The examples and perspective in this article deal with Denmark’s wealthy charitable foundation segment. The techniques have helped many people raise money from Danish foundations and may also be useful for other types of fundraising such as running a crowdfunding campaign.
The eight steps to raise money from Danish foundations involves:
1. Understand the sector
2. Set up your team
3. Get your story straight
4. Put it in writing
5. Find and analyse grants
6. Create a working process
STEP 1: UNDERSTAND THE SECTOR:
Danes often tend to describe Danish foundations as “closed” “for insiders” and “unhelpful”. It is very difficult to define the typical foundation, however, the vast majority of foundations are “small”, “unstaffed” and have one paper-based application round per year.
While there are many purpose specific foundations in Denmark, many Danish foundations are general purpose foundations that fund a broad variety of causes, including: art, culture, social aid, emergency aid, entrepreneurship, business, health, children, communities, and international development.
Realdania is one of the wealthiest charitable foundations in the world and donated DKK 818M in 2014 ($122M).
STEP 2: SET UP YOUR TEAM:
Having the right qualifications in your team may be the key to successful fundraising. It is recommended to have a fluent Danish speaker onboard, who can break down the existing language barriers. Other strong skills include: analytic skills, curiosity, grit, the ability to use available mentors and networks, and having a structured working style.
3. GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT:
Before you even start fundraising, you have to define exactly what it is you are doing. I recommend people to start with the end in mind, by defining objective goals. What does success look like? Where is your project five years from now? Validate your idea among experts. Communicate with the future customers and/or the beneficiaries.
4. PUT IT IN WRITING:
You must believe in your idea and not be afraid to show it to the foundations. Foundations are critical and do not want to fund projects that are not well researched and planned. Make sure to develop a thorough application and a detailed description of the project in the Danish language.
5. FIND AND ANALYSE GRANTS:
Each foundation’s purposes are communicated in a set of criteria (often in Danish). Applying for grants that match your project’s goals will increase your chances of getting funded. There are very limited useful grant dictionaries and online resources on available Danish funds. The best book is “Vejviser til Legater og Fonde” which costs around DKK 1.100 ($167).
6. CREATE A WORKING PROCESS:
The typical working process is as follows;
1: Identify the grant
2: Research the grant
3: Write down how your project and intentions match with the foundation’s missions
4: Prepare documents
5: Apply for the grant
6: Register your activity.
Using a free cloud service such as Google Drive comes with several benefits such as synchronizing documents for team members and working in virtual teams. I recommend using such integrated productivity tools: Google Docs and Google Spreadsheet; to work on your standard application documents and to store important information about the foundations.
Powerful execution involves repeating the above working process efficiently for all foundations with available funds. Make a point to prioritize foundations that you expect will fund your project, and always make sure to meet the foundation’s application procedures. It is recommended to have a dialogue with the foundations during your application process.
Course-correct your fundraising efforts, and most importantly yourself. All fundraisers make mistakes, and you will need to fix those mistakes by honestly adjusting your fundraising appeal and overall strategy. The goal isn’t to be good at fundraising, the goal is to be good at what you do with the funds raised, so that your project will change the world for a better place.