Being a successful fundraiser is difficult for every NGO as it is. But it is the most difficult for brand-new NGOs since most donors only want to collaborate with organizations that already have a track record of successful collaborations. It resembles job applications: Employers want you to have experience, but to get the experience you need a job, which you don´t get if you don´t have experience – a vicious circle that does not seem to have an end to it. There are two ways to get around this for small and new NGOs, though, that make it easier to get funding and to break into the world of grants. In this article, we will give you an idea of what you have to do to be a successful fundraiser even if your NGO cannot show a long record of successful cooperations.
Why do donors only want to work with established NGOs?
Sometimes it is difficult to understand and accept for new NGOs that donors prefer to work with organizations that have been established for a long time. New ideas and initiatives might be just as good as old ones and deserve a chance. At the same time, donors have to make responsible decisions about their money. In their view, it is much safer to work with NGOs that have already shown that their ability to deliver on their promises. This is why they prefer NGOs they have a working history with or that can present evidence for their past work.
Partnerships with other NGOs can help
One way to work around this is to enter partnerships with NGOs that have been established a while ago and have experiences with grants. This way, you can benefit from the track record these NGOs built but still implement your own ideas and projects. While this system is very good to convince donors of your trustworthiness, it is also a great way for your own organization to learn from more experienced ones.
Your partner can be an NGO that works in the same field or in the same geographical area as you do. Of course, a partner organization will also want to benefit from the partnership, so think of ways that both of you can get something out of it before proposing a cooperation. Also, follow a certain set of rules to make sure that your partnership is fruitful. Applying for joint grants is a great way to make yourself known and set your first steps in the fundraising world.
Start with small grants
If you are just starting work with your brand-new NGO, starting with very small grants is a good idea. Small grants generally do not exceed 5000 to 20000 USD and are also called seed-funding. While many of the big donors expect their grantees to have a lot of experience and to be in the position to fulfill all requirements without problems, mall-grants-donors are typically much more understanding. They know that a new NGO will not have references or the perfect management system in place, so it is a very good way to start with a small project and build on this in the future. You thereby get access to funding – albeit a small amount in the beginning – and have the opportunity to learn and grow with your organization.
These two ways are great entries in the fundraising world. It allows for the collection of experiences on the one hand, and to show your reliability as a partner further down the road. If you keep trying and working hard, bigger donors will eventually be willing to support your work too.