Should the proposal fund multiple coalition members?
Another question for coalition funding is the extent to which the coalition should raise funds for distribution to member organisations for the conduct of their work. In the early stages this could be the work of the small group of organisations forming the core of the coalition but in later stages it might imply distribution of small grants to a large number of network members for national level activities.
Supporting network members in their national activities is a very valuable way of building up the coalition’s work and supporting members who may often be giving considerable time and effort to the coalition activities without financial compensation. Especially for small NGO partners in the south, small grants can be a really helpful tool.
“Often people have good ideas but can’t get them pushed through funding structures because they don’t have the capacity. Without funds, it can be difficult to do more work to get more funds.”
Bob Mtonga, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
However, any such mechanism brings with it the potential for serious tension. Problems may arise if some partners get funding but others do not. There can be tension if those that do receive funding from the coalition then perform poorly either in the implementation of the work or in the grant management and reporting that is required. There is sometimes a tendency for a coalition, as a donor, not to be afforded the same respect from grantees as might be given to a traditional institutional donor, which can then result in tensions and difficulties for coalition staff.
In undertaking a small grants programme a number of points should be considered.
- Grants could be given on the basis of applications, guided by and judged against criteria that support the coalition’s goals.
- A mechanism should be established whereby decision-making is separate from the governance structures of the coalition – it can increase tension if the same group steering the coalition is also seen to be deciding which members get money and which don’t.
- Grantees should have a clear understanding of the reporting requirements regarding the money received. Failure to document activities or provide required reports should stand as a barrier to the receipt of further funds (including possibly sponsorship to attend meetings that might be organised separately).
Such mechanisms, if they are to be done transparently and fairly require a significant administrative effort and this should not be underestimated in planning such a scheme.
Working towards a ban on cluster munitions, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund established the Local Voices Global Ban project as a small grants scheme. The project awarded a total of 68 grants to 50 organisations in some 44 countries, supporting individual CMC member organisations around the world and helping to strengthen their work on cluster munitions at a national level. The project was administered by Landmine Action, with grants awarded on the basis of proposals received within set grant- giving cycles and decisions to award grants being made by a panel. This panel provided wider input into decision-making for the grant making organisations and also provided some political separation for decisions that could cause institutional tensions.