One of the biggest challenges in the field of peacebuilding and conflict resolution is finding financial support from donors. Every year, billions of dollars are invested in organizations and institutions that support conflict, whether directly or indirectly. But getting funders to think about peace, not war, is hard since the results are often delayed and connecting projects to their long-term effects can be difficult. There has never been a greater need for investments in development, conflict prevention, and post-conflict reconstruction—all areas that contribute to the promotion and maintenance of peace.
Recently, the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum in Washington D.C. explored this issue at one of their Investing in Peace panel series. Below are 7 tips taken from the discussion, which may be helpful to those of you working (and fundraising) in the peace building and conflict resolution field.
1. Showcase Personal Stories
People are moved by stories with a human interest. Bring personal stories and case studies to the table when talking with potential funders. Perhaps you have an inspirational story of a young Palestinian boy who once considered fighting and now works to promote peace. Stories like this can help funders see the human aspect of a project and place it within the larger picture.
2. Show, Don’t Tell
If possible, show funders how your work is helping by arranging a site visit or having them meet with people who work on the ground. If this is not possible, play up the personal stories. Use multimedia to tell your story—photos and video can be extremely powerful.
3. Analogize to Other Conflicts
Although context is important when discussing solutions, analogizing to other conflicts can help a potential funder see the feasibility of your idea. For instance, The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) used the International Fund for Ireland as a model for investing in reconciliation in the Middle East. Acknowledging that the international community has spent more than $1.5 billion on peace projects in Ireland and showcasing the success of these initiatives in reducing conflict in the region, ALLMEP used this example to push through the idea of an International Fund for Israeli and Palestinian Peace. While the context of the two conflicts differs, comparing the situation helped donors to see the functionality of combining efforts and investing in a larger fund, which would in turn help organizations in the field.
4. Reframe the Issue
Have an internal discussion about how to best market your projects. What are you doing now? How is it working? What can you do to broaden your efforts? Outreach to fields beyond peace, conflict resolution, and international development. What other fields might be relevant? Perhaps foundations that typically invest in education, technology, climate change, and crime reduction would be interested in your work. How can you remarket your project to address these issues? Potential funders may not see the connection until you make it relevant for them.
5. Think Micro
Do not promise peace. Promise something that you can deliver to funders on a reasonable timeline. Set realistic goals and establish benchmarks to reevaluate your work along the way. If your main goal is to build alliances between religious groups, think about how you can quantify this. Perhaps it means promising to set up 10 interfaith dialogues in the next year and increase the number of children involved in an interfaith soccer program from 25 to 50. Keep track of your numbers and highlight these when discussing your accomplishments.
6. Collaborate With Others
Identify organizations that may be interested in working together. Collaborating with others allows you to share resources, decrease your overhead, and reduce duplicate efforts. It will also allow you to tap into their networks and reach a broader audience. Funders want their investments to reach their full potential: sharing ideas and resources helps make the biggest difference.
7. Pitch for the Field at Large
Getting your ideas recognized among the conflict resolution community can be tricky. Since funding is limited, organizations are forced to pitch their ideas against each other and emphasize differences between their projects. Instead of drawing attention to the weaknesses of other organizations doing similar work, think about the bigger picture. Pitching for the field at large will help potential funders see the importance of investing in peace. Individual organizations will benefit as funding increases.
This post was written by Isha Mehmood and originally published on the Ashoka Peace Blog.