make our dreams come true
Challenges and opportunities when raising funds
Now that we have told you more about our advocacy work and our experiences with working with other youth-led organizations, you might wonder how we finance these endeavours… You can imagine that, as a youth-led organization focusing on SRHR, we have difficulties finding donors. Our main funding comes from institutional fundraising, in our case the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Currently CHOICE works within four different partnerships and alliances on larger projects. These are the Right Here Right Now, the Yes I Do, the Get Up Speak Out and the Rights, Evidence, Action programs. Within these programs we work together with other (Dutch) organizations such as Rutgers and dance4life. Working within alliances benefits CHOICE as institutional donors often prefer funding partnerships. It’s harder for CHOICE to be eligible for private funds, because of our size and focus, but we do try! And we always appreciate donations, however small they may be!
These are some of the challenges and opportunities we face when applying for funds:
CHOICE has a strong relationship with the MoFA, they have been funding our programs from the start. We are very grateful for their funding, but becoming almost ‘dependent’ on their support also makes us vulnerable. We do not have other major sources of funding to support our work in case the MoFA, for whatever reason, decides to withdraw or end their funding. Furthermore, the money we receive from these grants have very strict expenditure rules and limits, which restrict the type of activities we can organize. Diversifying our funding is therefore an important step towards more sustainability. We are actively looking for private funds or donors, to ensure sustainability and to provide us with more room to take on new innovative projects.
Another challenge for CHOICE is the lack of internal capacity (both in terms of FTE and money) to invest in fundraising. Yet if we do have the time and money to focus on fundraising, we still encounter many barriers on our way. Many private donors have a long list of application criteria, which are often too high for CHOICE to meet. For instance, donors often require that an organization contributes a certain percentage of their own money to the budget for the activity. They also often ask for a minimum annual turnover, a requirement that CHOICE can’t cohere to. For CHOICE, working within alliances is therefore beneficial, as together with other organizations we do meet all the necessary requirements.
Finally, new donors are also often hesitant to fund youth-led organizations, thinking we aren’t trustworthy and sustainable. This is why it’s sometimes difficult for CHOICE to be taken seriously by potential donors. Fortunately, we have a track record of 20 years to show that although being youth-led, we are a sustainable organization!
We are happy to say though that we encounter more and more opportunities when it comes to finding new, creative ways to gain funds! We recently took the first step towards diversification of our funding when we were granted funding from Amplify Change, a multi-donor fund to support civil society advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
CHOICE now also has a CBF recognition seal. CBF stands for the Central Bureau on Fundraising which is an independent foundation monitoring fundraising by charities since 1925. In order to receive this seal, CHOICE had to be closely reviewed. This seal therefore contributes greatly towards CHOICE’s credibility.
Most importantly, CHOICE has really strong Unique Selling Points! Some donors might be hesitant to fund youth-led organizations, but this is what makes us unique. Investing in adolescents and youth is becoming more and more important to donors, which provides great opportunities for CHOICE. We have strong track records on Meaningful Youth Participation and youth-led advocacy. Basically, we are one of a kind!
It’s been a longtime dream of CHOICE to set up a funding mechanism to support new youth-led organizations with smaller grants and technical assistance in order to create an ever-growing network of sustainable youth-led organizations. We hope that in the future we will be able to diversify our own funding, providing us with the opportunity and capacity to support other, smaller, youth-led organizations. Will you help us make our dream come true?