Is funding, or more so the financial sustainability of your organisation, idea or project keeping you awake at night?

If you have been reliant on government funding to exist over the past years you’ll know, without a doubt that the marketplace is shifting.

Some funding categories have even opened up to commercial tender and let’s face it a small Non Government Organisation (NGO) with limited capacity and increasing time constraints on staff simply cannot compete with one of the big guys.

Is this ALWAYS a bad thing?  No!  In fact, when I was the service manager of a small Aboriginal Corporation in NSW we partnered with one of the larger not for profit organisations and created a very authentic, respectful and productive partnership.  The organisation agreed to employ our team who went right to work (no time wasted on creating new relationships).  They won, we won and most importantly community won.

Of course it’s not always like that and if you are working or volunteering in a small to medium sized NGO my guess is that you are feeling the pinch right now, you may even be even more worried than you usually are about the future.  Your feelings are very justified.

So how do you write successful funding applications in this climate?

Before we go there my strongest recommendation is that you build a list of other ways you can make money (or save it) to sustain your organisation.  Include these things within your list:

  • Cost savings – are there any major expenditure items that you could save money on?
  • Partnerships – are there any organisations that you could share purchasing with?  Whether it’s bookkeeping, reception, bulk toilet paper or a casual staff pool.  How can you share to save?
  • Are there other ways to make money? YES!
    • Raffles, BBQs, lamington drives and the like are good when you need to raise little bits of cash for a specific purpose (think a project and/or equipment).  But they aren’t going to sustain your organisation nor staff positions in the long term.
    • Find a relevant market, find out what they want and sell them something.  You can call that social enterprise if you like, trading for a social purpose, your social purpose being the good thing your NGO does.
    • Crowd funding – get online and find out more or join our VIP list for a free podcast on it
    • Philanthropic funding:  There are two distinct categories of philanthropic funding – that which is operated in a similar contestable fashion to government grants and funding, and that which you earn through networking and relationship development with companies and (using industry speak we’ll call them) ‘high net worth individuals’ – yep, folks with spare bucks looking to invest in social purpose (and maybe garnish a nice tax deduction).
    • Community investment:  This type of model is so dangerous chances you’ll have heart palpitations just thinking of it.  It’s about sharing.  Working together as a community to understand what needs to happen, working out who is best placed to do it and resource sharing (between individuals, orgs) to make it happen.  Scary, right?

There are so many more ways but the post is getting a bit long so you’ll have to check in later.

No matter where you source your cash from chances are you’ll still be needing to put in a funding submission or two.  If you’d like to know more about how I’ve written funding applications which have garnished millions of dollars in funding for NGOs including tools and techniques to create applications which not only tick boxes but get attention join me online next Tuesday at 10am (AEST) for an hour of grant writing power.  Here’s the link

AND as an extra bonus next Wednesday morning I’ll be answering some grant writing questions and posting them onto our Facebook page.  If you have a burning question about funding / grant writing please email me here before Friday this week…