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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Writing Style:
- 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.
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.
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!
o Make sure you include your contact information in the proposal.
o Prove that you are capable of managing the funds responsibly and efficiently.
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.
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.
- “Funding Guide for Community-Based Organizations”, Women Thrive Worldwide
- How to Apply for a USAID Grant, eHow
- Philanthropy.com’s Guide to Grants
- “Writing a Funding Proposal”, CIVICUS
- “Grant Writing Toolkit: The Needs Statement”, Center for Non-Profit Excellence
- “Key Suggestions for Obtaining Funding”, Peace and Collaborative Development Network
- "Unofficial Guide: How to apply for grants at NED"
Here are some links to donors and online databases of grant opportunities.
- World Pulse Resource Exchange
- The Global Fund for Women
- US Government Grants
- British Department for International Development (DFID)
- Donor Directory for Funding the Women’s Movement in the Middle East/North Africa
- Grants Database, Ford Foundation
- Do Something Resources Database
- The Foundation Center
- The Awesome Foundation
- Gates Foundation
- Association for Women in Development
- Peace and Collaborative Development Network
- Mama Cash
- The African Women’s Development Fund
- Kiva Microloans
- Global Giving
- Peace and Security Funders Group
- International Human Rights Funders Group
- Funders Online in Europe
- Google Grants
- Women’s Funding Network
- Guide to Key Resources for Funding Work in Peace-building, International Development and Related Fields
- FLOW: Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women
- TrustAfrica's List of Additional Sources of Support
- McCormick Foundation New Media Women Entrepreneurs
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.