How to Start Looking for Potential Donors

Once you clarified your main goals and areas of intervention, you will start looking for potential donors to develop projects and activities. There are two main general strategies to fundraise. The first is to design projects in relation to specific calls. The second is to design projects that matter to you and your community and then contact potential donors asking whether they could become your partners independently from existing calls for proposals.

Majority of NGOs follow the first route because it is easier to raise money by answering to calls for which a budget has been already allocated. Further, many development agencies and private foundations do not accept unsolicited proposals. If you have written a project and you cannot find an open call that fits your needs, you might consider other routes such as individual fundraising or the establishment of partnerships with your local government (which might have available funding for projects of local importance).

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How to Research Donors supporting Projects in Your Field of Action

First of all, give yourself time to familiarise with existing funding schemes and also to compile lists of relevant funding bodies in your field of action. You could implement two main strategies.

First, you could start by looking into similar or relevant projects implemented in your geographical area and keep track of how each project has been funded. You could use the following table as guideline.

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Name of the Organisation Name of the Project Duration of the Project (with dates) Funding Bodies Project Manager (Name and Contact Details)

Once your list is ready you will be able to detect the names of funding bodies that have sponsored similar activities in your region. Rank them by highlighting the names of sponsors that invested more money and for longer periods of time. Do a simple search in the Internet to understand how to get in contact with your first list of potential donors.

For instance, if there were international agencies involved such as the United Nations you need to record where their local office is and who is the person in charge of keeping relationships with local NGOs. Write down names and numbers in another list, which will become your first list of potential donors to get in contact with. You might use the following table as guideline.

Potential Sponsor Name Existing schemes  in your region Existing open calls for proposals with deadlines Closed calls that will be re-opened in the future Local office/person in charge for your geographical area

 Second, you could search for agencies and foundations working locally and internationally to promote activities in your same field of action. For instance, if your organisation is concerned with the promotion of human rights, you could start with the UN website and follow relevant links to groups working within the UN. In this case, you will be re-directed to the UNHRC’s website (the United Nation Human Rights Council). Once here, you should start by looking into the countries where they operate in order to understand which programmes they are implementing in your geographic area and what is the main focus of their ongoing activities. Pay attention to the “useful links” box where you will find relevant links to other organisations working in collaboration with or expanding the scopes of UNHRC.

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Name of the Organisation and its scopes (use keywords) Existing projects/major funding schemes in your region Existing open calls for proposals with deadlines Closed calls that will be re-opened in the future Local office/person in charge for your geographical area

These lists will be of crucial importance for your fundraising activities. As such, remember to keep these files organised and accessible to all the members of your organisation. You could develop your own archiving system in relation to your own needs and tailored to the skills of your team members.




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