Innovative financing

Access to funding: what strategies for small organizations ?





The majority of feminist and women’s and girls’ rights organisations around the world are underfunded, according to a survey conducted by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). The survey, which targeted more than a thousand organisations, found that two-thirds of the applicants have annual budgets of less than USD 50,000. The reason for this trend is the reality on the ground, as women’s rights organisations are generally small and medium-sized organisations (limited size, human resources, etc.). As a result, large funds are not reserved for them – funds that would, of course, allow them to be more active on the ground. Thus, these women’s and girls’ rights organisations are under-resourced and often have organisational gaps.

In order to address the challenge of access to funding, small and medium-sized organisations could focus on two central issues:

– Firstly, complying with the strict conditions required by donors, namely: legal status, constitution and working rules, management, track record, good accounting record, registration of more than two or three years, staff composition, … 

– The second step would be to develop their absorption capacity. Donors and organisations are often caught in a vicious circle where small women’s organisations are seen as lacking the necessary absorptive capacity to develop. For this reason, their funding does not increase, whereas if they had more financial resources, their organisational capacity would increase.

Donors and funders tend to work with relatively large organisations and not directly with small organisations at the local level. This is due to the work and effort required to manage small grants as well as to supervise the work of actors in grassroots organisations. Funding requirements tend to be onerous and by default favour larger organisations, which in some cases may work with smaller ones for implementation. It would therefore be necessary to find out what strategies to put in place to support these small and medium-sized organisations so that all actors, regardless of their size, can better deploy on the ground with all the necessary resources they need.

For organisations specialising in the issue of FGM, an effective solution to overcome this challenge would be

– The solicitation of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) 

– As well as women’s funds. 

The first step is to finalise your organisation’s overall fundraising strategy by knowing your organisation’s requirements – immediate/short-term or long-term funding needs.

Then explore common portals or search engines of NGOs and donor organisations/institutions. The next steps are related to donor research: tools and techniques, starting donor mapping. In its study, Funds for NGO shows the main considerations to look for to help in this process – these are described as the 4 C’s: consistency, capacity, timing and ticking boxes for eligibility.

In addition, in order to mobilise more funding (including new sources of funding (private donors, foundations, diplomatic institutions, …) various strategies can be mobilised:

– How to better communicate on the projects in order to highlight the change it brings to the women and girls affected by FGM, to the community, and to society as a whole?

 It is important to know that the donor does not only finance a project but also accompanies a vision, a change, already initiated even on a very small scale. Communicating on these project results is good to show their impact and the change that these results produce in the lives of the people concerned is even better and speaks much more to the donors.

In this respect, careful communication, including storytelling (being able to show explicitly an effective account of the project, its rationale and the change it produces, a reality-based communication of the project with which everyone can identify and participate in the desired change), is a central element. Global Giving has produced a checklist that shows some important aspects such as : focusing your story on one character, chronicling a transformation and conveying the emotions of your character

– The second solution is to be transparent and accountable to donors.

– Finally, demonstrating, evaluating and measuring the social impact of projects is an essential step.

To better discuss the subject, we will try to answer the following questions :

  1. What do you think small organisations should do to access more funding?
  2. How important do you think storytelling is for accessing funds?
  3. What mechanisms can we put in place so that small organisations do not feel they are competing with large organizations ? Shouldn’t we redefine how we work together and move towards mutual support and capacity building ? 
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