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Share your experiences

We are curious to hear your insights and experiences on effective grantmaking! Wat works or doesn't work for your organization? Successful or unsuccessful projects, wild ideas, do's and don'ts, research results, issues you are concerned with: we welcome any insights on different ways to fund nonprofit organizations. We are curious to hear stories from all perspectives (funders, grantees, volunteers, researchers, policy makers, etc.) and from all places. Moderated contributions are published below.

Insights and experiences from others

"At Reconstruction Women’s Fund, we prefer flexible funding of grassroots groups, observing funded activities within the wider landscape of the feminist movement rather than isolated projects. To maintain the sparks of progressive grassroots activism, activists need to be covered enough not to worry too much about their finances, and this is exactly what organizations supported by us frequently highlight as something they appreciate the most about our partnerships. It is not big news that there is a tendency for professionalization of activism. This often puts groups in a competitive position, while also leaving them under a pile of paperwork, eventually lacking time for activism in their fields. Instead of competition, we choose solidarity. Instead of bureaucracy, we choose to build our relationships on trust. And finally, what’s done in the field is much more important than deadlines, receipts or project modifications. Even though our mission of supporting feminist platform against war, militarism, nationalism, racism, discrimination and violence against women was clear from the beginning, our flexibility of funding kept on developing over the years based on the movement’s insights and needs, and for these organic guidelines on how to better support and serve the movement, we are honestly thankful."
Galina Maksimovic and Djurdja Trajković
Reconstruction Women's Fund, Serbia
"Kansfonds is a foundation that funds yearly about 500 projects country-wide. A few year ago we realized that among those 500, there was a group of organization that applied for funding again and again, whereas their work - and therefore also their application - was not project-based. This concerned mainly 'walk-in houses', where homeless people can come in for a cup of coffee and a sympathetic ear. They tried to make up project applications every time from their continued work, but those applications did not make us happy. Our conclusion was that project-based funding does not allign with the goals and work of these houses. We decided not to withold our funding from these organizations, but to change our method. So for several years now we have been giving unrestricted funding - or 'operating support' - to about 75 walk-in houses across the Netherlands. At the same time we offer them a capacity-building program, targeted at topics like fundraising, impact measurement, volunteer management and good governance. This way, we hope to collaborate with these organizations to a sustainable future."
Eline Crins
Kansfonds, Netherlands
"Unrestricted funding is important for every organization, but especially for nonprofit organizations. If you would work with earmarked funding only, you are dependent of what your donors want to fund, and then it can be very hard to pursue your strategy. Secondly, in a crisis like the current one, it is extremely important that we have money that we can use to invest to scale up our ICT solutions, for example. These kind of costs are often not covered by donors, who don't want to fund overhead. But we do have to make these costs. Third, we have special attention for vulnerable groups. Not all of these groups are equally beloved by donors. With unrestricted funding, you can also help the vulnerable."
Marieke van Schaik
Red Cross Netherlands
"A possible disadvantage of unrestricted, multiyear funding is that you may be continuing funding while a charity isn't managed well. Then as a funder you have to say: we won't do this any more, this doesn't work. But actually I think you can do that better with unrestricted funding. A project is easy to terminate, but with unrestricted, long-term funding you can say: we observe these problems - what are you planning to do about it? You can give an organization the opportunity to change it."
Marieke van Schaik
Red Cross Netherlands