I had worked with grants for more than 15 years when at the beginning of this year I decided to go international. Following my interests, I decided to focus on getting grant funding for organizations working outside the United States. Little did I know that I will have to master a whole new language of grantspeak and a whole new and different world of funders.
We, grant professionals in the US, have our own jargon. Not surprisingly, there are parallel jargons in other parts of the world. Just as an example, what I would call a preproposal or preliminary proposal is referred to as a "concept note" by non-US funders. In several cases, particularly in the European Commission grant proposals, I came across a matrix called Logical Framework Analysis (LFA or logframe), which to me looks like a combination of a logic model and an implementation schedule that I used to do for American federal grants. Supposedly this LFA format has actually been developed in the US (by USAID) in the 1970s, and it seems to have become an international hit.
Another aspect that seems to be much more important when developing proposals for international NGOs is the gender factor. Since the situation of women and girls in many countries of the developing world is so different from that of men and boys, many funders are very sensitive to gender issues in project design and delivery. We have to always consciously keep it in mind and explicitly address equitability of participation in the project and distribution of resources.
Funders and where to find them
International NGOs get their funding from anywhere they can (Isn't it what everybody does?) While American nonprofits seem to mostly rely on US funders, international NGOs look everywhere. Even though I worked on many international projects before, they were always funded by US funders and always managed by an American organization, in most cases an educational institution. It was quite an eye opener for me to delve into the world of international funders. There are several categories of funders to consider.
First, there are multilateral development banks. They are called multilateral because they are financed by many governments. Their geographic focus can be global or regional. Examples of such banks are the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Development Bank. Their main business is to provide loans and advice to client governments, but their local country offices often make grants to NGOs. Their grant programs are not necessarily easy to find on their websites so it takes some digging to get the information, but it's worth the effort. Many of them also have excellent background research for specific regions and countries that is much more current than information on the US State Department or USAID sites.
Some multilateral agencies also fund NGOs, for example United Nation's International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nation's Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and World Health Organization (WHO). Navigating the huge UN bureaucracy can be difficult, but once the relationship is established, it can last for many years. Other agencies, such as OPEC, for example, also have grant programs for NGOs.
There are also Official Development Assistance (ODA) Agencies of governments of wealthy countries, which usually have well developed websites with information on funding initiatives and application processes. Some of the NGOs I have worked with received funding from Scandinavian development agencies, the Australian AusAID, and the Canadian International Development Agency. The truth is that many other governments are much more generous with their international aid that our government.
Private foundations exist not only in the United States. Some of my client NGOs received grants from foundations in Switzerland, Germany, UK or the Netherlands. Searching for these foundations is more complicated as there is no good database that includes all of them.
International corporations are also a big source of funding internationally. All of them (or almost all) consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy (CP) an important part of doing business. The latest iteration of their approach is what they call "creating shared value"-an approach designed to deliver as much value to the company as to society. They tend to fund projects that are related to their business focus (e.g. pharmaceutical companies fund projects that focus on healthcare access and quality) and in the areas where they operate, but there are exceptions. Their websites are fairly easy to locate and the application processes are clear and easy to follow.
International Nongovernmental Organizations are global charities that raise money from a variety of sources and support projects in the developing world. Many of them focus on a specific issue, such as American Save the Children or French Medicins Sans Frontieres. Connecting with them and maybe even creating a close partnership in certain areas can result in funding for specific initiatives.
On the whole, researching funders for international organizations and projects is a little like doing detective work. To get beyond the obvious sources, you have to follow clues and hunches and develop your own tracking mechanisms and your own database of potential funders. Like everything, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
As other countries are getting wealthier and more philanthropic and the US economy is struggling, philanthropy and grant making are becoming more and more international. Maybe it's time to think about broadening your grant seeking? Creative partnering is a good way to start, but that's a whole new topic... www.linked2grow.com