Fundraising is a challenge for all NGOs, but especially for small and grassroots NGOs who may not have the expertise or capacity to write a great funding request. Many small NGOs think that small grants are few and far between, but research indicates otherwise. When we looked into US Foundation grants to Tanzanian NGOs, we found that nearly half of the grants provided were small (from $1,000-$10,000) with many of these grants going to small and grass roots NGOs. Many small NGOs are successful, so take this as an inspiration and try as well!
Here are some useful steps to set you on the right path.
Research the donors
Before you even begin to write a funding request you should do the necessary researchto find donors interested in NGOs like yourself.
- Do they fund NGOs in my country
- Do they fund the work we are you engaged in?
- Do they provide small grants
If you can answer yes to all three questions the donor is worth pursuing.
How do you research donors? Follow some of these tried and tested steps:
- Check the websites and annual reports of NGOs that work in the same country or region and are doing similar work, for their supporters and donors. Many will list their donors and this is a good place to start.
- Check databases and on-line directories.
- Do an-line search using your country and program area.
- Ask partners, colleagues, and current donors for suggestions.
Many donors who give small grants have a tested system in place through which they want to receive proposals. Make sure you check the website thoroughly. If the donor gives guidelines on how to get in contact and how to apply, follow these guidelines strictly. Watch out for deadlines and special requirements.
Connect with the donors before sending a request letter
If you are not sure in which form the donor would like to receive funding requests, a request letter is a good solution. But before sending the funding request letter, start reaching out to the donors via email and phone/Skype. Ask for an in-person or virtual meeting. Be persistent. When you connect ask them about their priorities. Explain how your program can help them solve the problem they want to solve. Ask whether you can send them a short outline of a program they might be interested in.
Top tips to develop a great request letter
Once the donor has expressed an interest, or if the donor does not respond – you are ready to submit the request letter. What are the main points you should keep in mind for a great letter?
- Include your contact information
- Keep it short. One to two pages is best.
- Keep it to the point. Don’t add content that is not relevant.
- Check your spelling. Nothing ends up in the trash bin quicker than a request letter full of spelling mistakes.
- Check grammar. Have other read and edit your request letter.
- Follow the instructions given by the donor, if any, carefully.
- Follow a proper outline: For example:
- Contact info
- Background & Justification
- Total budget
Follow up and persist
Many donors receive thousands of funding requests each year and can only provide funding to a small number of NGOs. You will often receive a “no” from a donor, but don’t give up too quickly. Be persistent and keep trying. If you follow the tips outlined above, at some point you will find the right donor for your organization and be successful.
Do you want to learn more about request letters and see a great example? Check this article with a sample of a request letter: Everything you need to know about Letters of Inquiry (request letters) – with Sample
Do you need more information about Small Grants? Check this article: 5 Tips for Small Grant Applications