Starting an NGO:
You may not have enough money initially ...

Cover page:
Starting an NGO
You may not have enough money initially ...

One of the main stumbling blocks for any NGO to start working is to find adequate funds for all its staff. This need not be so, and with a clear strategy for fund raising, an NGO can manage to find adequate funds for its everyday management and for its projects. Some lessons learnt:
  • Develop a comprehensive long-term programme, but break it into smaller chunk sized bits to seek funding for each part, from the same or sometimes different sources. This is because it is easier to get money for one event than for a sustained long-term programme.
  • Develop a more diversified range of donors who can provide different amounts at different points of a programme/project's implementation. Seek both local as well as overseas donors. A diversified fund-raising programme is very important. An interesting thumb-rule - closer the donor, smaller the amount. A person walking on the street in your town may provide only small change that he currently has in his pocket. But a more 'distant' person or organization may provide more funding.
  • Get out of the 'charity' angle. Develop clear professionalism among the staff members. Always be willing to provide info on the NGO's goals and objectives, as well as programmes. Get third party organizations to write about the programme and projects. Keep good relations with the media, and cultivate spokespersons among the staff members. This is because misdeeds and fraud by some NGOs taint the sector as a whole, creating mistrust and misunderstanding
  • Look in other places. Sometimes a local businessman or company may be willing to help - only if and when asked! Seek funding from 'non-traditional' sources that may exist in your own backyard.
  • Cultivate your staff members. All staff members of an NGO should spend part of their time in fund raising - each catering to different aspects of the process - writing proposals, finding and networking with donors, negotiating, writing reports etc.
  • Where possible, bring together a coalition of partners - of other NGOS, universities, research institutions, etc. who contribute different expertise and knowledge, and larger target areas and beneficiary communities. Creating NGO Networks, NGO service centers, information kiosks etc. help in pooling and developing the knowledge and skills needed for this purpose.
  • Try to find the differences and uniqueness of your own programme/projects. What new approach have you used? Usually, each NGO services a different aspect or a different community - with rare overlap. Develop a 'bigger picture' with other NGOs that illustrates comprehensive and diverse package of services and projects.

Note: Not all of the ideas mentioned above will work and they are not complete as well. Different places need different approaches, at different times, for different purposes. The objective is to list out as many ideas as possible, which you can pick and choose depending on your specific need! Therefore suggestions are definitely welcome to add to the above ideas. Send an email to:

Return to the NGO Page

Comments and suggestions:
Hari Srinivas -