Brilliant model for brilliant proposals for brilliant target groups!

Published by Gerbren Deves on

Having trouble framing the right case for support for specific donors? Do all your proposals address roughly the same issues? Are all your proposals aimed at roughly the same target group? Are you looking to target a new type of donor? Are you looking for inspiration in framing your case for support?
If the answer to one of these questions is ‘yes’, then you need to continue reading this blog!
And if all your answers are ‘no’, you still need to continue reading this blog and tell people about this. Because you’re about to see a fabulous model that can help you with framing your case for support, but with a content and target group that may not be the main focus of your organization.

model GerbrenThe model is very simple (credit: unknown, see below), and it basically assumes the following statements:
1. There are organizations that fill a gap and there are organizations that aspire change
2. There are donors who give out of altruism and there are donors who give out of self-interest

Traditionally (and I realize I am generalizing here), specific types of organizations are overrepresented in the different quadrants:

• DELIVERY: humanitarian organizations like MSF -> effective services delivered to beneficiaries, supported by donors who give for philanthropic reasons.
• BENEFIT: art organizations like the Tate Gallery -> donors who feel good about supporting a cultural cause they are interested in, while receiving tangible advantages.
• PROTEST: advocacy organizations like Amnesty International -> a credible voice and action on behalf of the beneficiaries, supported by altruistic donors.
• REVOLUTION: political parties like the Tea Party -> invitation to be part of a movement of change

The way you can use this model is by defining the quadrant that is closest to your organization (your comfort zone), and then define how other quadrants can be used in your fundraising. I can illustrate this from the perspective of the organization I work for, MSF.

Comfort zone
MSF is, indeed, an organization that mainlyyou-are-now-leaving-the-comfort-zone1 fills a gap. And MSF is, indeed, mainly supported by altruistic donors. So we definitely are in the quadrant DELIVERY.

Easiest quadrant
Now, the easiest quadrant for us to move to is the BENEFIT-quadrant: making a case for support with our ‘gap-filling’ projects to donors who (also) give out of self-interest. On a regular basis we do incorporate tangible benefits for oi_love_benefits_invitation-r5782cd7c34184d54aa2ebb274e53551d_zk9c4_324ur donors, based on their needs & wishes. This is not more than being donor-centered and acknowledging that, if you ask for value, you must be willing to return value.

More challenging quadrant
It gets more challenging when we want to move over to the PROTEST-quadrant. MSF is a hands-on, action-oriented organization, providing medical emergency aid. But the second part of our self-created mandate is aimed at realizing change: speaking out (témoignage or advocacy). A recent and well-publicized example was our call for more help in the Ebola crisis. In addition, at the turn of the century we established the so-called Access Campaign, to push for access to, and the development of life-saving and life prolonging medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines for patients in MSF programs and beyond. And sometimes we are looking to create change by providing our direct medical help. In Uzbekistan for example, we are introducing a new treatment for patients with multidrug-resistant TB. And with this we are pushing for worldwide change in the treatment of this disease. Raising funds in the PROTEST-quadrant would be asking our philanthropic donors to support these activities.

Tricky quadrant?
The most challenging (indeed the quadrant opposing our comfort zone) is moving over to the REVOLUTION-quadrant: raising support for our ‘change activities’ among people who (also) give out of self-interest. We can certainly do this when the benefits for the donor are not directly linked with the activities. But it gets tricky when the donor has a commercial benefit from our activities, such as benefitting from accessibility of certain medicines. Then our independence is severely threatened, and it is highly unlikely that we would accept that support.

So all in all it is very possible for us to frame cases for support in each quadrant. What about you guys? And are you just as enthusiastic about this model as I am? I really like it, as it can help you think out-of-the-box, but it also forces you to take the motivations and the interest of the donor into account. And how great would it be if we would propose the right projects to the right people? Great for the donors, great for the organizations, and thus great for the beneficiaries!

Note: This model was explained to me in a workshop at the IFC in 2013. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the speaker’s name, nor can I find her in the IFC archive. While I would have loved credit her for this model. Do you happen to know who gave this workshop, please let me know!

Gerbren Deves

Gerbren is Coordinator Relationship Management at Médecins Sans Frontières Holland (MSF, Artsen zonder Grenzen). He has been working for MSF since April 2006. Before that, he worked in 'the corporate world', in various (strategic) marketing functions.


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