A Tinder-type service to help fund your not-for-profit? It’s in sight.
For the arts, sports and not-for-profit sector, accessing corporate or government funding is often the difference between merely surviving, and thriving. Now, an online platform is redefining the complex funding application process with the goal of becoming the Tinder of external funding.
Jenni Giblin does life at a mile a minute – and that’s the way she speaks, too, barely pausing for breath.
She’s excited. Her online platform Funding HQ, which launched in lockdown, is creating fundraising strategies for the Kiwi groups and organisations that need them most. “School groups, small sporting organisations, arts groups, environmental groups,” says Giblin, ticking them off on her fingers. “They’re the types that don’t have a lot of spare money or resources but are doing really amazing things in the community.”
Funding HQ takes Giblin’s decades of experience earned in central government, local government and through her primary business Giblin Group, (which has worked to raise funds for multi million dollar projects such as the Hawke’s Bay Opera House and Taranaki’s esteemed Len Lye Centre), and turns it into an online funding guide.
It’s a modularised approach delivered in templates that organisations can subscribe to for a minimum of three months, explains Giblin. “We step through how to develop a strong case for investment – why should a funder give you money, how do your values align with theirs, the impacts you’re having in the community and what outcomes you can deliver that will make sense to a funder.”
There’s also a centralised database that’s updated weekly to reflect all the different funding streams and funds available to New Zealand organisations – central government, local government, philanthropic entities, corporate entities, the gaming community and private trusts.
And, thirdly, there’s guidance on ‘the ask’.
“That’s how best to contact the funder, what to say, how to put your proposal together and – crucially – how to look after your funders one you have them on board. Retention is very important.”
“It’s almost paint by numbers,” continues Giblin, “and it demystifies the whole fundraising process. Once an organisation has been through our process, our platform will create a fundraising strategy for them that will tell them how much they need to raise over a year, and what they need to be doing each month to stay on top of it.
Right now, a number of councils are buying subscriptions for community groups in their region who could do with the help and Funding HQ reports back to the council on how each group is progressing in their quest for funding.
But this is just phase one, Giblin cautions, and in the funding space, there is so much more to do.
In phase two, she’ll automate the platform so that it’s question-led, eliciting all the relevant information required to populate a strong funding application and building it out. “There will be a dashboard when you log in, and the programme will spit out letters and applications and so on, and track progress.” She says this approach will be particularly useful for volunteer organisations who might have a number of different people working on a big funding application at once “so it’s all in one place, not sitting in people’s homes in folders.”
Phase three is perhaps the most exciting, creating a matchmaking service – the Tinder of fundraising if you will – to pair organisations with a number of strong funding options that align with their goals. “We’ve had some early conversation with Philanthropy New Zealand about it, but it’s a massive piece of work.”
As with any platform of this type, data security for future phases is top of mind. “We’re looking at creating additional features like a secure vault of information where our users can manage their key documentation, and currently we’re mapping that out – it’s likely to involve a software plug-in that has appropriate security controls.”
Giblin’s keen to get moving. “What we have in the market so far is really the minimum viable product and people keep telling me I have to be patient – but I’m just not a patient person! I know the difference it will make to groups – groups that really are doing everything on the smell of an oily rag. We’ll get there, and I do believe it will make a huge difference to our communities in New Zealand.”
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