Author: Kate Sunners


I never thought I’d write an agony aunt column*, but for locally-based charities seeking funding for development projects in other nations, there really seems no better format!

Dear Agony Aunt,

My organisation funds sustainability education and practices in South East Asia, with excellent results. Our evaluations show that our sustainable fishery and forestry courses have contributed to the increased economic capacity of local villagers and have reduced health and environmental issues associated with intensive industrial monocultures and aquaculture.

These successes signal to us that we are ready to seek grants to implement our programs at a broader scale, and we are looking at expanding to three new locations.Gazing

Grants would provide the ideal funding for our expansion, but the grant-makers we know of are reluctant to fund projects overseas.

We are unsure where to look in the huge sea of grants information to pinpoint funding bodies and philanthropists who are willing to fund in our countries of interest. Help!
Yours in funding agony,
Organisation X

Well, Organisation X – it does sound like you’re in a pickle! But you’ve come to the right place for help!

First, know that all the basics of grant-seeking apply to you, and will help you when you do find funders who match your mission, projects and locations.

Secondly, well done! The fact that you have evaluation mechanisms in place already will signal to funders that you are a responsible and well-run nonprofit. You have the evidence you need to show grant-makers exactly what social and environmental returns they will get for their investment!

Thirdly, don’t miss opportunities to talk to other nonprofits working in similar circumstances. Are you able to help each other out by sharing information? Can you cooperate on programs, projects or resources? (Funders read ‘cooperation’ as ‘more bang for your buck’).

Fourthly, it’s important to understand that the pool of funders in Australia and New Zealand who can and will fund offshore projects is small – both because of legal restrictions on offshore giving, and because the majority of funders prefer to focus on local issues. For this reason, if you are an Australian or New Zealand charity who conducts all of its work in other countries, a full Grants Calendar will not be suitable for you. A shorter list of prospective funders who have previously funded offshore in your interest areas and geographic regions will be more appropriate.

The positive side to this is that, because your pool of grants prospects is small, it will be fairly easy for you to identify where to focus your time and effort in connecting with funders and making applications.

*The letter to this agony aunt is just as fake as the ones you used to read as a kid in magazines…and just as educational!

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