ECB Project Case Study: NGOs traditionally compete for funds | Politics | Business

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In 2008, following a first phase of the Emergency Capacity Building Project, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation accepted a proposal from CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision International worth $12.3 million for a further five year joint programme. Stepping outside their traditional grant making strategy to support this innovative project, the Gates Foundation provided $5 million of core funding and the agencies pledged to fundraise together the remaining $7.3 million. While CARE manages the contract with the Gates Foundation, the other five agencies signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the project
    1   NGOs traditionally compete for funds; what happens when they oin forces to raise money together? Catherine Gould and Katy Love September   2011   ECB PROJECT CASE STUDY    2   The   big   NGOs   traditionally   compete   for   funds;   what   happens   when   they    join   forces   to   raise   money   together?   1.   Six   NGOs   began   with   $5   million   in   the   bank;   and   $7   million   still   to   find…   CARE   International,   Catholic   Relief    Services   (CRS),   Mercy   Corps,   Oxfam,   Save   the   Children,   and   World   Vision   International   have   come   together   in   a   unique   collaboration   to   build   field,   agency,   and   sector   level   emergency   preparedness   and   response   capacity.   The   Emergency   Capacity   Building   (ECB)   Project   aims   to   improve   the   speed,   quality,   and   effectiveness   of    the   humanitarian   community   in   saving   lives,   improving   welfare,   and   protecting   the   rights   of    people   in   emergency   situations.   In   2008,   following   a   first   phase   of    the   ECB   Project,   the   Bill   and   Melinda   Gates   Foundation   accepted   a   proposal   from   the   six   NGOs   worth   $12.3   million   for   a   further   five ‐ year    joint   programme.   Stepping   outside   their   traditional   grantmaking   strategy   to   support   this   innovative   project,   the   Gates   Foundation   provided   $5   million   of    core   funding   and   the   agencies   pledged   to   fundraise   together   the   remaining   $7.3   million.   While   CARE   USA   manages   the   contract   with   the   Gates   Foundation,   the   other   five   agencies   signed   a   memorandum   of    understanding   (MOU)   outlining   the   project’s   management   structure   and   ways   of    working   for   the   five ‐ year    joint   venture.   This   case   study   recounts   the   agencies’   attempts   to   together   close   the   $7.3   million   funding   gap,   while   launching   and   sustaining   a   $12   million   programme.   Three   years   in,   the   ECB   Project   is   almost   fully   funded,   but   it   has   not   always   been   a   smooth    journey…   2.   Priorities   set,   a   fundraising   team   established,   but   in   a   changing   landscape   Where   and   how   did   the   NGOs   start   in   the   $7.3   million   task?   As   outlined   in   the   MOU,   an   inter ‐ agency   Fundraising   Committee   was   established   in   late   2008   with   a   face ‐ to ‐ face   start ‐ up   meeting.   This   group   comprises   of    funding   and/or   programme   representatives   from   each   of    the   six   NGOs   with   the   clear   remit   to   raise   the   remaining   funding   gap   by   building   relationships   and   awareness   with,   and   ultimately   gaining   financial   support   from,   donors.   Following   a   long   debate   it   was   decided   the   NGOs   would   not   commit   to   certain   funding   targets   per   agency   (due   to   their   different   sizes   and   fundraising   potential),   but   rather   to   raise   the   shortfall   as   a   group.   In   the   five   ECB   country ‐ level   consortia,   the   NGOs   and   their   partners   collaborated   to   develop   annual    joint   capacity   building   plans;   while   at   headquarters   level   the   six   NGOs   established   their   global   capacity ‐ building   priorities   and   targets.   Senior   programme   staff    from   each   of    the   NGOs   then   met   to   develop   these   into   a   series   of    concept   notes   for    joint   projects   which,   combined,   would   meet   key   field,   agency   and   sectoral   gaps   in   emergency   capacity.   These   provided   ‘a   more   concrete   basis    for     fundraising’  ,   according   to   the   ECB   Project   mid ‐ term   evaluation   (September   2011).   It   was   a   promising   start,   with   concept   notes,   plans   and   fundraisers   in   place,   but   the   funding   landscape   was   rapidly   changing   as   the   global   financial   crisis   hit.   And   though   the   trend   of    institutional   donors   increasingly   granting   to   consortia   continues,   the   power   of    the   ECB   member   agencies   to   raise   significant   sums   of    money   was   not   immediately   apparent.      3   3.   Experimenting   with    joint   fundraising   models   With   the   support   of    a   central   ECB   coordination   team,   the   six   NGOs   have   been   testing   a   number   of    fundraising   models   for   their    joint   concepts   and   plans,   with   mixed   success.   What   follows   is   a   series   of    mini   case   studies   of    five   of    the   approaches   being   used,   why   and   what   has   happened   so   far.   ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ A.   Fundraising   by   Committee    –   at   headquarters   level   At   the   global   level,   the   ECB   coordination   team   convened   the   Fundraising   Committee   of    the   six   agencies   on   a   monthly   basis.   The   goal   was   to   begin   efforts   to   close   the   funding   gap.   Early   on,   the   Committee   had   hoped   one   or   two   foundations   would   provide   the   bulk   of    the   money   needed.   However,   the   Fundraisers   soon   agreed   that   this   was   a   strategy   unlikely   to   be   successful,   especially   as   the   global   economy   crashed   in   2009.   According   to   a   CRS   fundraiser,   “the   economic   environment    and    timing   couldn’t    have   been   worse   when   ECB   Phase   II   kicked    off”  .   Instead,   the   Fundraisers   have   developed   a   matrix   of    funding   options   that   range   from   private   foundations   to   government   donors   and   assigned   which   agency   would   be   the   lead   on   those   conversations.   The   development   of    this   shared   matrix   was   quite   exciting;   as   one   CARE   fundraiser   put   it   “ the   matrix    may    be   the   best    you'll    get     from   six    competing   non ‐  profit    organizations,   because   at    the   end    of    the   day    revenue   streams   are   competitive ”.   There   is   a   “significant    level    of    transparency”    though   “agencies   are   somewhat    uncomfortable   sharing   too   much”,   a   World   Vision   staff    member   reflects.   It   was   a   big   step   forward   for   the   group;   agencies   that   traditionally   competed   for   funds   were   now   sharing   intelligence   about   their   donor   relationships.   They   began   to   approach   donors   on   behalf    of    the   ECB   Project,   though   not   as   a   group   of    six   as   they   had   done   with   the   Gates   Foundation.   However,   the   Fundraising   Committee   has   suffered   from   inconsistent   participation   and   a   lack   of    leadership;   “joint     fundraising   requires   a   lot    of    coordination”    says   one   ECB   team   member.   Additionally,   the   US   donors   are   not   particularly   interested   in   emergency   capacity   building   and   “it    has   been   tough   to   get    traction”    says   a   Save   the   Children   fundraiser,   as   “we   didn’t    have   buy    in    from   donors   other    than   the   Gates   Foundation”.   According   to   a   CRS   fundraiser,   “donors   are   simply    more   likely    to   respond    to   emergencies…   Sometimes,   in   terms   of     funding,    projects   are   before   their    time”  .   “The   ECB   Project    was   too   expensive    for    what    the   market    would    bear,   making   the    fundraisers’    task    difficult”    adds   a   World   Vision   programme   staff    member.   And,   given   the   challenging   fundraising   climate,   the   NGOs   were   in   a   difficult   position   and   had   to   choose   between   prioritizing   a    joint   agency   project   like   ECB   over   their   own   agency   priorities.   A   CARE   fundraiser   said   that   initially   “there   was   a   lot    of    good    will.   But    that    only    goes   so    far    in   keeping    people   on   task    to   achieve   a   goal  .”   In   addition,   the   decentralized   structure   of    NGOs   such   as   World   Vision   makes   fundraising   for   a   project   like   ECB   “very    challenging,   as   it    isn’t    necessarily    owned    by    any    of    the   individual    country    offices   and    therefore   doesn’t    always   get    on   the    fundraising   radar”  .   The   NGOs   began   taking   alternative   approaches   to   relying   exclusively   on   the   Fundraising   Committee…      4   B.   Fundraising   by   Committee    –   at   country   level   All   five   ECB   country ‐ level   consortia   were   receiving   Gates   Foundation   funds   from   the   global   level   annually,   but   instead   of    relying   on   those   funds   exclusively,   the   Bolivia   consortium   took   matters   into   their   own   hands.   Each   member   NGO   committed   to   having   someone   on   a   fundraising   group   to   share   information   and   coordinate   fundraising   attempts   to   make   up   funding   gaps   for   locally ‐ led   activities.   When   DiPECHO   announced   a   call   for   proposals   in   Bolivia,   the   fundraising   group   decided   that    joint   proposals   led   by   one   or   two   agencies   would   provide   more   impact   and   be   an   efficient   way   to   ensure   the   country   is   covered.   The   NGOs   are   able   to   submit    jointly   thanks   to   a   high   level   of    trust,   according   to   a   fundraiser   from   HelpAge   in   Bolivia.   A   fundraiser   from   Christian   Aid   in   Bolivia   agrees,   commenting   that   “the   opportunity    to   meet    other     fundraisers   [from   other    NGOs]   regularly    enables   the   exchange   of    ideas   and,   with   the    passing   of    time,   these   exchanges   are   more   open,   thanks   to   the   trust    that    is   generated”.   He   continues:    joint   fundraising   is   seen   as   an   opportunity   to   highlight   the   capacities   of    each   agency   and   build   on   them.   In   fact,    joint   fundraising   provides   an   opportunity   “to   work    together    on   a   larger    scale”,   with   agencies   beyond   the   srcinal   ECB   member   NGOs   collaborating.   In   spite   of    their   enthusiasm,   however,   a   CARE   Bolivia   staff    member   notes   the   challenges   in   prioritizing    joint   proposals   over   their   own   agency   fundraising   efforts.   In   fact,   these   decisions   are   often   made   at   the   global   level.   In   addition,   consultation   amongst   agencies   is   cumbersome   and   time ‐ consuming.   Given   the   challenges   of    widespread   consultation   required   in    joint   fundraising,   a   CRS   Bolivia   staff    emphasizes   that   the   consortium   must   keep   asking   itself    “when   is   it    more   effective   to   work    together    and    when   is   it    not?”    An   Oxfam   Bolivia   staff    member   believes   that    joint   fundraising   is   the   way   of    the   future;   consortium   fundraising   is   preferred   by   many   donors   as   a   way   to   cut   down   on   grant   administration.   He   says,   “ donors   have   signaled    that    consortium    proposals   will    be    preferred,   even   if    administrative   costs    for    agencies   are   higher,   because   impact    will    be   higher.”    While   continuing   to   be   opportunistic,   the   Bolivia   fundraising   group   is,   at   the   time   of    publication,   developing   a    joint   fundraising   strategy   to   enable    joint   programming   between   more   than   nine   NGOs.   ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ C.   Technical   Advisers   from   different   NGOs   gathering   around   a    joint   priority   Initially,   some   of    the   ECB   global ‐ level   technical   working   groups   expected   that   the   global   Fundraising   Committee   would   raise   the   funds   for   their    joint   concepts   and   plans.   When   funds   weren’t   forthcoming   (see   Case   A),   one   working   group,   comprised   of    Disaster   Risk   Reduction   (DRR)   Advisers   from   each   NGO,   began   to   fundraise   directly   themselves   for   a    joint   project   to   create   a   Practitioner’s   Guide   to   DRR.   CRS   technical   and   project   staff    approached   the   Office   of    US   Foreign   Disaster   Assistance   (OFDA)   on   behalf    of    the   DRR   Advisers   group   and   developed   a   proposal   at   the   end   of    2010.   When   funding   from   OFDA   wasn’t   forthcoming,   the   DRR   Advisers   mobilized   their   own   agency   funds   (CRS   and   Save   the   Children)   to   allow   work   on   the   Guide   to   start,   while   a   fundraiser   from   Mercy   Corps   secured   additional   funds.   CRS   continued   discussions   with   OFDA,   and   subsequently   learned   that   they   would   provide   the   remaining   funds   to   close   the   (now   smaller)   funding   gap   for   the   Guide.   ECHO   are   also   contributing   (see   Case   E).   The   direct,   project ‐ focused   fundraising   approach   seems   to   work…  
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