Balancing act: Need vs Budget
At this time of year, we’re busy with budget finalisation, and matching what we hope to accomplish in the year ahead with seasonal inflows of grants and donations.
Unfortunately, funds awarded in response to funding requests sometimes fall short of the total funding needed to achieve everything we wish to do, and adjusting finely-tuned plans, programs or timelines becomes necessary. Here is how we balance program activity, scope and timelines to fit budget constraints, while still making progress toward our desired outcomes and impact for country children and their communities:
If and how a grant-funded program is altered depends on what the program is, how much the prospective donor is giving, and how flexible they, our clients, and we, can be in terms of delivery, timing and overall expectations.
Once the funding team know the total available funding, we look at what proportion of the original ask that represents, confer with the implementation and delivery teams, and investigate other funding options, before re-framing the program in any way. There are several options we consider.
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 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 who may have 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. A program logic model is an essential tool for this exercise.
If a budgeted activity with discrete inputs and outputs correlates to the available funding, this is often an acceptable option for all stakeholders.
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, such as:
-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 – 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 cornerstone foundation funder help us approach other funders or partners who 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 – including brainstorming project segmentation, flexibility in terms of timing, supporting additional funding applications, developing networks and facilitating introductions on our behalf.
We are currently looking to fill funding gaps on several programs and projects. If you’d like to explore co-funding opportunities that leverage your donation dollars, please reach out, we’d love to hear from you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org