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Whether you are a giver or receiver of grant funds, (or both), managing grants and funding relationships is a part of life for most NGOs.
NGOs often receive funds from donors, which they spend themselves and sometimes pass on to other organisations. For example, it is common for a government department to fund an international NGO which funds a local NGO which funds grass-roots community organisations.
Partnership is a ‘buzz’ word in the world of grant making. But it is sometimes used when in fact the relationship does not feel collaborative or equal.
Donors and NGOs need each other. Donors provide funds, and without funds NGOs cannot achieve their objectives. But donors also have their own agendas and objectives which they cannot achieve without implementing NGOs.
Developing good relationships and shared understanding is really important if both sides are to work together effectively to achieve their goals.
But managing relationships between organisations is not easy – you will probably have experienced challenges like language and culture differences, lack of understanding or respect for each other, problems with email communication, funds sent late, accountability reports sent late, difficult grant conditions and the messy complexity of implementing aid or development programmes. All this makes for a challenging environment.
The key to making funding relationships work is open and regular two way communication. In particular, in depth discussions before any agreements are signed will save problems during the implementation stage. Effective communication builds mutual trust, respect, and commitment to keep promises – all critical in funding relationships.