NGO fundraising
May 18, 2008 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Chasing funding and attracting sponsors / donors for an NGO: European Union / Bulgarian / educational context. Please, teach me?

My professional experience is as a teacher, teacher trainer, and trainer of trainers. Suddenly an opportunity has come up to lead a Bulgarian educational NGO. The partner I am going to be working with is a trusted friend and colleague, and his background is pretty much the same as mine.

We are very confident that we can successfully design and implement educational programmes, courses, projects, etc., which will be the core of this NGO's activities. The trick is quickly learning how to get the positive attention of donors, and make them fund our stuff. Neither of us has skills / experience in fundraising, submitting project proposals, winning project grants, and in general chasing / securing funding for the work we want to do.

I know there are a lot of Mefites out there with this kind of background. Any advice, links, ideas, places to search to help us hit the ground running and make our NGO a success would be much appreciated.
posted by Meatbomb to Education (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
EU lobbying for funding is very different from in the US. But, I am guessing there are classes to learn it. I would suggest networking this in Sofia or going directly to education conferences where you can meet with people. Even a brochure is helpful. Sorry I don't have more!
posted by parmanparman at 8:29 AM on May 18, 2008

Hire someone in the region who does this stuff as well as you all train teachers. Post this question on facebook and to your email address book, i know for a fact you have a huge and excellent network. There will likely be somebody there you can hire on spec.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:47 PM on May 18, 2008

I don't know about all sources of funding, but the information on funding from the European Commission for educational projects is here.

Submitting proposals for EU funding is a huge job, and as a new NGO you might have a hard time getting funding unless you get in on a project where some of the partners are well known to the Commission. I'd recommend you find out who is working on the kind of projects you like, in other EU countries, and meet up with them to talk about projects. One big advantage you have, as you can imagine, is that you're in Bulgaria. Poject coordinators should be keen to get you on board, as the Commission's evaluators like to see new EU Member States involved.
posted by creeky at 5:23 AM on May 19, 2008

I'm afraid I'm out of my depth when it comes to the EU funding structures and multinational philanthropy. But ByTheGraceofGod's recommendation is something I would really endorse: hire an experienced person who knows the world of fundraising and development in your working area. This will save you so much time and money in the end, and it will keep your and your partners' attention where you have the greatest strength: on program. You can certainly teach yourself the skills involved in grantwriting and fundraising, but it may not be the place to invest your energy as a new leader.

At least in the States, you can sometimes find development people who will work, as Grace said "on spec;" that is, they will draw their eventual wages when the funding comes in, and it will form part of the indirect costs of the funding. So you may not have to have anything upfront if you find an agressive person ready to step up in the development world with a successful project for their portfolio. But a lot will depend upon your resources. Do you already have some seed money? If you do, a development person, even a part-time consulting one, would be the next logical person to add to your organization.

Good luck - sounds amazing.
posted by Miko at 2:37 PM on May 20, 2008

I know not from the EU way of things, but in the US non-profits that are successful often have a board of trustees (or directors, but I don't like that term) who have a fundraising role. Not just nice folks, you see, but influential ones with good networks. As you probably need to grow into an EU funded body, this may be one place to start.
posted by dhartung at 1:19 AM on May 21, 2008

US non-profits that are successful often have a board of trustees

Depending on their tax designation, they are usually required to have such a board. The quality of the board makes a huge difference.

Even if the EU has no such requirement, an advisory board would seem like a good idea.
posted by Miko at 5:55 AM on May 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks very much guys, this is all valuable information for me.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:31 AM on May 21, 2008

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