Identifying Funding Sources
Since raising funds for CBPR partnerships is a challenging and competitive process, we begin this unit with some general fundraising strategies and tips to consider.
1. Utilize all of your connections
When it comes to networking, everyone is familiar with the phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This is especially true in the fundraising community. With so many projects to choose from, sometimes the only deciding factor can be a solid referral or recommendation and good word from a credible source.
To ensure that your partnership is not hindered by this common practice, when looking for resources (e.g. funding, in-kind support, people), it is important to educate yourself and be aware of all the different types of connections each partner may have to funding sources. Consider the question “who benefits from our success and how do we enlist them to help continue our efforts?” Ask partnership members to provide names of contacts they have with different organizations, associations, and sectors in the community. These may include the following: corporate/business sector, arts and culture sector, professional associations, civic organizations/associations, government (local, state, federal), foundations (local, state, national, corporate), other community initiatives, school boards/PTA, faith/personal/ethnic organizations, and key individuals.
Write down all these connections on a master list, and refer to it regularly. When writing a grant/responding to an RFP, meeting a funder at a conference or networking event, mentioning your work and relationship with the person in common may go a long ways towards your credibility than anything you may have achieved on paper. Before asking an individual or group for money, think about what you can give them in return.
2. Be proactive, not reactive
While many partnerships sit back and wait for the appropriate RFPs to come their way, they could be making more progress by proactively contacting program officers at foundations, government agencies, or even individual benefactors in the community. By contacting these individuals and giving them a general overview of your work (as well as sending them any written materials if requested), and letting them know that your partnership is always interested in CBPR funding sources, you may reap the benefits of this later, when the program officer is sending out a RFP, or a benefactor is ready to donate a good sum of money towards your program.
Involve funding agencies as partners. Invite representatives of current and prospective funding agencies to visit your community and see your work in action up-close (e.g., invite to be a speaker at a community forum, to serve on an advisory committee).
3. Consider non-traditional, creative ways to fund your partnership
As noted above, when operating in an environment where funding is scarce, it’s important to be creative and think “outside the box” to be successful. The list below includes a number of creative ways to obtain financial resources for your partnership (Community Toolbox):
Share positioned and resources among organizations
Become a line item in an existing budget
Incorporate activities and services in organizations with a similar mission
Apply for grants
Using existing personnel resources
Find free/low-cost personnel resources (e.g. volunteers, interns, shared positions)
Solicit in-kind support
Develop a fee-for-service structure
Acquire tax revenues or public funding
Secure endowments and giving arrangements
Establish membership fees and dues
Develop a business plan
4. Consider a wide range of funding sources
For example, did you know…
The Indian Health Service funds CBPR through its Native American Research Centers for Health: www.ihs.gov/MedicalPrograms/Research/narch.cfm
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development funds CBPR through its Community Outreach Partnership Centers Program: www.oup.org/programs/aboutCOPC.asp
The Administration for Children and Families funds CBPR through its Head Start-University Partnerships Program: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/project/tprojectIndex.jsp?topicId=6
The Sociological Initiatives Foundation funds CBPR: www.grantsmanagement.com/sifguide.html
The Wellesley Institute funds CBPR in urban communities in Canada: www.wellesleyinstitute.com
Funding agencies that say “we don’t fund research” may fund community-based participatory approaches to community problem-solving, as Example 5.ustrates:1.1 below illustrates:
Example 5.1.1: Funding Agencies that “Don’t Fund Research”
may Fund CBPR
“…I participated in the Northwest Health Foundation’s 2nd annual conference on Community-Based Collaborative Research, “In Partnership with the Community: Collaborative Research to Improve Health…” One of the conference sessions featured presentations by two funding agencies with experience in funding community-based collaborative research projects. This article reports on the experience of the WK Kellogg Foundation; a future column will focus on the California Breast Cancer Research Program.
Terri Wright, program director at the WK Kellogg Foundation, began her presentation with the emphatic statement that “the Kellogg Foundation does not fund research.” She went on to explain that the Foundation is interested in solving community-identified concerns and that “the only approach to understanding health issues is to engage community voices.” The Foundation’s mission is "to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations." For over ten years, the Foundation has been funding CBPR (CBPR) approaches to understanding and solving health issues. “CBPR allows us to operationalize our mission,” she noted. “We have a major commitment to engaged institutions and engagement implies equality, mutual responsibility, partnerships for the long haul and not just until the publication gets out.”
In response to the question, “What makes CBPR proposals competitive, what makes them stand out?” Ms. Wright highlighted a number of observations from her eight years at the Foundation: Authentic relationships in which community members are integral, equal partners – not superior or subordinate to institutional partners. Recognition that the health of communities requires community leadership and engagement, where communities are co-producers of knowledge. She mentioned the importance as a funder of not solely relying on what is written on paper, but actually going out and meeting with the partners to talk with them directly and frankly. “We have a sharp antenna for picking up when the community is being marginalized,” she noted. “We ask critical questions: Who defined the problem? Who conceptualized the problem? In what language is the problem defined? How did the community become engaged? Whose agenda is it? Who proposed the strategy?”
Ms. Wright illustrated her points with a story about a proposal she reviewed and subsequently funded after a year-long iterative process with the applicant. The initial proposal sought funding for a research project that would test an intervention designed to improve indoor air quality and decrease consequences of asthma in low-income housing. Although framed as fairly traditional community-placed research dominated by researchers, there were several “hooks” that caught the Foundation’s attention and imagination: The proposal involved an unusual collaboration between three universities, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a local foundation, a regional foundation, an energy company, the public housing tenants association and others. Further, the tenants association identified asthma as a problem and approached one of the universities for assistance with taking a systemic approach to solving the problem that included policy change aspirations. After a series of meetings and numerous phone calls between the Foundation and the partners involved, what ultimately was funded and implemented looked very different from what had initially been proposed. For example, rather than have university-based graduate research assistants going door-to-door to collect data from low-income housing residents, residents themselves were trained and hired for this role. Rather than have a study design in which half of the residents were randomized to “no intervention,” the actual study design involved everyone receiving different intensities of an intervention. Rather than peer-reviewed publication as the sole end-point, public housing policy was changed, heating systems were retrofitted and other capital improvements were made, illegal toxic pesticides were identified for programmatic focus and indoor air quality was improved. In the initial proposal, “The universities were ‘right on’ with the problem but not the approach,” she noted. “The quality of the response is more robust when it’s a CBPR approach.” The partnership was transformative for all involved. The principal investigator, for example, remarked that “I will not go back to doing research the other way.”
Source: Seifer SD. (October 2005). Message from our Executive Director. In: Partnership Matters Newsletter, Vol. VII No. 20. Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.
6. Stay on top of CBPR funding opportunities
There are a number of ways to keep abreast of CBPR funding opportunities. We recommend the following resources:
Join the CBPR listserv co-sponsored by CCPH and the Wellesley Institute at https://mailman1.u.washington.edu/mailman/listinfo/cbpr
Scan federal funding announcements that are posted daily at www.grants.gov. On the site, you can also register to receive email notification of grant opportunities based on your identified interests.
Review the new funding opportunities in the CCPH Partnership Matters newsletter (CCPH members receive it directly by email every other Friday) at http://depts.washington.edu/ccph/guide.html#PartMatters
Scan the funding directory prepared for the 2004 Community-Based Collaborative Research Conference sponsored by the Northwest Health Foundation at http://depts.washington.edu/ccph/pdf_files/directory-062704f.pdf. The guide contains both federal and private funding sources listed with detailed information on each funding opportunity and previous projects that were funded, where available.