Questions that lead to Questions
The Part-Funding Dilemma
The conversation often starts like this:
“Hi Felicity, it’s Jim here from XYZ Foundation. I’m ringing to let you know your funding application has made our shortlist, but we’re not able to fund the full amount you’ve asked for. Are you willing to accept part-funding, and will that change the program in any way?”
As short-listings and offers of funding are generally hard won, and may have evolved over many months, my initial response to the first part of the question is invariably “Yes”.
But responding to the second part of the question is far more difficult. Here’s why…
If and how the program is changed depends on what the program is, how much the prospective donor is able to give, and how flexible they, and we, can be in terms of delivery, timing and overall expectations.
Once I have an idea of the likely funding amount, and what proportion of the original ask that represents, I usually need to reread the funding submission, pull out the calculator, confer with our implementation and delivery teams, and investigate other funding options, before I start to describe how the program would or could change.
One option is to scale back the project or program in terms of the reach (i.e. reducing the number of individual children or communities supported) or the scale of the intervention (e.g. offering health screening across one or two key allied health disciplines, rather than via a full multidisciplinary team). This is very often an acceptable and quick way to utilise the funding, with costs, activities, outputs, beneficiary numbers and outcomes all being adjusted relative to the funding received. Quite often, we will use the outcomes of the scaled back program to seek further funding to assist those children and communities that initially “missed out”.
An alternative is to break the program into mini projects or stages. Although each one is necessary for the success of the main project, they may each have relative independence and specific objectives. The program logic model is an essential tool for this exercise.
If a budgeted activity with discrete inputs and outputs correlates to the funding on offer, is that an acceptable option for our beneficiaries, ourselves, and the funder?
Looking beyond that initial mini project or stage, and with the support and assistance of our base funder, we can investigate other options for realising the “big picture” program.
Would our part-funder be able to support a later-stage activity upon completion of the first stage, maybe spreading the project across a couple of disbursements?
Do we have other potential funders in the pipeline we can pull over the line to fund other mini projects or stages within the whole project? Is there a component of the total project (e.g. the evaluation) that can be meaningfully outsourced on a pro bono basis? Will our current part-funder help us pull those prospects over the line, or help us approach other funders or partners that can help deliver the total project?
Open and honest communication about what is and isn’t possible with the dollars on offer, and acceptance of that from all stakeholders, is one key to addressing the part-funding dilemma. The other key is support beyond the financial from our funders – brainstorming project segmentation, flexibility in terms of timing, leveraging part-funding, supporting additional funding applications, developing networks and making introductions – are all part of the mix.
We’re currently looking to fill funding gaps on several programs, as follows:
Paediatric Developmental Program – our flagship program, we currently have 250 country children with complex needs on our waiting list. With your help, we can provide the diagnosis and the support they need to have healthy, happy futures. Sponsor a country child to achieve their full potential and help Royal Far West close the funding gap of $3045 per child.
Bushfire Recovery Program – with the support of UNICEF Australia, HP, Paul Ramsay Foundation, Charles Sturt University and Little Wings, this program is currently helping children and communities eight severely impacted bushfire regions of NSW overcome the trauma of the 2019-20 bushfire season. Communities in three additional regions are identified as being in need of similar assistance, and we are seeking around $60,000 to conduct the program for 12 months in each of these areas.
If you’d like to explore ways you can assist, please call Felicity on 02 8622 6851 or email email@example.com