Women in a conference meeting

3 takeaways from the Funding for Development Conference

Over 200 people joined us on Monday for our second Funding for Development Conference.

NGOs, donors, government representatives and corporates came together to discuss the latest trends and challenges in institutional funding, public fundraising and partnerships.

We also launched our latest report on financial trends for UK-based INGOs, which analyses the incomes of over 300 members to help you develop your fundraising strategies.

Delegates identified several challenges for the international development sector, including:

Here are three key areas of learning for NGOs that came out of the day:

1. Know your purpose

Being clear in your purpose, articulating the way you make change and having a strong, definitive idea is crucial for successful fundraising.

Knowing your value is attractive to partners and helps donors understand what you want to achieve, as well as allowing you to know what to focus your efforts on.

But we all know that making change is not simple. Donors and partners appreciate this, so be transparent and honest if things don’t go to plan. Keeping people updated and building relationships over time will lead to more engaged supporters, not just givers of money.

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2. Be flexible and open but have red lines

Many organisations are looking at how to innovate in their fundraising, but you can’t innovate without openness. Openness doesn’t just mean accountability, it also means a willingness to experiment.

If you’re flexible and adaptable, you can take advantage of new or unusual funding opportunities, such as unexpected corporate partners or different institutional funders.

As NGOs, we all have ethical values and these need to be kept in mind at all times. Does your potential new partner align with these values? Could new funding contradict something that you stand for? Know your red lines and know when to walk away.

Lucy Caldicott of UpRising gave a powerful speech in the closing plenary about the importance of having a diversity of voices within our organisations. Being representative of our audiences and having a variety of backgrounds in the team can lead to making the most of opportunities – or not making mistakes that might upset our supporters.

3. Work together

Our focus in the sector should be on market growth, not market share – co-operating, not cannibalising. This can sound difficult, but Catherine Cottrell from Comic Relief outlined how some individual organisations have transformed the landscape for everyone.

If you know your value and your values, you can find like-minded collaborators, either fellow NGOs or corporate partners and research partners.

Working together leads to a stronger network, giving the people you serve a stronger voice and easing the transfer of knowledge and information.

Find out more and get involved

Download our financial trends for UK-based INGOs report to get information and insights to develop your fundraising strategies.

Check out our training courses on funding, including grants and contracts.

Join one of our funding groups to network with NGO professionals, share learning or undertake joint policy work.

The Funding for Development conference will return in late 2019. If you can’t wait that long, our Annual Conference in March will feature a strand on funding.