Fundraising 07

1. Fundraising

Fundraising serves as the bridge between a shared dream and a new social reality.

Lol met z'n allen op de glijbaan!

Fundraising occurs all around the world. Where social need is high and resources are scarce, it often occurs with great ingenuity, as you’ll be able to see later in this chapter. Fundraising means to engage and mobilise people and organisations in order to support social change with money, services, goods, knowledge, time, and moral support. The mobilisation of resources (instead of funds) is actually a better definition, and therefore, in low- and middle-income countries it is also known as resource mobilisation.

You and your partner organisation are enthusiastic about your project; you see the results and impact on the lives of people there. It is important that this project is able to persevere and you are responsible for making this happen. For this, you will need resources, both financial resources and in the form of services, goods, knowledge, and time. This chapter will help you to raise funds in both your home country and the countries where projects are being carried out.

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2. Sources of income and fundraising methods

The five main financial sources from which a non-profit organisation can finance its activities are discussed individually below:

Funds from individuals

Fundraising through individuals is interesting and important. Individuals can link themselves to your organisation and increase public support. The more people that feel involved with your foundation, the more publicity it will receive. As a result, the goals you are pursuing will become known and considered important in society, whereby more people will support your foundation, either financially or by other means. Aside from money, individuals can also commit their time, knowledge, and network. This does require a great deal of commitment to your foundation, and for that reason it is important to invest a lot in the relationship that you have with the people involved with it. The term ‘friendraising’ is also sometimes used instead of fundraising.
What compels people to give

  • Involved in the problem
  • Duty (culture/religion)
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Personal experience
  • Recognition (of their generosity)
  • Because they are asked
  • Peer pressure
  • In commemoration (of a loved one)
  • Tax advantage

There are countless ways to raise funds from private individuals. The most important are:

  • Margje.nuEvents: a major source of income! Consider an art auction, a charity run, or a benefit dinner.
  • Direct email: people often prefer a personal email with news, a wish, or an appeal over an email aimed at a large group.
  • Periodic donation: regular donors. Emphasise the importance of a fixed donation, such as the continuity that this guarantees.
  • Diaspora fundraising: raising funds through people from the community/country in question, who have since immigrated to economically-stronger countries.
  • Collections: ask if you can place a collection box in a store (see below) or ask your local supermarket if you can set up a crate for people to donate their bottle vouchers to your foundation.
  • Personal soliciting: soliciting through people that you meet or already know, using a personal approach. Make sure that you have a good elevator pitch! See also our chapter entitled Communication and fundraising plan.
  • Soliciting on the street: Speak to people on the street, just like larger organisations do. This can seem intrusive to people, so you may want to do something like giving them a small gift in return: something representative of your project country, of course.
  • Large donations: ‘just because’ or for special occasions. For instance, rather than gifts for a 25th anniversary, guests are asked to donate to your charity.
  • Bequests: people can leave your foundation a certain amount of money upon their passing, which is established in their will. Draw people’s attention to this on your website.
  • Product sales: calendars, card games, clothing from your project country or containing your logo, sets of cards, cake and beverages at an event, etc. The possibilities to raise money in one way or another are endless. A product can also be a service that you offer: what are your marketable or serviceable talents? For instance, putting on a workshop, show, or a lecture?
  • Fundraising via new media: see our Communication and fundraising plan chapter for numerous examples.
  • Crowdfunding: a group of people donates a small percentage (money, resources, services) in order to reach a particular goal. Click here for more information.

A collection box at home

The Indian Association for the Welfare of the Handicapped placed 32,000 plastic collection boxes with families in and around the city of Calicut (ed.: Kozhikode). The organisation had built up this large, involved group over the course of four years. The annual average contribution per collection box was perhaps only 40 British pence, but, in total, the organisation has earned no less than 13,000 British pounds. The next challenge is to get each participant to give or raise more.

(Source: The Worldwide Fundraiser’s Handbook, Michael Norton)

Funds from institutions

There are various institutions that make funds available for social causes: charitable trusts and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Charitable trusts are institutions that support the social objective of their mission using the gains on their assets.. NGOs are institutions that raise funds and spend these according to their social mission. They regularly do so via other partner organisations. Wild Geese Foundation is an example of this.

If you wish to solicit funds from institutions, but are unsure which ones to approach, then consider the following:

  • Donors who have supported your organisation in the past
  • Donors from fellow organisations (look in their annual reports!)
  • Donors from fellow organisations in other countries
  • Annual reports and websites of specific institutions that you’re considering
  • Network meetings
  • Sponsors of sector-related conferences and trade fairs
  • Sector-related media
  • Special databases (sometimes paid)

You can also utilise this method when searching for suitable business partners.


Be strategic in soliciting grants through charitable trusts and NGOs, but do not just approach anyone! Consider the following:

  • Conduct sound research into the type of grants that people offer.
  • Develop a strong proposition (why do you do what you do, who are you, and what do you need? Also take a look at ‘Mission and vision’ in our Communication and fundraising plan chapter).
  • Demonstrate the impact of your project: that’s what it is about!
  • Take care in creating good-quality, readable material: ensure that it looks professional and reliable.
  • Invest in the relationship: make personal contact when possible.
  • Do not supply more information than requested: you do not want to irritate the assessor because he or she has to work through too much irrelevant information.
  • Use clear and concise language: ask others to take a critical look at your proposal.
  • Monitor deadlines: late is not professional!
  • Show accountability: be transparent as to what is and is not working.
  • Communicate changes in advance: then you will come across as capable and reliable.
  • Do not start the project before the grant is awarded: you don’t want to spend money that might not arrive.

Funds from businesses

The difference between the commercial and social sectors is diminishing. Businesses are becoming more social and social organisations more business-oriented. Businesses are more often focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Your charity can make use of this! With which business would your foundation like to join forces and what would that business find attractive about working with you? Make sure that it is a win-win situation and make proper arrangements! A good reputation, a tangible project, or an ambassador in the company will increase your chance of support from the business.

There are all sorts of possibilities for fundraising through a business. Money is but one of these and not necessarily the most profitable. For example, a business can:

  • Support an NGO via a CSR programme.
  • Sponsor events: publicity for the business!
  • Enhance staff gifts through a personal contribution: for example, as an option to donate the Christmas bonus.
  • Adopt a project: this school classroom in Bolivia is sponsored by X.
  • Lend out expert employees on a project basis: help with your administration, annual financial report, or experts on the content of your project.
  • Make services, expertise, materials, or accommodation available: print your brochure for free on spare paper, grant a space in the business premises for an event on Saturday, a training course that your staff may follow without charge.
  • Make available distribution or media outlets and their network: a greater outreach.
  • Include a social organisation flyer with their products: free publicity for your foundation.
  • Donate a percentage of their sales: a percentage that might not make a difference for them, but would quickly add up for you.
  • Bestow something in kind: bricks, wood, sand.

Consider a variety of types of businesses as well, such as:

  • Media agencies, marketing, PR, web services
  • Restaurants, tour operators
  • Retail chains and supermarkets
  • Banks, insurance agencies, and other service-oriented businesses
  • Construction companies
  • Businesses in the project country

Government funds

Raising funds from governments is not always relevant for small-scale organisations, because they seldom qualify. It is good to research this for your foundation. Government financing comes primarily in the form of grants for organisations, but more and more often also as support for a specific project. International governments offer grants, as do central, regional, and local governments. You can sometimes also find financing through foreign embassies, or – with expert support – through the European Union.

The awarding of government grants occurs in line with specific criteria and deadlines. It is increasingly common to hold public tenders, for which organisations can register. It is important to keep on top of new trends and policies to see where you can fit in.

As a small-scale foundation, it is best to seek grants from your local government. Perhaps your municipality would like to become a sister city of the city where your project takes place. If so, you may be able to count on some additional investment in your project. Check if there are international cooperation platforms in your region with which you can connect. Perhaps there is no financial support, but it is always interesting to collaborate and exchange tips with like-minded people.

Other options for funds

While they aren’t businesses or fund-granting institutions, you certainly should not overlook these options! Many small foundations experience great success in engaging:

  • Schools: children have a great deal of enthusiasm and often become readily socially-involved. A charity run or a charity festival tend to be well received. If you can tell a nice and interesting story and have good teaching materials, schools will certainly be interested in an afternoon lesson about your project and the project country.
  • Churches and other religious communities: some churches and mosques collect money not only for their own community, but also for goals in the context of poverty reduction, development cooperation, or welfare.
  • Service clubs like the Rotary, Lions, Round Table, or Junior Chamber International are aimed at service and contributing to society. They help organisations in the social and cultural fields, sometimes with financial support, and sometimes with the personal commitment of members.

Examples of fundraising activities vonk1Adopt-a-roof-tile or brick or chair – carwash, whereby all the children contribute the money to your charity – offer a fixed donorship – collect money for your cause through a world trip – ask for a gift for your cause at parties – collect at the annual walking marches – garage sale – eating for charity – give a goat as a gift – put on a special concert – collection box on the street – put on a television campaign – collect clothing – Christmas packages for the charity – donate proceeds of King’s Day sale – collect sponsors for your pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela – make things, like a bedspread for a shelter – deduct a portion of your wage – let a portion of your organisation be adopted – let volunteers make calls to recruit donors – make thank-you stamps – make it possible to donate online – fashion show – instead of snacking, save money for a charity – organise a party – organise house-to-house fundraising – organise a sporting event or a benefit competition to correspond with the retirement of a well-known athlete – bottle deposit campaign – send a letter with a pre-printed giro credit slip – hold a talent auction – sell a sponsored birthday calendar made by schoolchildren (here or there) – ask for text donations– ask for an additional entrance fee at a charity event – ask for money instead of gifts following the birth of your third child – ask for free advice if a consulting agency has an anniversary – solicit on the street and speak to passers-by – wine tasting – shave your head to raise money – leave a collection box in local stores… Source: Vonk! Fondsen werven met hoofd en hart – Petra Hoogerwerf

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3. Saving on costs

Aside from raising funds, you can also take a look at where you can save. Try to implement your plans without high costs. Consider the following within your organisation:

  • Who can either get, make, exchange, or borrow something?
  • Who can procure or arrange something?
  • Who can arrange something at a great discount?
  • Who has good ideas on what could be sponsored?
  • What type of knowledge and experience do your members have?



You may also be able to save on external costs:

  • Ask regional training centres, universities of applied sciences, or universities if they would like to conduct research or supply interns. Perhaps the social services are searching for work-experience positions, or the probation service is searching for positions for clients with community service.
  • Search for volunteers in local community centres or via a volunteering agency in your city. Of course, you can also Google ‘volunteer’ and the name of your village, city, or region.
  • Accommodation can be a major expense. Look to see if you can rent office space from another large institution, one that is comparable to your organisation or that wants to support you. Sometimes the municipality will also be prepared to help.
  • Check if you can cooperate with other organisations and can either share, rent, or temporarily borrow something.
  • Organisations or individuals can offer services that are relevant to their core business for free or with a discount. Consider an accounting firm that can help you with your annual report, or a printing company that can offer you a discount for your new brochure.
  • Become a member of your local association for NGOs/ charities. Often these offer their members a discount on useful services.
  • Contests! There are many competitions in which you can participate. If you are active and smart in this, you can win a pile of money and resources. Success factors include mobilising your supporters to vote, describing your objective in a simple and eye-catching manner, and positively standing out. Examples of contests include (websites in Dutch):

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4. Tips for authentic fundraising

Your fundraising activities will be the most successful if they are authentic. When people feel that you are working with all your heart and soul to help the project to succeed, they will be more easily inspired and feel more readily involved in the project. For example, communicate using the ‘why’, as is explained in the Communication and fundraising plan chapter. Other tips will follow below!

Tip 1: Engage in conversation and invite your supporters to participate

The focus in fundraising lies in securing long-term loyalty from donors. Or: we are interested in people’s money, but much less in their ideas and other forms of involvement. This is a missed opportunity and an outdated idea. Don’t talk to but rather with your donors and engage them.

Engaging young people

Young people may seem difficult to approach, but yet they often do feel involved in world problems and want to make a concrete contribution. The organisation Dance4life plays into this by informing students worldwide about their body and about safe sex, getting them to dance for life and to raise funds for HIV/AIDS projects. Dance4life couples the interests of youth with activities they enjoy. In 2006, this resulted in 10,000 Dutch students, together with tens of thousands of youth in countries like Tanzania, South Africa, Russia, and Germany, dancing in solidarity and collecting money for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Tip 2: Make your fundraising personal

Be personal in both senses: by actually targeting the person you approach and by committing with your own personality. After all, people give to people.

Tip 3: Act professional

Prepare yourself well: know what you’re talking about, who your audience is, and what keeps them busy. And stick to set agreements.

Tip 4: Be passionate for what you do, and dare to show this

Our work requires that we believe and are emotionally involved in it. Thus, only commit yourself to a goal to which you actually can connect. Don’t be afraid to show this passion.

Tip 5: Support what you believe in and give before asking

It is a strong idea to set a good example as this lends you credibility.

To give and to get

The African Women’s Development Fund is a women’s fund that finances projects for women’s rights in Africa. Fundraising is the backbone of the organisation and the management board plays a leading role in this. They have introduced a ‘give and get’ policy, whereby each board member has committed to annually giving a donation of $250 and raising $5,000 for the women’s fund. This policy appears to be successful and, aside from money and support, yields a sense of credibility among new significant donors.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, AWDF, Ghana


Tip 6: Build sustainable partnerships and cooperate with your project partner

You tend to invest plenty of time and energy in new relationships, so you should be careful in your choices. In the beginning of a collaboration, the most mistakes are made and the benefit is often relatively minimal. Great strides are made in a second and third year, due to acquired experience. By working together, you will become stronger, with more room for investment, support, and visibility.

Tip 7: Seek balance in giving and taking

In the relationship with donors, it is important to find a good balance in what you request. Often, more is asked than offered, or the supply doesn’t meet the demand. Therefore, attuning your request is essential, but you should also do something unexpected at some point. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money (if any), but it can make a key difference in the bond someone feels with your organisation.

Tip 8: Be transparent with regard to the work and your spending

Public support for social organisations is vulnerable, so be careful with your public image. Supply adequate information and communicate figures and programme results on a regular basis. Present these clearly and in a logical manner. Ensure that people are able to ask questions. Don’t hesitate to report the bad news alongside the good, and explain what you’ve learned from it.

Tip 9: It isn’t always about money

Sometimes, someone can give something that would far exceed his or her potential financial donation. For example, when that person opens up and approaches his or her network, offers the organisation some needed expertise, or taps into a distribution or media outlet. In short, be creative in your requests.

Tip 10: Learn your lessons

In a learning organisation, the word ‘mistake’ doesn’t exist, but instead there are ‘learning experiences’. Successes and innovations don’t just fall out of the sky. They are almost always the result of hard work and repeated attempts.

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5. Fundraising in partner countries

The world is changing! Click here to see what has changed.


In barely fifteen years, the global distribution of wealth has dramatically changed. Countries that used to be called ‘developing countries’ now hold an active share in the world economy. That also means that ‘aid’ no longer goes solely from Europe to the global South. Emerging economies now have the opportunities to do something about poverty in their own countries. Your charity can use this to its advantage! This chapter discusses why and how to enlist local sources in your partner country.

Fundraising in partner countries, or ‘domestic resource mobilisation’, does not only relate to money, but also to contributions in kind, such as knowledge, networks, time, and goods.

Why fundraise there as well?

Fundraising in partner countries…

  1. Contributes to the financial sustainability of an organisation. After all, foreign financial support is declining or taking other paths: other countries, other projects. A small-scale charity, be it in the Netherlands or elsewhere, doesn’t exist in perpetuity.
  2. Reduces dependence on foreign donors. In many countries, such as Ethiopia, Ghana, India, and Kenya, legislation exists (or is in the works) that severely restricts the possibility to receive foreign funds.
  3. Reduces dependence on the local government.
  4. Spreads out financial risks.
  5. Offers a better guarantee that local priorities take precedence. Organisations are thus not limited by possible conditions bound to foreign financing (‘earmarks’), which determine that a certain topic must be prioritised.
  6. Contributes to anchoring the organisation in the local community. Through financial or other support of the project and respect for local priorities, the community will feel involved with the project and the organisation.
  7. Grants persuasive power: it is a testament of the support of the society to the mission of the organisation.
  8. Offers legitimacy. A project that is financed or co-financed by a local base of support can indicate that their mission will be supported by a wide group of people, and will therefore have more influence as a result. For instance, with the local government, if an organisation wishes to lay claim to certain services to which they are entitled.
  9. Offers an opportunity to reach out to and involve the growing middle class.

What can you do?

Where do you stand when it comes to local fundraising? Do you think that it would be possible within the project that your initiative supports?

When in doubt, consider the following: how was your partner organisation founded? Who paid for that? How did they arrange the space for meetings? That’s also fundraising! What is the personal contribution in kind? Money, volunteer work? What percentage of the fundraising already occurs locally? What tools have already been utilised? What contact network does your partner organisation have? How is the relationship with the local government?

Discuss all of this with your partner organisation. Are there any local practices with regard to fundraising? One example is a gathering aimed at helping others, which is known as a harambee in Kenya, mink’a in the Andes, naffir in Sudan, and gotong-royong in Indonesia. Another example would be the Ubuntu in southern Africa: a universal philosophy that embodies humanity toward others, so helping your neighbour would be quite common.

Which key people (village elders, religious leaders) would need to be involved in order to make the fundraising a success? What local practices or techniques can you utilise for fundraising? For example, in large parts of Africa and a couple of Asian countries, mobile banking is very popular, using tools like M-Pesa. How could you put this to use toward your fundraising goal?

In short: sit together and discuss these questions. Try to chart the types of cashflows that exist, which target groups have potential, and what timeframe you both have in mind. The possibilities will surprise you! In this way, your partner organisation will become more powerful and independent, through which the sustainability and success of your project will continue to grow. Good luck!

A tip for more information on local fundraising

Wild Geese Foundation has developed the programme ‘Change the Game’, which is aimed at fundraising in partner countries. You can find more information about it here.

Examples of local fundraising

Now, how do you tackle local fundraising? How big are you thinking; what form will you choose for your activity, and how do you make it successful? Naturally, the possibilities for local fundraising are endless. Consider this together: what would work in your partner organisation’s country? Find some inspiration in these diverse examples from the Action 4 Children programme!

India: street theatre

Jalpaiguri HridayJalpaiguri Hriday2

The programme ‘Education for All’ wants to increase literacy and access to school for girls in slums in Sukanta Pally, in West Bengal, India.

  • Fundraising activity Jalpaiguri HRIDAY: street theatre and dance put on by the girls at the school with a meeting explaining the project
  • Target group: the community in the same slum
  • Resources: guests and community donate, the founders advocate for the progress of the project
  • Revenue: €100 with an initial investment of €25 (Return on Investment [ROI] = 100/25 = 4). The most important result here was that the community became involved in the project and sent girls to school. Due to the success of this activity, more organisations began setting up similar projects in other parts of the slum.

Brazil: recycled jewellery

Mobilização coletiva3Mobilização coletiva4

Camapet is an organisation in the Brazilian city of Salvador that is committed to environmental protection, recycling, and environmental education.

  • Fundraising activity Campanha Mobilização Coletiva: a fashion show with recycled jewellery (made by artists with recycled bottles from Camapet) and a media campaign
  • Target group: network of organisations, general public
  • Resources: guests and community donate, or purchase jewellery at the show or online
  • Revenue: €1,275 with an initial investment of €160 (ROI: 8), and aside from this, Camapet experienced increased visibility and solidarity via the newspapers, TV, and websites.

Kenya: goat auction


Nkoilale Community Development Organization wants to construct two schools in Nkoilale and inform parents about the safety of all the school children.

  • Fundraising activity: a sheep and goat auction. In addition, many meetings regarding the construction of the school and the coordination of the auction were organised with involved individuals and the regional stakeholders
  • Target group: parents, students, local community
  • Resources: donations of goats and sheep that were fattened up for the auction and later sold, donations of materials and money for the construction of the school, meetings
  • Revenue: €13,337, with an initial investment of €641 (ROI: 21). But not just that! Other results were the involved community, more unity and cohesion in the community, and better-developed leadership qualities among youth and women. In the evaluation of the lessons learned, the organisation mentioned that it was very valuable and necessary to involve the community and the leaders so intensively and to show patience in this. The project is now carried out by the entire community, which makes this a sustainable project.

Action 4 Children: skills and tips

Here you will find a booklet with further examples, but also practical tips. It was compiled by Soul City Institute, a Wild Geese partner organisation in South Africa, based on an earlier publication by Wild Geese itself. It illustrates that many activities that we organise in the Netherlands to bring in money can also be implemented in other countries in a modified form.

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6. Background information


  • The Worldwide Fundraiser’s Handbook, a Resource Mobilisation Guide for NGOs and Community Organisations, Michael Norton, Directory of Social Change, 2003 (2nd edition)


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