Important Rules for Project Fundraising

We analyzed in the first material from the Summer School of the "Innovative Uzbekistan" project what is "fundraising" and how NGOs build relationships with local businesses. We remind that in Russian, instead of the term “fundraising”, one can use “raising funds and resources”, and call a “fundraiser” a “specialist in raising funds and resources”.

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.

Trainer from Belarus and one of the first Belarusian fundraisers Maxim Podberezkin shared his own many years of experience and told the participants of the Summer School about an integrated approach to working with local businesses.

Features of project fundraising

When starting to develop this direction in the activities of your NGO, it is also important to remember that fundraising can be either operational or project based. Operational fundraising implies that money is needed urgently and for something specific (within the time period of about a month).

Project fundraising is distinguished by a project approach and is in many ways similar to writing an international grant project. It has a beginning and an end, a specific idea and a program. The program is a direction of activity of NGO. Every organization has a strategic goal - to solve some problem. It is not known how quickly this can be done and how much money is needed, but it is toward this goal that the organization moves from project to project.

Initially, fundraising is built on a basic level: so that the organization does not close when the project ends and there are funding reserves,  so you do not have to lay off employees. But when planning, you also need to keep in mind the strategic level, for example, what events are planned to be held in the next three years, how much money needs to be found for these projects.

At the beginning of the training, Maxim asked the participants of the Summer School to write down how much money their organization needs to achieve its goals. Someone wrote specific amounts, others drew an infinity sign or millions of dollars. “There can be no infinite budget, it sounds too abstract. Fundraising is based on calculation and basic economic laws. For example, when I attended a fundraising training in the UK, local experts believed that the maximum amount of money an organization can raise is its current monthly budget, increased five times. I went to the training because the Children's Hospice had a global task - to raise 5 million dollars for construction and completion of a new building. We have already developed a project, everything was calculated. At the training, they immediately asked what the budget of the hospice is per year - 250 thousand dollars. And the coaches said that it is unlikely that it will be possible to raise 5 million, it is necessary to reduce costs. We have reduced the budget, however, to 4 million. It was possible to collect, but with the involvement of public funds. Initially, we understood that we, as a non-profit organization, could not handle the maintenance of such a large building. Therefore, an agreement was established: the hospital was state-owned, and the outpatient clinic belonged to the Children's Hospice.

From this example, it is clear that an NGO should have a goal, based on which a strategy is drawn up on what projects and activities should be used to achieve this goal. And the work of a fundraiser begins with understanding what the real budget of the organization is, what the money is spent on. Then the specialist starts working, then he manages to find money for basic expenses and there is a passion to look for funds already for the development of the NGO.

What are the myths in the field of fundraising

Help companies that have a lot of money

On the one hand, this is correct - you need to turn to large companies for help. But, on the other hand, everyone thinks so. As a result, large companies receive a large number of calls for help. And it's impossible to help everyone. Therefore, Maxim advised not to ignore medium and less well-known companies. “It's good if you manage to find a large company and it will cooperate with you for a long time. But the task of the fundraiser is to sketch at least 100 companies that you can contact and contact them all! Based on experience, I can say that 5-10 businesses will respond and this will already be a good result.

By the way, remember that it is not always necessary to contact the director of the company directly; other specialists can also deal with the distribution of assistance: secretaries, assistant managers, pr, HR, and even accountants. Look for the contact of a person who is directly involved in the consideration of such proposals and keep in close communication with him. If the employees of the company like what you do, they will tell you how best to proceed.”

Anonimity should be kept

From the experience of a trainer, a situation very often arises when a company wants to help, but does not want to talk about this help. “If they want it, we do it, but we talk all the time about why it's important to talk. You talk about it as an example and other companies will want to help with this example too. If we want a culture of charity in society, then we must say that this is right and good. You have done a good deed. Plus it is a matter of openness to society.”

Trainer from Belarus Maxim Podberezkin

Maxim emphasizes that many people think that it is better to give money directly for some kind of help, and not through an organization. Of course, it can be easier from one point of view. But, on the other hand, a public organization must constantly talk about its accountability, responsibility and the ability to allocate finances and resources more intelligently in terms of aid effectiveness.

Yes, fundraising is not easy. The organization has an additional responsibility. And it gets bigger the more money you manage to attract. But these are great opportunities and resources that help to produce visible and effective changes in society.

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.