Strategic communication

Grants acquisition and fundraising strategies: Some basic rules

By 25/03/2021

Resource mobilisation is key to being awarded grants and carrying out successful fundraising activities conducted. Grant-seeking and fundraising in a development organisation is generally done in two ways:

  1.  Solicited opportunities – exploring various opportunities shared or published by donors
  2. Unsolicited opportunities – proactively reaching out to the donors on some ‘flagship’ ideas in line with organisation’s strategic priorities

Before locking on a project idea, it is essential to ensure that the idea is ‘worth’ the time and investment. This can be done by regularly scanning and keeping up with development priorities at global, national, and sub-national level. This should be a cross-team function, working closely with technical leads to understand both the current sectoral priorities and the donor and policy priorities. Networking to create and maintain relationships with donors and other organisations is an important way to stay informed about current developments.

A few of the activities that will help your resource mobilisation strategy include:

  • Donor landscape mapping – to understand donors’ funding areas, themes, and future priorities
  • Competitor mapping – to understand other organisations’ funding models, donors, areas of work, and competitive advantages
  • Developing capacity statements – by working closely with communications, sector, and monitoring and evaluation specialists
  • Scheduling routine meetings with donors and policy stakeholders to discuss ideas with them and learn about their current needs

Given the rapidly changing funding landscape because of the Covid-19 pandemic, fundraising is even more critical to provide strategic guidance to senior leadership regarding current donations, available funds, forecasted funds, sector priorities, and the necessary shifts and adaptations required in program implementation approaches and timelines. This is also true for resource mobilisation – in terms of how and from where resources can be mobilised. Disasters also provide opportunities to test new ideas and innovations, so the resource mobilisation unit needs to be in active discussion with the technical teams to propose new ideas through concept notes, which can open doors for unsolicited proposals too.

As a fundraising unit, your role would be to coordinate the development process and ensure that a high-quality concept note is delivered on time. In order to achieve this, I would recommend to follow these indicative steps:

  1. Develop a bid summary – highlighting key points related to project goal, outcomes, eligibility, and resonance with the organisation’s strategic priorities
  2. Develop a Go-No-Go form and ask senior leadership to share their suggestions whether to Go or No Go for any bid
  3. If it is agreed to GO, then develop a concept note development team and timeline
  4. Communicate with the relevant technical teams, asking for their involvement during various stages
  5. Conduct a design workshop involving relevant technical units to discuss the project design, activities, and log frame
  6. Request specific technical team members (for example Education, Gender and Inclusion, Emergency Preparedness and Response) to share inputs by 10 working days before the final submission deadline
  7. Work with the M&E and Communications/Knowledge Management unit to collect relevant evidence and experiences specific to the concept of the project
  8. Develop the first draft of the concept note narrative by no more than 7 working days before the final submission deadline
  9. Share the draft concept with the technical advisers, asking for their rapid feedback (no more than 5 working days before the final submission deadline)
  10. Share the second draft concept note to senior leadership, asking for their feedback (no more than 3 working days before the final submission deadline)
  11. Finalize the concept note as per the feedback received
  12. Review the call announcement to ensure your bid meets all the requirements
  13. Submit the final bid documents
  14. Conduct a debriefing of the bid development process for further improvement