What level of funding can be expected?
Funding for NGO coalition work has generally come from the following three sources:
- Trusts and foundations
- Individual NGOs
Where funding comes from governments this can have an impact on how the coalition will be perceived. Is the coalition going to criticise donor states as strongly as it might criticise others? Alternatively, is the authority of the coalition limited because it is seen as a mouthpiece for certain states? However, having multiple donors supporting the work not only increases the level of funding available but is also a positive indication of buy-in to the coalition’s agenda.
Not all coalition efforts will get funding. Many may get only very limited funding, severely restricting the activities that can be undertaken and so shaping the priorities of work. Underfunding in a coalition can also increase tensions. There is a constant balance required between planning what you need to do to achieve goals and being realistic about the amount of money that is likely to be brought in.
The focus of the coalition will have a major impact on whether funding can be found or not. In part this will reflect how easy the issue is to communicate and sell and how realistic the chance of success is considered to be. However, funding can also be limited if the issue under scrutiny is one around which donors have political sensitivities. This can include anxieties about how their own policies might be put under pressure, or how support to the theme might be perceived by others.
There are many factors that can affect funding decisions and often such decisions are made on the basis of instinct rather than hard and fast analysis of evidence. The coalition needs to project a sophisticated understanding of the issue in question, both on paper and through convincing representatives, and a sense that they have relations with people in a position to make a difference on the issue. The coalition also needs to project a realistic sense of what can be achieved, including the levels of funding that might be raised, and a competence to take money and manage the grant process effectively in accordance with donor requirements. As it is between members of the coalition, trust is a very important component of funding relationships.