One of the biggest problems facing grassroots organizations in the developing world is a lack of funding. This is the case for many international NGOs and larger organizations as well; however, the majority of funding sources that are available to larger, internationally recognized and connected organizations, are completely out of reach for these smaller groups. The unfortunate aspect of this is that it is often the small grassroots groups that are implementing the most change in a culturally relevant and sustainable manner and that are having the biggest impact in local communities. Furthermore, local organizations do not have to employ expensive consultants, foreign experts, pay for international plane tickets or the overheads associated with running a large office. Smaller grassroots organizations are also free from much of the bureaucracy that is endemic to international development through large NGOs or governmental initiatives.
While working with FORUDEF we have definitely encountered the difficulties associated with the search for funding. FORUDEF is a small organization that is implementing excellent programs; however, it is not affiliated with a European or North American agency, and so is not in a position where it can access much of the funding that is available. It is easiest to access resources within the country that an NGO works in; however, there is not much money to be raised from within Cameroon, and grassroots organizations in developing countries must often look outside of their own borders to secure funding. Even with an official registration in Cameroon, audited financial records and a history of effective work, FORUDEF, without a partnering organization in a donor country, is not able to access the resources that could bring about significant changes in the areas in which it works.
The difficulty of getting resources to grassroots organizations is an issue that has received increased attention recently. One organization that has identified empowerment of grassroots organizations by connecting them to much-needed resources as being essential to effective development is Global Giving. Global Giving has made connecting the resources of individuals and organizations in the West to grassroots groups in the developing world its primary objective. Founded in 2002, Global Giving is an online marketplace where individuals can view projects posted by grassroots groups around the world and make a contribution directly to the project being promoted. All the projects and groups featured on Global Giving’s website have met the extensive due diligence requirements of Global Giving and have been identified as trustworthy organizations implementing effective projects in their local communities. Since 2002, Global Giving has enabled over 200,000 donors to contribute more than $48 million dollars to over 4,000 grassroots projects in the developing world.
The reason we are now writing about this is that, after months of planning, organizing and developing a project, FORUDEF has met Global Giving’s due diligence requirements and has the opportunity to become a permanent partner. This is an incredible opportunity for FORUDEF and one that can provide invaluable resources to those who need them the most. To become a permanent partner of Global Giving, FORUDEF needs to win the upcoming Open Challenge. The Open Challenge happens three times a year, and it offers groups the chance to promote one project on Global Giving’s website for a month. In the course of that month, the group needs to raise a minimum of $4,000 (USD) from at least 50 different donors. The reason these conditions are put in place is that Global Giving wants to promote organizations and projects that have the networks and contacts available to fully utilize this type of fundraising strategy. Organizations need to demonstrate that they will benefit from the services that Global Giving provides and that they can take advantage of a web-based approach to raising funds. If a group does not meet the requirements set out in the Open Challenge, any funds raised are forwarded to them and they have the chance to participate in the next Open Challenge. Groups that do meet the requirements become permanent partners of Global Giving, and can promote additional projects on the website on a continuing basis.
We have submitted a project to Global Giving that will focus on creating income generating opportunities for the women of Ote through cassava processing. This is a viable way to transform the economic environment for these women, and empower them to make significant improvements in their families and their community. Over the next month, we will be promoting this project and encouraging people to support a project that has the potential to make a lasting impact. Please share this information with your friends, families and networks, as we hope to meet the requirements of the upcoming Open Challenge and form a permanent partnership between FORUDEF and Global Giving.
The Open Challenge starts on August 1st. We will post updates regularly, as well as a direct link to our project’s page on Global Giving. We’re excited about the prospects of this opportunity both for FORUDEF and for the women that the project will help, and we would very much appreciate your partnership as we work together to make a difference here in Cameroon.