Lecture 3. Identify the target organisations, change your organization
Before you make contact with new donors, look at their past application guidelines and discuss with your team what those requirements mean for your organization. This is really important. In some cases it can mean big structural changes.

In the UK for example, one donor had a question: How do the members of your board of trustees reflect or have experience of the beneficiaries with whom you want to work? If you have famous or influential people on your board who have no experience of the project’s topic or location; then you need to add new board members who do.

Some donors may require organizational statements on certain issues. This includes gender policies; disability access; drugs policy; child labour policies, financial audits. It is a good idea to write and implement these policies in advance of applying for funds. It will look very suspicious if your Gender statement is just one day older than your application.

If a donor requires audits then check the frequency. There’s a big difference between having to provide documentation every three years and every six months. Audits are times consuming and detailed. Therefore make sure you have the staff and the systems in place who can manage these processes. Documents need to be 100% accurate and filed in a way that makes them easily accessible.

Some donors may require separate accounts for their project funds. Others pay in arrears, so check if you can cover those costs and add a few months for waiting for the money to come back to you.

Others may require you to be a tax payer or legally registered in their country. These are big and expensive steps. If you get this process wrong it can cost you your organization. The development world is littered with networks that have failed. Very often this is because a fundraising office on a different continent starts to work autonomously from the rest of the network they were set up to serve.  My advice: If you set up a new office in a new location one person within the rest of the network has to be clearly in charge of the office.

Some donors may have requirements about staffing levels; annual turnover; financial reserves; legal registration, tax statements etc

Get your administrator to review these requirements first and discuss how these requirements can be tackled before you start to meet the donor. Do not go into the fundraising process with rose tinted glasses. Your time is precious, so don’t waste it.

Investing time in all of these back-office procedures is not wasted, because most of these requirements will be set also by other donors. Having all of these administrative systems in place will make you more competitive, reassuring and attractive to donors. 

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