Fundraising helps to achieve financial stability: how to do it right

Local and international support in the form of grant programs is one of the main sources of funding for the activities of NGOs. But in recent decades, fundraising has also become increasingly popular in post-Soviet countries. This is another way of finding money for social and socially useful activities, which consists in the interaction of business and NGOs.

Maxim Podberezkin, trainer from Belarus, shared successful cases of such interaction at the Summer School, which was held as part of the Innovative Uzbekistan project. When Maxim worked as a fundraiser at a children's hospice in Belarus, he and his team were able to raise $4 million to build a new building and complete it. How to conduct a successful fundraising campaign and how is cooperation between business and NGOs possible in modern Uzbekistan?

The summer school was held as part of "Innovative Uzbekistan" project, implemented by ODB Brussels (Belgium) in partnership with Eco Forum of Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan), the New Diplomacy (Czech Republic) with funding from the European Union.

Read more materials from the Summer School:

  1. What are the cross-cutting values of the project and how to put them into practice
  2. Let's chase the dream: a logical-framework approach to writing project proposals


Based on his many years of experience, the trainer from Belarus compared building the relationship of NGOs and businesses with traditional courtship. Just as relations between people do not develop immediately, so at first it is difficult to start a business to support social, environmental and other socially important initiatives. In most cases, the term fundraising is used in relation to the activities of non-profit organizations (NPOs) that raise funds for socially significant purposes.

Stages of fundraising: from acquaintance to the implementation of the They start, of course, with an introduction. At this stage, you definitely need to interest the business in something so that it wants to learn more about your organization. Here it is important to immediately think about how you can attract partners: the uniqueness of the organization. Uniqueness can be defined at the level of a nation, a region, or even at the level of an individual service. Participants of the Summer School were actively involved in the search for the uniqueness of their NGOs. Khadicha Nazarova, director of the NGO ALOMATLIK PLUS ECOLOGY, spoke about the environmental marathon, during which 2,000 trees were planted in the city of Kokand in a day. Ibragimjon Domulajanov, head of the Association “For an Ecologically Clean Ferghana”, Chairman of the Council of the “Ecoforum of Uzbekistan”, recalled the first eco-festival held in Fergana among schoolchildren.

“The courtship process continues,” Maxim Podberezkin says, “and we need to make a concrete proposal. That is, to propose a project of cooperation. Of course, you can immediately talk about long-term cooperation, but, based on my experience, I recommend starting with the implementation of a small joint project. It is rare that a business is ready to allocate big money at once, and here the question is rather not trust, but strategy. Because for business it is important not only how you spend the allocated funds, but how everything will be done in a procedural plan: communication, documents, reports. When the business sees that you are professionals not only in environmental matters, but also in office work and accounting, they will want to work with you.”

At the same time, it is important that the proposal for cooperation be specific. Here, much is similar at the stage of writing a project for international grants (you can read more about this at the link). It is necessary to designate the budget, terms of implementation, planned results. It is important for business to understand how long and for what money you plan to achieve the discussed goal. This allows you to evaluate the effectiveness and compare the cost of costs with the result.

A metaphorical wedding is the beginning of cooperation and the implementation of a joint project. Most often, if a company has begun to cooperate with NGOs, this tradition will continue. “Business strives for stability and does not like to change partners frequently. Therefore, after the first project, it is important to get feedback, whether you liked everything, what can be improved, what ideas you have for further cooperation. The involvement of the business is important here, because in this case, people from the company also begin to root for your idea and offer their projects.”

Fundraising is a regular job

Of course, in order to start raising money for NGOs from the business side, ideally it would have to be a separate employee who works in this direction. Because, the very first company to which the initiative will turn is unlikely to decide to allocate funds. As a rule, to get the support of 5-10 companies, you need to contact a hundred. It can be letters, cold or warm calls. This work is time-consuming, but, as Maxim admits, it is interesting and there is a lot of room for creativity in it.

“I recommend using projects to create an alternative resilience strategy for the organization. Very often, such a strategy is one of the components of the project. And for the duration of the project, you can find a fundraiser, that is, a person who will seek additional funding. To begin with, to conduct project activities. During the work, a person will gain experience, which in the future will allow him to continue working and establish contacts with companies. It may take six months to start this process. But then it will build up like a snowball.”

Maxim shared this life hack from his own experience: if you want to get money, then ask for advice. You can engage businesses and people simply by asking them questions. This is a good start for future partnerships.

Know the law

After a large theoretical block, the participants of the Summer School began to discuss with the trainer the peculiarities of Uzbek legislation on interaction between business and NGOs. Maxim's opinion is that it is important for NGOs themselves to first study and know the legislation well in order to initially inform businesses about the nuances of sponsorship and charity.

“When I started working as a fundraiser at the Children's Hospice in Minsk (Belarus) in 2009, many people thought it was impossible. It is impossible to attract so many funds, at that time the hospice's expenses per year were about 250 thousand dollars. In particular, it is impossible due to the imperfection of the legislative framework. But we tried to change the situation: we took letters of support, wrote to the Council of Ministers, to the Parliament. As a result, after a couple of years, we managed to make the Children's Hospice one of the charitable organizations that businesses can help not with net profit, but even before paying taxes. Any situation can be changed a little bit, it is not simple. This is serious work, but it is very important to set yourself up for positive and believe in what you are doing. You do not know what obstacles will arise, but this is your life's work and you will try to overcome all obstacles in order to achieve your goal.

Write projects or work with local sponsors? Each NGO makes its own choice. The trainer from Belarus believes that you can successfully do both at the same time. Ideally, it's great when the organization has a separate specialist who writes grants, and a separate one who works with local sponsors. “The work of a fundraiser always brings benefits to the organization. Let you not get money, but as many people as possible will know about you. More people will understand what you are doing and thus attitudes will change. When you do a lot and communicate a lot, there will always be people who want to help.” Where to look for such people, as well as what myths about fundraising to avoid at the start - read the second material on fundraising from the Summer School of the Innovative Uzbekistan project.

Text: Valeria Nikolaychik

Photo: Alyona Lis

This material has been prepared within the framework of the project "Innovative Uzbekistan" implemented by ODB Brussels (Belgium) in partnership with Eco Forum of Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan), the New Diplomacy (Czech Republic) funded by the European Union.

The content is solely the responsibility of ODB Brussels and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.


ODB Brussels