Fundraising for Animal Advocacy
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Fundraising for Animal Advocacy

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This resource guide is for animal advocates looking to get funding in the first 1-3 years of their work. It assumes that you already have an idea and a strategy for your charity. It covers the absolute basics and provides a list of opportunities and the contact details of some consultants who can provide some customized help.

This doesn’t contain everything you need know and we don’t claim it’s a fundraising bible, but we hope that it will help some of you get initial funding for your project!

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Please Note: Before you start fundraising for your project, it’s important that you carefully think about cost-effectiveness and check that you aren’t duplicating efforts. You can ask if anyone knows of similar projects in our #03-help-requests Slack channel. Sign up here if you’re not on our Slack.

If you would like to contribute to this wiki or suggest making any changes, please submit a resource here, email us at hello@joinhive.org, or DM Kevin Xia on Slack.

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Find this useful? Tell us! 😊
Acknowledgements❤️️

Thanks a lot to Çağrı Mutaf, Unny Nambudiripad, Che Green, Ana Barreiro, Liz Wheeler and Monica Chen for providing feedback and suggestions for this wiki!

⭐️Start here: Fundraising for your project 101

Fundraising can be very challenging in the movement due to only a small percentage of animal funding going to farmed animals.

Giving USA’s 2023 Annual Report shows that Americans gave $499.33 billion to charity. Giving overall had a 3.4% decline compared to 2021 (516.65 billion). Their 2022 report noted a 0.7% decrease. Only 3% of giving went towards Environment/Animals, with a decline of 8.9% in overall funds. Approximately 1% of charitable giving is awarded to charities focused on animal causes; even less is directed to farmed animal protection.

Currently there are around 300 million dollars of funding in the movement. It may sounds like a lot, but it’s distributed among many organisations (around 500+), many of which are funding constrained (meaning that they can do more work but they don’t have the money to do it).

However many organisations succeed in getting funds required for their work, so with effort you can do so too! Funding has significantly increased in the past 10 years and there are some efforts to increase funding in the movement.

A *very* simplified explanation on how to fundraise for absolute beginners

  1. Figure out what your programmes are and what’s your minimum and ideal budgets are.
  2. Look through opportunities (listed below) and note down a couple that may be a good fit for your project. Not all funders fund all the projects, usually a funder is particularly excited about a specific type of projects. For example, Open Philanthropy is more interested in projects that will help millions of animals rather than individual animals (e.g. in sanctuaries), and they are a better fit for projects which are 3 years and older with budgets over 250k. Karuna Foundation is interested in projects related to veganism more than welfare improvements. A good tip is look at funders' 990s (propublica.org) to see what charities they've supported in the past, which usually indicates what type of work they fund.
  3. Before you speak to funders, ideally speak to someone in the movement who is an experienced fundraiser and can confirm your initial funder list selection. They can also provide tips on what each funder might value most so that you can tailor your proposal. You can ask in the #helprequests channel.
  4. Timing is very important. Some funders are much more likely to fund new projects without proof of concept, and some will only consider you once you’ve made some impact and are more established. Approaching the wrong funder for your current stage may make an unfavourable impression.
  5. Connect with the funders. You could seek a connection (i.e., a previous grant recipient) who can make an introduction or provide a testimonial, which is a good first impression.
  6. If you can’t find a connection to the funder, reach out yourself. This can be an email, a LinkedIn or Slack message, meeting them at a conference or filling out a form. It’s always best to get an opportunity to speak to the funder before you fill out the application because you might get additional information on what the funder is looking for in a project.
  7. After you receive a result on your application, regardless of the outcome, make sure you have a call or a meeting with the funder (you can request it) or if they are not available, ask for feedback via email. It’s very important to understand what went well in the application and what you can improve for next time.
  8. Remember that fundraising is a long-term game. It’s heavily based on relationship and trust building. Speak to other founders and leaders about how they fundraise and take your time to learn about the landscape. Some funders won’t fund you until you have proven that you can deliver results.
  9. It is possible that your project isn’t funded for some time, so make sure that you have plan B for not receiving funding at all. Some applications take 6 months to hear back, so looking at their website for a timeline (if available) is always a good idea.
  10. Don’t get discouraged if you get rejected. Most best charities have gotten rejected at least once, but it hasn’t stopped them from doing their work. Learn as much as you can from a rejection but don’t overupdate on it. E.g. if a funder said your work didn’t seem very “cost-effective”, it can be a sign that it’s not the right donor for you. A “no” now doesn’t mean a “no forever”.

Non-conventional and underrated ways to fundraise for your project

Funding in the movement is relatively limited at the moment because there are more groups that can do potentially impactful work than funders who are interested in supporting it. It’s not a given that your new project will receive enough money right when you start it.

Here are some ideas to keep the project going while you take your time to build momentum and trust with more conventional funders.

Please note: you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your physical and mental health, or having to give up what makes you happy, e.g. your family, community, hobbies or relationships. So please make sure you consider your circumstances when using these tips.

  1. Consider running your project on a volunteer/part-time basis, so that you still have an income from your other job while doing it. This can include moving to your project part-time and freelancing on the side to cover your expenses.
  2. Consider E2G2W -- Earning to Give to Work. Get a high-paying job that will have significant money left over after your expenses, then save it to provide a seed fund for yourself. You will be able to use it to pay yourself an initial salary while you’re fundraising for more.
  3. If you work at a big for-profit organisation, they can do something called “a donation matching” for your charity. You can start your charity, donate to it from your own salary, and your company may match the amount. However, you should also consider the ethical implications of this funding depending on what organisations you work for.
  4. If your project has costs, such as platform or subscriptions costs, consider reaching out to the cost providers to get them for free or get a big discount. In my experience, if you phrase it right, it can be pretty successful.
  5. Consider turning your project into a partially for-profit initiative, e.g. providing a pro-bono service to those who can’t afford it but charge others. You can also service for-profit businesses, even if they are outside the movement, to keep covering your expenses. If you do this, however, make sure that there is no conflict of interest (e.g. you may want to campaign against these for-profit organisations later).
  6. Network and speak about your project - you might be able to find an individual who doesn’t work for a foundation but is earning to give (which means they earn more money than they want/need to have, so they give a part of their money away for charitable causes). They can often provide a small seed fund to get you going.
  7. If your project is a community project, consider running a crowdfunder or Patreon to see if the community members are prepared to keep it going from their personal donations.
  8. Occasionally, one of the co-founders might be able to either provide the seed fund or take no or lower salary. You shouldn’t hire someone just because of that reason: make sure they are a good fit for the role first.
  9. If possible, consider reducing your expenses in a creative way, e.g. moving to a cheaper area, a smaller apartment or back in with your parents, house sitting to replace accommodation and other ideas. It may not be a sustainable solution long-term, but we know some charity founders who have done this and it kept them going until they got more funding.
  10. If you need help with your project, consider hiring volunteers rather than employees at first. Many people have 1-2 hours a day that they would be willing to put towards your project either because they believe in it or they would like to develop their skills and/or their CV. To professionalise our movement, it’s important that we don’t use volunteers for everything, but when you’re only starting and it’s only for a few hours, it can be a big help. You can ask for volunteer help in our #help-requests channel on Slack (people have found volunteers there successfully before!)
  11. Consider applying to an incubator such as Charity Entrepreneurship or Kickstart for Good because they provide an initial scholarship and seed funding, which will help you in the first year.

Early but important steps to get your project funded

Fundraising is a long-term game and it requires careful relationship building to succeed.

  1. It’s important to present your project to as many people as possible and build relationships and trust before you ask for funding.
    1. Often the easiest way to get funding is to be known for what you do so that the funders approach you instead. Take your time to communicate with the community about your project. Here are some ideas on how to do this:

    2. Post about your project often on the community spaces you belong to, such as the IAA Slack space
    3. Post about your project regularly on LinkedIn. A good rule of thumb is to post “until people are sick of your project”. Because this is when people really remember what you do.
    4. Ask IAA (us!) to include your new project in our monthly newsletter.
    5. Create a simple newsletter and send it regularly, ideally monthly but quarterly is good too. You can submit your newsletter to our monthly updates to get more audience and share it on Slack in the #news-updates channel.
    6. Talk about how your project is needed, timely, useful or different from other projects. Answer these questions as FAQs on your pages so that the community has clarity on where you stand.
  2. Build an understanding of what the funders are interested in:
    1. Go on the websites of the funders, read their “About us” page and any materials they put out such as reports and recent grants page. Check out the employees’ recent posts on LinkedIn or any podcast episodes or blogs.
    2. If you don’t feel confident to speak to funders yet, speak to other experienced non-profit leaders and fundraising professionals in the movement and ask them about the the funders and their preferences. Most people are happy to share knowledge.
    3. Surprisingly, many charities are happy to talk about how they are funded. You can often find this information on their website, or you can talk to the fundraisers to see what they can share. If you can find a charity working on similar projects or in a similar area, chances are their funders might be interested in your project too.
    4. Ask for an introduction to the funders from the non-profit leaders you know or request a meeting with the funders directly. Meet with them to understand what they are excited about funding
      1. What are you excited to fund at the moment?
      2. What have been some of your best grants?
      3. What are you not looking to fund?
      4. How can we be helpful?
      5. You can also ask for advice about your specific project or strategy in general, depending on the funder’s strengths. Getting the advice is useful for you, but it also shows that you are thoughtful and have considered the opinions of experienced people in the movement.

    5. At the end of the meeting, ask if the funder would like to keep in touch. For example, you can send them a follow-up email with a summary of your organisation. If you have capacity, you can send a regular update/newsletter about your progress.
  3. Learn how to tell stories about your impact. This is a very underrated skill for fundraisers but all donors love to hear stories that demonstrate your real impact.
    1. We have some storytelling resources listed in resources below, so you can check them out if you would like to brush up on your skills.

📝Fundraising databases and other opportunities

See in wide view

If you’d like to make amendments or be removed from this list, please email hello@joinhive.org from your organisation’s email address.

Most opportunities listed

NameURLDeadline (31.12. = year-round)DetailsGrant size (if applicable)Tags

Not only relevant for African organisations

Database
March 17, 2024

Distributed once every year, applications are around February each year.

> 25k10-25k
New organisationsEarly-stage organisationsEstablished organisations
April 30, 2024

Assessed once every year, applications are around April each year.

A large database of funders, grantees and grants in the US, but not as targeted to effective animal advocacy as some other grants listed here.

Database
March 5, 2024

Not eligible: • Projects involving or relying on invasive procedures on live animals • Individuals or teams not associated with an eligible entity listed above • Entities not based in the U.S. or Canada

10-25k> 25k
New organisationsEarly-stage organisationsEstablished organisations
June 30, 2024
December 31, 2024

Gives to local grassroots plant-based or social justice initiatives.

< 1k
Foundation

Collection of granters with details and requirements. Nearly comprehensive but not always updated (last updated 2022)

Database
December 1, 2024

Gives to a variety of initiatives that help farmed animals

1-10k10-25k> 25k
Foundation
April 24, 2024

A funding circle for meta charities (charities that support other charities to succeed)

> 25k
Funding circle

For incubated charities only - you need to apply and be accepted into the CE programme to be eligible for this funding and this usually means building from a CE-researched idea as they are less excited for existing ideas.

10-25k> 25k
IncubatorNew ideas only

A list of Asia funding opportunities

Database
January 31, 2024

Supports academic and artistic projects that raise public awareness about animal rights

Foundation
December 31, 2024

List proposals and get them noticed via the platform. We’ve noticed that animal ideas are unlikely to get funded, but it may be good for attention. You can also apply to be a regrantor.

1-10k
Regranter

A very new funder, not currently accepting applications but planning to starting in May 2024.

Foundation
May 26, 2024

A new incubator for non-profits aiming to reduce animal suffering, promote plant-based diets from ProVeg. Doesn’t have a seed fund but covers your expenses during the incubator and will help you get introduced to funders.

IncubatorNew ideas only
December 31, 2024

All-year-round applications, focusing on cost-effective interventions.

10-25k> 25k
New organisationsEarly-stage organisations

Funds research projects related to removing animals from the food system.

December 31, 2024

A large group of venture capitalists, foundations, trusts, non-profits, and individual investors who share a similar investment thesis and want to accelerate mainstream adoption of products and services that will make a difference in the lives of animals, people and that are better for the planet.

December 31, 2024

Fund project-related expenses like software, only for orgs with budgets <500k.

1-10k
FoundationGrassrootsEarly-stage organisations

For BIPOC individuals. To be eligible for this grant, your organization should have less than $200,000 in expenses

GrassrootsEarly-stage organisationsNew organisationsEstablished organisations
November 3, 2024

Grants to organisations who do cage-free work. Applicants must be members of OWA.

> 25k
GrassrootsEstablished organisationsEarly-stage organisationsNew organisations
June 1, 2024

Give grants to plant-based campaigns around the world quarterly.

1-10k10-25k> 25k
Established organisationsGrassroots
December 31, 2024

1k seed grants to small projects

< 1k
FoundationGrassrootsNew organisations
December 31, 2024

1k seed grants to small projects

< 1k1-10k
GrassrootsNew organisations
June 1, 2024

Global grants, has two grants: a seed and a bigger Thrive grant.

1-10k> 25k10-25k
Established organisationsGrassrootsNew organisations
July 2, 2024

Find the current call here.

10-25k1-10k
GrassrootsNew organisationsEarly-stage organisationsEstablished organisations
December 31, 2024

From Vegan Grants: Our Mission: We fund advocacy that reaches a mainstream and/or influential audience with a compelling vegan diet or menu change message in a cost-effective way. Our Vision: A Vegan World

10-25k> 25k
GrassrootsEstablished organisationsNew organisations
December 31, 2024

Grants for vegan campaigns and grassroots vegan activism.

1-10k
GrassrootsEstablished organisations
April 15, 2024

Grants for initiatives run by women. Organizations with an annual budget of $500,000 USD or less are eligible.

1-10k
New organisationsEarly-stage organisationsEstablished organisationsGrassroots
December 31, 2024

They accept very few unsolicited applications and are likely to approach you if they think your project is a good fit. You can be asked to be referred by another community member if you think your project might be considered. To learn more about what they are interested it, check out their latest grants.

> 25k
Established organisations
December 29, 2023

“I’m most interested in charities that pursue novel ways to change complex systems, either through technological breakthroughs, new social institutions, or targeted political change”. Last year Legal Impact for Chickens got a grant.

> 25k1-10k10-25k
Early-stage organisationsNew organisationsGrassrootsEstablished organisations

“At this time, Phauna conducts grantmaking by invitation only. However, we welcome […] Due to our limited staffing resources, we will only reach out to projects that demonstrate the strongest alignment with our current funding priorities. General inquiries about the foundation or grant activities will not be answered. […]”

“The Voiceless Grants Program focuses exclusively on the root causes of animal exploitation and works to shift the anti-animal values, beliefs and assumptions that shape our political, social, legal and economic systems. Rather than working under existing attitudes, we support transformative, disruptive stances, visionary projects, partners and ideas, that will challenge the status-quo, ensure animals have fair and effective legal rights and realise our vision for a just and equitable where animals can flourish. We invest in people and projects to foster pro-animal values and create lasting systemic change by disrupting the status quo and reforming our social, political, legal and institutional systems.”

1-10k10-25k
May 31, 2024

Farmed Animal Funders is soliciting proposals for pooled fund ideas that will fill an unmet, yet high-impact, charitable intervention playing a critical role in the movement to end factory farming. Proposals are due by May 31st, 2024.Farmed Animal Funders (FAF) is a donor community made up of individuals and foundations giving more than $250,000 per year to end factory farming. A pooled fund from FAF members and new donors can play an important role to fill financial gaps across multiple nonprofits while relying on unique expertise to impactfully distribute funds.

December 31, 2024

The page doesn’t have a grant landing page now, but you can email them at contact@jeremycollerfoundation.org

June 28, 2024

We are excited to announce that our new grant round is now open, focusing on projects that tackle emerging and under-represented animal welfare issues, particularly those exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

10-25k

🎓Upskilling in fundraising: resources and courses

“Nobody dreams of being a fundraiser; you just end up there”.

Fundraising is a skill like any other. However, it takes time to not only learn the components of the skill but also the lay of the land of the funding landscape as well as getting to know each donor and a foundation: what they value, what they are interested in funding and how they prefer to be approached. A lot fundraising is practice and you will certainly have to learn on the job. You will have to make some mistakes on the way to eventually get better at your job. We hope that the below resources help you start building this knowledge.

More about the power dynamics with funders

From Liz Wheeler, Fundraising Officer at Faunalytics: “As a fundraiser, people usually it as us wanting money and the funder being in the “power position”, but I like to think of it as how we can help the funder. They want to make a difference and an impact, but our organizations are the ones who have the skills and knowledge to implement change for animals. Don’t sell yourself short. Ask them how you can help them.”

More on the personal development required to succeed as a fundraiser

According to Unny Nambudiripad, there are two areas which are worth developing in as a fundraiser: the skills and knowhow and the personal development it takes to be a fundraiser. The latter is often neglected.

Many people find it hard to ask for money. The reason for this is that most of us have anxiety about money, resources, wealth, class, and race. So, we have to do some introspection, reflection, and work to get to a place where we can ask directly for funds without shame. The best way to ask for money is to be as direct as possible, and doing this inner work is an important step.

More about fundraising as a skill

Fundraising is basically marketing, communications, and sales combined. So, skilling up in these areas, especially in digital marketing, and presentation/sales techniques, is quite valuable. Also, fundraisers who know UX/UI are quite an asset for smaller organizations.

Fundraising resources and courses

NameURLTagsDetails
AMA10-15 min

A fundraising expert, Rick Holland, answered the community questions about fundraising on the IAA Slack.

Webinar1 hourPitchingRelationship-buildingFunding dynamicsMindset

This session covers the mindset and metrics that will support you pitching your project for funding opportunities. Join us to help shift out of scarcity mindset, solidify organizational foundations, and learn about sources of funding to support your work. Before writing grant proposals, pitching to funders, or running fundraising campaigns, it’s important to be able to clearly articulate your organization's mission, budget, objectives, and impact. With these pieces in place, you can confidently seek out funding from individual donors, grants, and more.

Webinar1 hourRelationship-buildingStorytellingUpdating donors on your workThanking donorsMaking the askPitching

Join us to learn the basics of how to build successful long term donor relationships. We will cover the entire cycle of donor cultivation starting from identifying prospects to making the final ask. This easy step by step process will help ensure better donor relation management for nonprofits, even with a small team.

WebinarPitchingProposalsRelationship-buildingMaking the ask1.5 hour

This session will share insights into funder decision-making and other aspects of the funding process from a funder point of view. Between power dynamics, unspoken expectations, and different funders’ styles, funder-nonprofit dynamics can be challenging to understand and navigate. Verónica, Tom, and Lauren will draw from their experiences in the grantmaking and philanthropy service spaces to share insights into how funders approach aspects of the funding process, with the goal of making communication and relationship-building with funders more accessible and inclusive.

Webinar1 hourProposals

Where to start, what's included, and how to share your unique voice.

Resource collection
Funding dynamicsResearch
Storytelling

An article from HBR about better storytelling.

OtherCase studiesIdeas
Relationship-buildingPitchingMaking the askUpdating donors on your workMindsetFunding dynamicsCase studiesIdeasOtherResource collection
Relationship-buildingProposalsResource collectionPitchingMaking the askResearchCase studies
Resource collectionDigital fundraising

A website for digital fundraising professionals, covering topics like how to optimise your website for fundraising and running digital campaigns

WebinarDigital fundraisingResource collection

A giving platform that creates free resources for non-profits

DiscussionsWebinarResource collection

An initiative to encourage giving and conversations/resources around it.

PodcastRelationship-buildingResource collection

Podcast on how to become a better fundraiser

NetworkingArticle
Other
OtherCase studiesResource collectionResearch

Includes a list of recommended resources to develop skills as a fundraiser

Resource collection

“[…] we're creating tools designed around the way charities want to communicate with their donors, so they can spend more time on what matters”

IdeasArticle

Largely applicable to animal advocacy sas well

Relationship-building

This document provides strategic advice and specific funding leads for animal advocacy groups, based on the author's successful experience growing financial support for environmental justice causes, particularly against waste incineration, and outlines how to leverage connections with related movements to secure funding.

Course
1 hour

👩Fundraising professionals that can help you (pro-bono and paid)

Are you a fundraising professional and want to be listed on this database? Submit your info here, email us at hello@joinhive.org, or DM Kevin Xia on Slack.

Fundraiser professionals database (in alphabetical order)

NameTagsCan help with
MentoringFirst-time fundraisersExperienced fundraisersCan discuss any fundraising topic

Anything to do with fundraising - always happy to have a conversation. Can offer some pro-bono support to limited number of charities.

MentoringFirst-time fundraisersFundraising strategy

Strategy, proposals, CRM, email marketing, online fundraising, mindset etc.

Fundraising strategy

Can help with fundraising and development strategy, organization restructuring, outreach, campaign and program creation

MentoringFirst-time fundraisers

mentoring, first-time fundraisers

First-time fundraisersCan discuss any fundraising topicFundraising strategy

Can advise individually pro-bono and on behalf of his organisation.

🤖Using AI to help you fundraise faster and better

Please remember to always proofread the AI generated answers before sending and don’t use actual user data in Chat GPT (always anonymize it first)

Funding applications can take significant time away from your programmatic work. You can reduce it by using AI tools. A big part of using AI tools successfully is learning how to create good prompts. Some fundraisers have reported saving 50% of application time because they used the AI tools,

Kyle Behrend from NFPs.ai created some great prompts to help you create materials on his website:

Here are some types of prompts included:

  • Fundraising emails
  • Donor profile
  • Donation page design mock-up
  • Donation data analysis

There is an app called Grantable that can help you write your grants much faster. The free version will help you write 10 documents.

⁉️Community FAQs

We list questions asked on our #s-fundraising Slack channel and good questions we found from the learning resources listed above.

Have more questions?

🏡 Join the Hive Slack’s #s-fundraising channel to connect with other community members about this topic.

Please note that the answers to these questions are given by individual fundraisers and funders in the movement, and may not necessarily apply broadly across the movement. You should consider multiple perspectives and individual preferences before making a decision.

Choosing your fundraising strategy and donors:

If we have quite a long list of donors, who do we prioritise?

Start with the folks that:

  • have been giving for a long time
  • have been giving more
  • you have the more likelihood of getting hold of
How should new orgs think of target audiences – for networks of allies all the way to funding broadly?
  • should new orgs focus on people who are already likely aligned with their efforts
  • or look to larger groups where there might be more presentation or effort to convince – but where the result (for example of funds) could be more sustaining?

→ basically: how should a new org allot outreach time between likely allies (where there could be competition of limited resources) & outward groups (tougher to convince; possibly more sustaining engagement)?

Answer:

I don't think we need to make those distinctions -- we risk sorting people into donor - volunteer - friend groups, when indeed they could be any or all of those. We are all looking for funders, but funders are allies first. So let's start there, and create the spaces and conversations that build trust and allow the bigger conversations to happen.

Starting a conversation:

What’s the best way to approach a funder and gain funder’s interest?

(asked at Fundraising Training Series - Pulling Back the Curtain on Funder Decision Making)

Warm introductions are always very helpful. If you already have some people in your network, ask them to introduce you. It’s always best to work from the perspective of abundance. It looks good for the non-profit which is introducing you. Make sure the request is made very thoughtfully, highlighting exactly why the funder might be interested. “We thought you might be interested in learning about this organisation because… it aligns with your work on …”

You can ask a funder to introduce you to other funders. The funder doesn’t make an introduction directly, they like to talk to the funder first to see if they have capacity to have a look at another non-profit.

There are some non-profits who, at the end of the year, provide a list of non-profits to funders who are looking for funders.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help, but don’t take it personally if the funder doesn’t want to talk to you at this point, as the funder might be busy. If you have been introduced, respond to it quickly with more information. Respect the formal channels of communication - move them to BCC. Email/Slack is best - don’t use social media for funder comms.

Most funders have a list of their grantees on their website - reach out to some of them that you know for an introduction.

If you meet a funder at an event but haven’t had a chance to chat at length, ask them if they’d like to hear more about your non-profit. Then if yes, follow up via email. Don’t be too salesy though.

At this point you can be in the “cultivating” stage of the fundraising cycle. However make sure that when you’re ready, you make the ask directly, as the funder may not recognise you are making the ask.

How to connect to a funder who is invite-only?

(asked at Fundraising Training Series - Pulling Back the Curtain on Funder Decision Making)

Raise your visibility within the movement so that funders have an opportunity to see your work (FAST list, being a member of a collaborative that they know of, being featured in an article, being visible on an issue). Finding creative ways to find an in, e.g. to talk about a specific issue that the funder care about. Attending webinars, events if possible, hosting meet-ups, etc.

It’s important to know why funders are invitation-only. They may have been in the movement for a long time and supporting 100+ non-profits, so they may not have capacity to consider new applications.

Rather than asking for money, ask if the funder would mind if you update them on our progress, send them a two-pager, etc. It takes a lot of the pressure off the funder. Let the funder approach you with an invitation when they are ready.

Don’t be discoraged if a funder responds saying “We don’t accept unsolicited applications”.

Check out pulled-funds - an open call opportunities.

Don’t go to events just to look for funders, however some events like AVA are especially good for fundraising. Use the conference app to set up meetings with funders in advance.

How should organisations deal with no reply to proposals and requests?

(asked at Fundraising Training Series - Pulling Back the Curtain on Funder Decision Making)

Reasons for this:

  1. Some funders sometimes work on slower timelines
  2. Sometimes the person you’re in touch with isn’t the decision maker on the fund.
  3. Sometimes the person who you’re in touch with will be presenting your organisation to the decision-maker, so they need to make several pitches or need to wait for the right time, which takes time.

Two weeks is a reasonable time for the funder to get back to you. If you’re not hearing back, likely it’s not a good fit, or at least not yet.

Is going to events the best way to fundraise?

(asked at the Fundraising workshop with Unny)

According to Unny, the best way to fundraise is to directly reach out and ask for money (wherever that’s available to you - via email, WhatsApp, at a conference). Most donors are ok with someone reaching out and saying “can we have a chat, I’d like to talk about donating to my charity”. Some other wording “I’d like to discuss the opportunity to partner with you to advance our movement”.

Soliciting and applying for grants:

What do you think about applying for multiple grant opportunities simultaneously for the same/similar projects?

It’s normal to do, although do think it's worth only applying if you think it has a decent expected value/time

A few insights:

  • Many applications will ask if other funding has been sought, but if they don’t I usually find a way to work it in.
  • Depending on the fund’s average grant, it may not be reasonable to apply for full funding of a project but rather an aspect of it.
  • Some funders may be more likely to support a project which already has some funding or backing to it.
  • Sometimes some funders won’t fund salaries or translations which means we apply to two different funds.
Should grantees ask for a specific amount for initiatives?

(asked at Fundraising Training Series - Pulling Back the Curtain on Funder Decision Making)

Different funders prefer different things.

It might be a good idea to ask what each funder prefers before delivering a proposal to them.

Putting your annual budget on the top right hand corner is a good idea - this could give the funder an indication of the size of the ask.

Is it ok to receive conditional funding, i.e. when a funder wants to you to do a specific project?

Most funders give to charities because they do the work that the funder believes to be impactful. However, it’s always best to work with funders who exercise trust-based fundraising, which relies on the grantee using the funds in the best interest of the charity. Sometimes you may realise that the project you originally wanted to do doesn’t achieve impact as effectively as you’d like, so you want to have the freedom to pivot. It’s not recommended to accept funding if a funder asks you to change your theory of change, if this is a chance you don’t wan to do.

Is it worth producing merch or giving donors small gifts as signs of appreciation?

(asked at the Fundraising workshop with Unny)

Likely not, because it takes a lot of time and money to produce them and it doesn’t always convey the same gratitude message

What can a new group do to increase their chances of getting funding? Especially asking for groups which have no connections in the movement yet. Where should they go, what should they do to put themselves out there?

Credit: AMA with Rick Holland on the IAA Slack

It's always a challenge, for new groups and orgs. Small teams, little money, seemingly no connections! Counterintuitively, I'd encourage new orgs to to forget about fundraising at first (at least temporarily). I'd encourage them to think about the people they know, personally, professionally, ex-colleagues or bosses...the people who are support of them and their work. But not with a "can they give me money" lens. This way, we start to identify and build networks of allies and champions, and we start talking about our work, aims, impact, staff and financial needs, and having these conversations gets us a mindset that's not about "how much money can you give me, and when" that's suboptimal for building trust and long-term partnerships with supporters.

When can I ask the funder for more money [after I’ve already received a grant?]?

asked at Fundraising Training Series - Pulling Back the Curtain on Funder Decision Making)

Most funders won’t expect another ask for a year unless they specify when they’d like to have a renewal conversation. If you do ask again, make sure that you give a reason, e.g. your needs changed, or some circumstances beyond your control, such as another funder not funding you anymore. Otherwise you run the risk of being perceived as either ungrateful or planning poorly.

How big of a role does their online presence (website, social media, etc) plays on their decision to support the organization?

Credit: AMA with Rick Holland on the IAA Slack

If orgs or the people behind them don't have any kind of online presence, then I think it's going to be harder to build trust and legitimacy. That being said, online fundraising and 'donate' button are nice, but I've rarely if ever seen big contributions come through them. They will help send the message that an org depends on donations, but for small and medium-sized orgs I wouldn't advise making them a priority.

How shall we approach funders with projects that will make change in the long-term [rather than short term]?

asked at Fundraising Training Series - Pulling Back the Curtain on Funder Decision Making)

Most donors understand that we will need to work for decades to see the change we all want. So it’s ok for projects to work long-term. Being explicit with funders about this long-term perspective it important. However you need to be convincing and enthusiastic with your theory of change.

Building a relationship & updating your donors:

How frequently should we keep in touch with donors?

Credit: Fundraising workshop with Unny Nambudiripad

  • It depends on what you have capacity for! Once a month is the most frequent we would recommend for sending official updates, but personal touches like private messages and sharing resources can be more frequently.
Could you share some resources or your suggestions on how to thank donors well?

Credit: AMA with Rick Holland on the Hive (formerly IAA) Slack

As for thanking donors well, like so much in fundraising, there aren't any absolutes! It's important to thank your donors in a timely way, but there is no ideal. For example, while an autorespond message to an online donation technically does the job, it's pretty impersonal! Some donors may ask for a written acknowledgement for their records (and it's a good idea to to do this even if they don't ask). And depending on how well you know the donor, don't underestimate the power of personal contact: a whatsapp message or phone call that tells them you got it, you appreciate it, and that you will put it to work!

How to navigate the funder/grantee communications when it’s not clearly communicated how to actually update donors on your work?

(asked at Fundraising Training Series - Pulling Back the Curtain on Funder Decision Making)

Funders like to have a relationship with non-profit partners.

First ask how often a funder would like to hear from you.

If you have a newsletter or are sending updates, ask the funder if they’d like to be included.

Switch the focus from reporting to relationship building. If a funder wrote an article, and you liked it, email them to let them know.

Funders need to know how effective their giving has been in order to inform their future giving. They need the grantees to tell them how it’s going.

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