Thursday, December 6, 2007

How can I design capacity building activities to improve the fundraising capacity?

An organization requests the capacity development advisor to start fundraising, or to ask an external expert to do it for the organization. If the fundraising does not succeed, the organization may collapse. The staff have limited time to work on fundraising. How to design a capacity building activity that improves the fundraising capacity of this organization?

These are the challenges:
  • How to widen the donor base and attract 2-3 major donors to replace the withdrawing donors?
  • How to build the capacity of the organization while important staff will be leaving over the next year or so?
  • How to create time and make fundraising a priority?

Hiring an external fundraiser versus fundraising by yourself. You have to be careful in hiring an external fundraiser. Eventually the director and/or the management team of an organization has to sell and promote the organization to donors. A fundraiser from outside does not show the 'passion' and 'commitment' of the organization and it is best that the organization itself builds the donor relationships. Yet, it might be efficient to hire a fundraiser to do a desk research (eg. to identify donors, key persons that fit the objectives of the organization) and to assist in the process of proposal writing. The director, however, has to make contacts and build relationships. The Management Centre in the UK, works in the same way. It is an organization that does a lot of fundraising training and advisory. But in the end, the organization has to do the fundraising by itself.

How to find new donor agencies? It can easily take more than a year. It might be hard work to contact a lot of new donors, whereas fruit may be harvested much later. Some practical suggestions:

  • Contact current donors that withdraw whether they know other donors. Current donors may have an interest in helping the organization with new donor contacts.
  • Hire an expert to do a research into potential donors. Develop proposals only after contacts have been established.
  • Attend key meetings where donors and partners meet, this can help in trust building and knowing key persons.
  • Contact people who have experience with EU tenders.
  • Organize a training on fundraising by an expert of 1 or 2 days. The training can bring people up to date with latest developments, key donors and effective fundraising.

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