Nonprofits and international NGOs are only as strong and influential as the people who lead them. While there has often been a hot debate about institutional funders funding salaries, we know that none of the incredible organizations all over the world could do their work without staff members and leaders to drive programs.
We are beginning a new series featuring prominent international development leaders. We think it’s important to highlight the tireless work of individuals that are filling a void left by the government to provide crucial social services all over the world, fighting for basic human rights and services for those in need. We hope that these leaders can provide you with the hope, inspiration, and motivation to keep fighting the good fight and follow in their trailblazing footsteps.
Fundraising is hard – especially for small organizations that are just getting started. We suggest thinking about how you can “diversify” your fundraising portfolio, so you aren’t relying on only one set of donors to fund your programs. Think of it like minimizing your risk by having a diverse set of revenue streams.
We suggest starting with individuals in your network. Think about who you can ask for small donations and who might be able to contribute more over the long-term. Maybe you might consider getting a specific project funded and then through the results of that project, you can demonstrate that you are making a difference, which could be a jumping off point for getting more donations.
Building out a board of directors is also really important not only for donations but for organizational governance. Board members are the “checks and balance” system within your organization, helping you to manage your administrative systems, receive funding, and ensuring compliance with local laws. Think about including board members with varying and complementary skills.
Then, once you have a group of donors, a solid board of directors, and some project results, you can start pursuing grants. Institutional funders like to see stability and sustainability, so setting up a strong system of support at the outset (plus administrative systems!) before applying for grants will increase your likelihood of success.
We know that grant writing can be overwhelming and well, misunderstood. Today, we want to share a few quick and dirty tips about grant writing that can help those of you who are foraying into this world for the first time. Hopefully it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway), make sure to do research before applying for grants. The research will narrow down thousands of grantors so you can find those that are most closely aligned with your project focus area (eg girls education, healthcare, etc.) and geographic interests to increase the likelihood of success! Here are some more tips:
While this list is by no means exhaustive, and some funders will ask for more information (such as biographies of staff members and/or board members, annual reports, audited financial statements, and more!), hopefully this general framework will help you think about how to frame your project and structure a proposal. Happy writing!
Every time we read the news, the stories are more and more horrendous. From the incessant gun violence in my home country, to the loss of fundamental women’s rights in Afghanistan at the hand of the Taliban, to Mother Nature being ravaged by constant exploitation of the natural world in the name of profit – how do we find solace?
When it feels like hope is lost, there is always a glimmer of hope when you least expect it. From a $100,000 grant award for a client that makes up 20% of their annual operating budget to a new client that is addressing systemic injustice through an innovative approach to economic advancement – our partners give us the hope and inspiration to continue moving forward and fighting the good fight. Thank you for inspiring us each and every day with your tireless dedication to your communities.
The history of humanity has proven that external influence creates internal turmoil. It may be a surprise to come, but us practitioners in the global development space are truly trying to right the wrongs of our ancestors.
At Hilo, we constantly consider how philanthropy perpetuates this cycle – how it inherently takes a colonial, top-down approach when implemented on an international scale. While we will not stop working to uplift marginalized partners and use these systems to their advantage (despite the fact that the resources have largely been derived from exploitation and greed), we often ask ourselves, how can we contribute to a larger systems change?
As 2020 comes to a close, we want to take a moment for reflection on such a trying, turbulent, and unprecedented year. The pandemic has forced us to slow down, take pause, and consider what is important to us. It has brought us many mixed emotions and caused a reckoning of global proportions – seeing the reality of our interconnectedness and the weight of our decisions on many others besides those in our immediate communities.
At Hilo, we are a “hilo” or a bridge for the international community, connecting community leaders with the funding necessary to bring their projects to life. We recognize that the Global North has an undeniable role in the funding hierarchy, and rather than fighting against these systems, we aim to use them to lift up those who have been underrepresented for far too long.
We are grateful that our partners have trusted us with this great responsibility, and we will come back in 2021 with a renewed fervor to continue our work.
Hello and welcome to Hilo Consulting! We are so glad that you’re here. As it was for many, 2020 was a year of change – and opportunity. When we opened Hilo’s proverbial doors in 2020, it was based on the premise that, after many years working for both national nonprofits and international NGOs, we could have a bigger impact serving more organizations. Thus, the seed for Hilo was planted, and the rest is history.
Our work is grounded in gratitude and humility, and that is a constant in all that we do. We have deep gratitude for the incredibly passionate individuals that have started their own nonprofits and NGOs, making changes big and small in communities far and wide. And, we are humble in that we know no matter how much we do for our partner organizations, there are always more ways to serve.
With that in mind, we invite you to follow along our journey. We are just getting started, and we are excited to see what we can accomplish together.