Waiting for Pennies from Heaven: Fundraising Resources for Community-Based Organizations in the Developing World

Big money is on the table. $2.5 billion here. $40 billion there.

This week it’s SoCap. Last week it was the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. And how can we forget the hulabaloo of the Millenium Development Goals Summit and the Clinton Global Initiative of the week before?

As the development experts engage in these feel-good exercises, demonstrating little to no awareness or concern for the inequity at the root of poverty, and otherwise generally endeavor to “solve” poverty from their own worldview, my thoughts can’t help but drift…

As those gathered at these high profile events discuss mega-infusions of funding in the developing world, many (even most?) small, local organizations in the developing world must wonder, “Is a trickle of that money ever going to reach us?”

The web of local civil society organizations and grassroots initiatives around the world is still largely undocumented and unrecognized. WiserEarth.org has registered over 110,000 local organizations and movements working on a wide variety of issues in 243 countries. They estimate that there may well be over 1,000,000 such local groups operating across the globe.

A Save the Children UK report entitled “Bottlenecks and Dripfeeds” discusses the issues that stop the smooth flow of funds to support these indigenous, community-level initiatives, specifically with regards to HIV and AIDS. These are:

• Providing resources to communities is not taken seriously at global and national levels.
• Current funding mechanisms do not allow for resource ‘flows’ that reach community-based organizations.
• Donors and governments are not held accountable for spending to support community initiatives.

We all know there is a large discrepancy between the resources that are mobilized or acquired by donors, governments and international organizations for global development, and what percentage of the money actually reaches communities and families. Unfortunately, until the aid delivery system changes to meet their needs, local groups will be competing for scarce resources.

I share this list of resources on my blog to hopefully help in that constant struggle of resource mobilization. Please share these with the local grassroots leaders you know who, despite a lack of recognition and resources, continue to serve their communities with undying vision, commitment, and resourcefulness.

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