September 06

John and Dayna in Uganda – Donors

One of the goals that we had in coming to work with an NGO was to learn about the donor process.

For our entire working lives, we have always been fortunate to have the ability to contribute money to various organizations. While I tend to choose two or so favorite charities to send in donations to every year, Dayna has always “spread the wealth” and sends money to numerous foundations. Unfortunately, her shotgun approach (which is an ironic choice of words given she donates to gun control organizations) has the lousy side effect of us receiving daily, copious amounts of written solicitations via snail mail from tons of different outfits looking for donations – killing a lot of trees!!
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The bottom line is we complete a bit of due diligence on the groups we want to support, send in our donations, and hope that our contributions are going to a worthy cause. There are always lingering questions, however. Is the organization using too much money to raise more money? Is their overhead reasonable? Are they spending where they should? Are they getting results?

So what about a big concern such as the NGO I am working for? How does it get funding? How is the money spent? What are the requirements and regulations involved? Turns out the answers to these questions are a bit complicated and very interesting.

Early in my tenure at Marie Stopes I participated in a projects review team meeting where people presented the current status of all the grants and funding year to date. It was fascinating to learn that there are multiple ways that the various projects are being funded, that there are short and longer term revenue streams, some funding sources are actually turned away due to unrealistic conditions and expectations, and some come donations come with certain stipulations (such as Output Based Aid where milestones achieved trigger a funding payment).

Some interesting examples:

ARC Project (Accelerating the Rise in Contraceptive Prevalence in Uganda)
This is a 5 year cooperative agreement with USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and DFID (Department for International Development) to improve access to family planning services. They focus on extending geographical coverage of the districts in the Country, increasing outreach operations, increasing long-term family planning methods currently available in public and private providers through training and accreditation, improving service quality, funding voucher programs, and other specific functions.

U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America’s interests while improving lives in the developing world.

Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Initiative
With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MSU in partnership with Program for Accessible health, Communication and Education (PACE) and Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) launched a nationwide initiative on Cervical Prevention and Treatment Initiative (CCPTI) to run from 2013 to 2016 serving 440,000 women across Uganda for screening and provide treatment to 40,000 women.
This four year initiative will take the patronage of the honorable Minister of Health and will work in close collaboration with District Health officials, the Uganda Cancer Institute, PATH and the Ministry of Health. According to the Ministry, Cervical Cancer is one of the two most common causes of cancer-related deaths in Uganda and yet it is both preventable and curable if detected early.

So there are many different organizations assisting MSU with different stipulations and funding amounts:

• UNFPA (the United Nations Fund for Population Activities) has a strict “use it or lose it” structure to their funding
• GPOBA (the Global Partnership on Output Based Aid (World Bank)) distributes funds based on particular outputs being met (for example, number of implants provided in the field)
• SIFPO (the Support for International Family Planning Organizations) is a 9 month funded project for male contraception
• CHAU (the Community Health Alliance Uganda) has a smaller “Link Up project” where they are going to use Tuk Tuks (three wheeled motorcycles) with a nurse for outreach…. Way cool!
• And there are many others (CIDA from Canada, AID from Australia, DANIDA from Denmark, David and Lucille Packard Foundation, European Commission, NORAD from Norway, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, KfW bank of Germany, SIDA from Sweden, Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs….. lots to keep track of!!)

Cost containment is always an issue for any organization, and MSU is no exception (it was interesting to hear the finance people discuss certain line items in the yearly budget that require monitoring).

Continually monitoring each different project is a challenging endeavor. Monitoring funding, constant fund raising, meeting donor requirement(s), following all legal issues, examining current corporate landscape, dealing with corruption scandals, and unfortunately the continual threats to funding such as current political situations (family planning is a volatile subject) make it complicated to run an NGO, yet to the credit of all those here at MSU, they are making it happen!