Syndicate content


Why is there no ‘Fundraisers Without Borders’? Big missing piece in development.

Duncan Green's picture

There are statisticians and musicians without borders- even clowns and elephants without borders. So why not "Fundraisers without Borders"? Duncan Green on how civil society organizations might benefit from an organization that could raise funds across borders and why better resource mobilization at the local level may be more important.

keep calm and fundraiseThere are an extraordinary number of ‘without borders’ organizations (see here, or an even longer list here) – every possible activity is catered for, from chemists to clowns (and that’s just the c’s). But one seems to be missing, and it may well be the most useful – why is there no ‘fundraisers without borders’?

Mike Edwards argues that ‘we should focus as much attention as possible on strengthening the financial independence of voluntary associations, since dependence on government contracts, foundations or foreign aid is the Achilles’ heel of authentic civic action.’

That is true both because no-one in their right mind would prefer national organizations to be aid dependent, when they could raise funds from their own societies, but also because many of the increasing attacks on ‘civil society space’ are justified by governments on the grounds that CSOs are pawns of foreign funders.

It would be unrealistic (and probably disastrous) to just try and export today’s northern fundraising techniques to CSOs in developing countries. Like everything else, fundraising is highly context specific both in terms of culture and history, so helping people identify what works locally and encouraging south-south exchanges of ideas might be better. One such example is Zakat, which has massive potential in any country with a significant Muslim population. Fundraisers without Borders could help by collecting and publicising Zakat-compatible fundraising drives from around the world.

Strategy to Avoid Confusion when Giving to Charity

Caroline Jaine's picture

I have been a life long fund-raiser, but recently I have been a confused giver.  This short article may help me (and others) see through the mists of great causes towards building a personal giving strategy.
Back in the day (that will be the 1970s), charities had “flag days” – once a year I would stand outside Gateway Supermarket on the Gloucester Road in Bristol and wave a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) tin under the noses of passersby, and they would exchange a few coins for a paper flag on a pin.  If we were lucky, we got a one pound note folded into the slot. Together with two friends, our efforts extended to carol singing, putting on shows and even a fete in our back garden.  We were thanked for our charitable efforts by the Lord Mayor of Bristol with tea and cake at City Hall on College Green (known then as The Council House). Life was simple: even though we were children, we did what we could for the one charity we cared about most.
Fast forward a few decades and I have helped to raise funds for tsunami survivors, villagers to ride bicycles in Africa, the conflict-effected of Syria, journalists at war, children’s homes in Sri Lanka, air ambulances, homeless charities, hospitals, flood victims in Pakistan, and widows in Iraq (to name a few).  These charities have all had a special place in my heart for one reason or another.

Could Crowdsourcing Fund Activists as well as Goats and Hairdressers?

Duncan Green's picture

I’ve often wondered if Oxfam or other large INGOs could include the option of sponsoring an activist, either as something to accompany the goats, toilets, chickens etc that people now routinely buy each other for Christmas, or instead of sponsoring a child. I had vague ideas about people signing up to sponsor an activist in Egypt or South Africa, and in return getting regular tweets or Facebook updates. Alas, I’ve never managed to persuade our fundraisers to give it a go.

Now it’s come a bit closer to home. My son, who is a community organizer for the wonderful London Citizens, is currently looking to raise funds to work with a bunch of institutions in Peckham, South London. I couldn’t help him much as I’m rubbish at fundraising, (sure I’m a huge disappointment to him) but it did start me wondering whether there is an activist equivalent to the kind of crowdsourcing sites that are all the rage for small businesses (Kiva, Kickstarter etc). So, inspired by the feedback to my Monty Python bleg, I tweeted a request for sites.

What emerged was a (for me) previously invisible ecosystem of crowdfunding options for radicals. Here’s the list of the links people sent it: