Absolutely! These are mostly

Absolutely! These are mostly general tips, and many of the additional resources are global funding opportunities.

nagun's picture

Guide to fund raising

Thanks alot for this, I am part of an NGO that helps improve learning in my local government and also helps people suffering from sickle cell disease get all the assistance they need. This will no doubt help with our fund raising drive. Thank you, I knew being part of pulsewire would be a big plus. Nagode as we say in hausa.

All the best


Breese's picture

I'm so glad you found it

I'm so glad you found it helpful, and I do hope it helps your organization! It sounds like you're doing incredibly important work!

nagun's picture

You know i live in Nigeria

You know i live in Nigeria and life is challenging, i lost two sisters to sickle cell and they survived as long as they did and achieved something in life cos my family supported them, many young people who suffer from this disease are not so lucky, so many suffer in so many ways and my heart gose out to them, i pray to be a miilionaire reall soon so i can help more, educationally children in my village are disadvantaged and i must do something because without education the circle of poverty continues. This post will help us make a difference.

Thank you Breese,


Breese's picture

I agree, admire your strength

I agree, admire your strength and dedication, and am so sorry for your loss. Take care, Nagun!

Starland's picture


Thanks Breeze!
I am printing it out and gluing it to the inside of my eyelids. :)

I appreciate you and all that you do.

K-lee 3709

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

Breese's picture

Thank you so much, K-Lee, for

Thank you so much, K-Lee, for your sweet message. I am so glad it's helpful!

Rena's picture

Thanks for sharing

This is very helpful. I know we will apply what we have read to help our group move to greater places.

batool's picture


taht is a very good leason to improve our work. we wrote projects to many international organization but they didnt accept to may be because we didnt write the project in a good way
my best regard

Breese's picture

Good luck!

Good luck!

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Just timely

Thanks for the information! It was particularly timely for me to come across this because I was able to share it with a Gender Working Group I'm part of. We are discussing if and how we should have a global training conference on gender and peacebuilding. I should also mention that I took the opportunity to introduce and promote World Pulse as one of my favorite networks. :) By promoting World Pulse, and by taking more opportunities to share with the GWG all the cool stuff on this network, I hope to be able to 'revive' the communication and experience sharing within the GWG. So, thanks again!

Breese's picture

This is so great to hear!

This is so great to hear! Thank you for spreading the word about World Pulse, and please do share any thoughts or improvements you and your group come up with as you discuss it. Thanks again, and keep up the good work with your GWG!!

Esnart Hamiyanda's picture

Hi Breese Thanks for the

Hi Breese

Thanks for the response i shall do as proposed.


Greengirl's picture

Thank you for Sharing

I just came across this very all important information today. Thank you so much Breese, as I am sure it would be very useful for my organization.

Best Wishes,


Breese's picture

I'm so glad you've found it

I'm so glad you've found it helpful! Please do post any of your own ideas and suggestions in a comment. I'm sure you and your organization have some great experience to share. All the best!

lifesong's picture



I just launched a reading programme last year in December and would like to know whether there are organizations that fund upstarts, projects that need funding to start operation on a large scale.


James Ouma,

Life's a Song
Sing it, dance it, live it!

Breese's picture

Hi James, Congratulations on

Hi James,
Congratulations on launching this program! I'm sure there are organizations that fund programs like yours. Check out the resources above, post your need in our Resource Exchange, and use the guidelines above to guide your proposals and research. Let us know how it goes, and if you find any resources to add to this list!


james correct

my needs of my organisation osodi is posted in the programe of world pulse, the needs of orphans and womens
if you assist and your orientation is good,
emmanuel balagizi
from bukavu congo


I just found this resource online, which has some valuable information on fundraising as human rights defenders:

Fundraising for Human Rights: Lessons-learned and practical advice

I hope it's helpful!






LeahO's picture

Good advice

When I awarded business grants I received a lot of applications that were full of poor grammar or too little information. I definitely recommend following the advice in this article. Pay attention to details and make sure you are applying for a grant that matches your needs. Otherwise you are wasting your time and the person or organization offering the grant.

When I reviewed the good applications I looked for two main things. First it was someone who knew what they were going to do with the money. Second it was someone who showed initiative and a willingness to do the hard work.

Las cosas se hacen bien o no se hacen! (Do things well or not at all!)

Leah Oviedo, Self Defense Instructor, Author ,and Artist. Learn about my work here:

Breese's picture

Thank you for this valuable

Thank you for this valuable information! Mil gracias,

Bettina Amendi's picture

Thanks Breese,just joined

Thanks Breese,just joined world pulse recently.I am a young entrepreneur working directly with women on a propoor programme.Am using tourism as a tool to eradicated poverty among the women in my country Kenya.This will do as good.Our website is

Phionah Musumba's picture

Can't Thank You Enough!

Hey, Breese,
I have been fundraising for the Centre for Disadvantaged Girls for almost 10 years without success. We have never had a single donor. We sure are going to employ your tips to the end. Once again , THANK YOU!
All the best,

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Lwesso's picture

Quelle bonne chance

Nous sommes curieux;nous allons exploiter ces opportunités


merci des conseils, cela va beaucoup nous aider surtout nous qui oeuvrons dans les pays en voie de développement; malgré notre expertisme nous avons difficile à déchrocher des bailleurs de fonds
Merci de tout coeur
Coordinatrice AFeSoDD


Dear Breese
the information you provided in the fundraising tool kit is very useful. But I need more guidance please. I am from Pakistan and i am a Film maker.
I want to make a film on Sexual Harssment and open the eyes of people about this sensitive issue and want people to think about ending it .
I need to apply for a grant in order to make my film . Will a grant be given to me as an individual Film maker ?

Please guide me in this regard .

WIll be waiting for your reply

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