How to strengthen and broaden your donor base

Written by Jade Maina,Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), Kenya

What problem/s did your organisation face on donor diversification?

To ensure the long-term sustainability of an organisation and its programmes, it is important that you diversify your sources of funding.

At TICAH, we realised that some of our programmes were funded by one single donor, raising concerns of sustainability should that donor decide to not continue to fund us in the future.

How did you overcome this problem?

At TICAH we have developed a fundraising strategy to work towards donor diversification. One way we are doing this is by strengthening our work’s visibility and taking advantage of donor/ grantee / partner networking and collaboration spaces to meet new donors who fund projects that are aligned with our organisation and priorities.

What did you achieve and what changes were made?

To increase the visibility of TICAH as an organisation and understanding of its work, we finalised our Theory of Change, we reviewed our Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Sharing (MELS) process and we developed a one pager describing our projects.

We now share our Annual Report and the one pager widely and we also apply to and attend donor-grantee networking collaborating spaces like Skoll World Forum and Opportunity Collaboration.

By taking part in these collaborating spaces, TICAH has met two new donors and raise 450,000 USD for a three-year programme.

What did you learn from this experience?

That donor-grantee relationships are like any other relationships – they need to be continuously nurtured! At TICAH, we now keep our donors informed on what is happening in the organisation. We share information about upcoming events or activities that have taken place and we are honest about our successes and challenges.

By strengthening our communication and maintaining an open dialogue with our donors, we have found that our donors are not just engaging directly with us but are more likely to make connections with other donors on our behalf. They also share resources and information with us as they are aware of our current activities, achievements and challenges.

What are your top tips for an organisation facing this issue?

At TICAH we found that participating in networking events has made a big difference to donor diversification as it increased our visibility to potential new donors and strengthened communication and relationships with existing donors.

If you or your organisation decide to take part in a donor-grantee networking event, these are TICAH’s top tips:

  • Do your research:Make a list of who is attending and separately list what donors are a likely match to your organisation and projects. Research the areas that they are interested in funding.
  • Reach out:Write an introductory email and ask for an appointment during the networking event – this raises your likelihood of a meeting.
  • Be prepared:Send the donor your organisational materials prior to your meeting.
  • Planning pays off:You will find that when you meet with potential donors in this planned and scheduled way, the donors will be just as excited about meeting with you as you are about them.
  • Follow up:After the meeting, follow up with everyone you have met, for example by writing and sending a thank-you email.

Please remember: it is rare to receive a grant after a first meeting or engagement with a donor. Therefore you need to keep communication with the donor open and regular, to ensure that information about new funding opportunities are shared with you.

Are there any other external resources you would recommend?

TICAH attended the donor-grantee networking events:

Skoll World Forum
Opportunity Collaboration

Jade Maina,Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), Kenya

Jade Maina is the Executive Director at TICAH. Her role includes resource mobilisation, organisational strategic planning and direction and staff growth. She has over ten years of experience as an activist, programme manager and organiser concerning sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Visit Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) for more information.