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Last edited: 5 July 2018      

Funding is one of the most common barriers facing small, medium, and large-scale solar cooking projects in many countries. Although raising funds can be challenging, there are a few steps to take to increase the likelihood of receiving funding support.

When developing and implementing a fundraising initiative, it is important to:

  • Create a focused project with well-defined and specific aims
  • Develop a comprehensive budget which includes all potential costs
  • Frame your ask for funds in a way that your prospective grantors and donors are able to understand and support
  • Partner with individuals and groups with similar goals and complimentary skills/resources

As you are starting, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who do I know who already supports this project?
  2. Who volunteers to help, and is there a way to increase the number of volunteers we use? Studies show that volunteers give more than non-volunteers. Perhaps it’s because they see the value firsthand.
  3. What makes this project unique, important, and interesting? How does it affect people?

Then take steps based on the answers to these questions:

  1. Put yourself in the prospective donor’s shoes. What do they care about? Are their values a good fit for yours? If someone is passionate about bicycling, but not cooking, you may want to seek a different prospective donor.
  2. Ask. Studies show that the most common response to the question, “Why did you donate?” is “because somebody asked me.” Don’t be afraid to ask for the support you need. What’s the worst that can happen? Somebody says no to your project, not to you. Don’t take it personally when people have other causes they support instead of your project. Ask someone else. Keep asking.
  3. Be honest. Provide information that accurately reflects what you did, plan to do, and could do if you had additional funding.

With solar cooking projects specifically, it is critical to determine if solar cooking is feasible in the area where you are planning to implement your project. In addition, personal experience with solar cooking can give you an understanding of the cultural variables to consider as well as the health, economic, and environmental benefits.

For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, refer to the Solar Cookers International's “Field Guide—Spreading Solar Cooking.” This booklet includes information on evaluating potential support for solar cooking in your target area, partnerships, long-term planning, and many other topics related to promoting solar cooking.

News

  • 31 December 2017: The deadline for funding applications to The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation is accepting applications from social enterprises that are between one and three years old, with scalable business models, that work to affect policy, public opinion, and economies. Grantees will receive USD $300,000. Applications are accepted year-round. Apply at: http://www.tfaforms.com/337241
  • February 2015: Nominations sought for Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal - The University of Delaware invites nominations for the medal, which also carries a cash award of $60,000. Applications are due September 17, 2014. The medal will be awarded to an individual who has made significant pioneering contributions in solar energy, wind energy, or other forms of renewable energy as an alternate source of energy through research, development, or economic enterprise. For more information, visit: http://www.energy.udel.edu/boer.html
  • Apply for the SEED Award - The SEED Awards recognize "the most promising, innovative and locally-led start-up social and environmental enterprises in countries with developing and emerging economies. The independent SEED International Jury of experts selects enterprises which have the potential to make real improvements in poverty eradication and environmental sustainability while contributing to a greener economy." Apply by March 31, 2015. Read more...
Kinne Edu tourism Model

Kinne Edu tourism Model

  • July 2014: Susan Kinne of Grupo Fenix and Jagadeeswara Reddy spoke at the recent SCInet Solar Cooking Conference in Sacramento about their success at raising money to support their work by promoting ecotourism.
Soulsource successful

SolSource: Kickstarter Project a Success

  • August 2013: One Earth Designs successfully concluded its Kickstarter campaign to promote the SolSource solar cooker, raising a total of $142,413 out of a goal of $43,000 (331% of the goal) and meeting three stretch goals, with 507 people backing the project. Delivery of the cookers will happen in October 2013. Visit the SolSource Kickstarter page.
  • December 2012: Alternative energy funding groups offer options for technology promoters - The International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA) is welcoming online applications with project summaries for concessional loans worth USD 50 million from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) to facilitate renewable energy projects in developing countries, in the first of seven funding cycles totalling USD 350 million. Renewable energy projects must be government-led or government-guaranteed. Online applications close on 12 January 2013, 17:00 (Abu Dhabi local time). More information... The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is also offering funding possibilities for new businesses. The Alliance’s Spark Fund (Fund) launches its first round of funding with this Request for Proposal (RFP) as part of the strategy to strengthen supply and enhance demand in the cookstove and fuels sector through innovation and tailored entrepreneurial capacity development. Unfortunately the final submission date is January 10, 2013. More information...

Donations

The first step in asking for support through donations is to have a informative, concise, and realistic plan for how you are going to use the funds to develop your program. You must be able to explain clearly and persuasively how your project will help promote solar cookers in your area and the economic, environmental, and/or health benefits that this work can offer.

Once you have developed your program's plan and budget, the next step is to make the ask to potential supporters. Most people are more likely to support a program that they feel a genuine connection to. It is important to clearly illustrate the problem that you are working to solve and how this individual or group's support will help you achieve this.

As you begin to cultivate a base of supporters, it is helpful to keep records of potential supporters, such as someone who attends a solar cooker demonstration, someone working to prevent deforestation, or someone promote public health measures. Creating a database of previous and potential supporters (names, addresses, telephone numbers, and/or e-mail addresses) will allow you to follow-up periodically with them to share news and developments about your program. These follow-up communications are an excellent opportunity to ask your supporters for a gift to support your work.

Once you have developed a base of support and when it feels appropriate, asking your supporters to help share your work with their friends and family can be a great method of broadening your community. By hearing about your program from someone they know and trust, these potential supporters are given a warm introduction to your work and may be more likely to make a gift.

Exploring relationships with larger organizations in your area which have similar interests and goals may present opportunities for support as well. These groups may also have connections with domestic and/or international donation bases that they could possibly connect you with.

Grants

Introduction

Receiving grant funding can be difficult as many individuals and organizations will often apply for a single grant opportunity and they commonly require an extensive application process, including comprehensive project plans and budgets. That being said, grants can provide some of the greatest opportunities for both one-time and ongoing financial support.

The unfortunate reality is that most grant applications received by granting organizations are rejected simply due to the number they they receive. As such, it is important to plan to not rely solely on grant funding for your project, at least initially.

Many granting organizations are more likely to support a project that has already shown some success, either though fundraising or achieving initial project goals.

Here are some guidelines and tips from Grantmakers Without Borders about how to get grants:

  • Many granting organizations will not respond to grant requests made through an unsolicited email.
  • Before seeking a grant, look over the organization's website, grantmaking guidelines, and other related materials to see if there is a fit between their grantmaking priorities and your programs.
  • If your program seems like an appropriate fit, follow the proposal submission instructions outlined by the organization in their grantmaking guidelines.

Components of a grant

The first step to submitting a grant is typically a "letter of inquiry" or "letter of intent" (LOI), which is a short description of the nature of your work and the purpose of the grant request.

Funders Online studied hundreds of foundations to see what types of information is usually required in writing a grant proposal. See their full guide here: Project Proposal Basics. Here is a shorter summary of their report about what is usually needed:

Cover Letter
The cover letter is the first document the funder will read and it is often the basis for either consideration or rejection. The cover letter should state the type of support requested, the goals of the project and how it fits into the guidelines of the funder, the total budget and the names of other funders contributing to the project, if available.

Title Page and Table of Contents
The title page should include the title of your proposal as well as the the names and contact information of the principal investigator(s) (PIs) of your program.

Executive Summary
The executive summary should be a brief (no more than half a page) description of your project, including your plans for your project as well as your goals.

Needs Statement
The needs statement should be a concise and convincing overview of the need(s) your organization wants to address with the project. In this section, you are answering the question "what problem are you trying to solve?".

Goals & Objectives
Goals represent concepts or ideal situations that are not necessarily measurable. Objectives are specific, tangible and measurable outcomes that should be achieved within a specified period of time.

Methodology & Timetable
How & when are the project's objectives going to be achieved? By whom? Be clear, specific, and realistic with regard to the methods, the timetable, and the resources required. Doing so will help lend credibility to your project in the eyes of the reader, which will make them more likely to give your proposal their consideration.

Evaluation
How are you going to measure your success or failure in reaching the stated objectives? In this section, you should provide an outline of the metrics that you will be used to evaluate the program, state who will conduct the evaluation as well as when the evaluation will take place (e.g. halfway point, end of program, etc.), and indicate in what form the evaluation(s) will be (e.g. written report, in-person presentation, etc.).

Budget Summary
The budget summary states the duration of the project and the total project cost, as well as any already available income.

Detailed Budget
There are different ways to structure a budget depending on the type of the project as well as on the funder's requirements. However, almost every budget includes the following standard items: personnel; travel/meetings; equipment; overhead costs such as rent, telephone, postage and accounting services; printing and dissemination of project materials. Always check with the funders for any special requirements before finalizing your budget.

Future Funding Plans
This section should describe the financial resources you will need to continue the project, once the support requested has ended, and how your organization will obtain these resources.

Do not give the funder material to read that the funder says in their guidelines they do not want to receive!

Grant seeking

There are many different people and organizations that give grants—each with their own priorities. As previously stated, you should look for grant opportunities which are offered by individuals and organizations whose areas of interests are aligned with your own as well as with the goals of your program.

It can sometimes be the case that grantors give preference to individuals or organizations that they have either previously worked with or to proposals which use tools and methods that they are familiar with. This can make it difficult for those in the solar cooking field as solar cooking accounts for a relatively small percentage of global cookstove programs. As such, the technology is not as well known among grant-giving organizations as other clean and efficient cooking technologies. This should not deter you though from submitting a proposal to a grantor that you do not have a prior relationship with or who may not currently be familiar with solar cooking.

If you are able to find other organizations in your area who are willing to endorse you that have connections with grantors, or if you can receive letters of support from and well-respected and/or prominent individuals or groups, your grant may have a better chance of being funded.

Explain to the granting-organization:

  1. Why solar cooking is deserving of their support. Outline the strengths and positive benefits of solar cooking in a clear manner and support your statements with evidence.
  2. How your proposal to implement a solar cooking program will lead to positive outcomes. Clearly describe your plan and why it will succeed.
  3. Why you are the the best individual or group to implement this project. Include any skills and/or experience that you have which will lead to a successful project. It is important to convey that you have the the stability to carry the project through to completion and fulfill the agreements that you enter into with the grantor.

Convincing a granting-organziation that your program is worthy of their support can be greatly affected by your reputation and previous successes. Most organizations take several years to grow to the point where they have the expertise necessary to receive even a small grant. Some smaller/pilot projects funded locally and/or through donations can help give you the experience, skills, and reputation that you need to receive larger grant funding in the future.

Possible funding sources

Both Ends

An organization in the Netherlands called Both Ends which describes the organization themselves as being helpful to development groups from developing countries. Their website includes a section called "Services and Resources" which contains fundraising resources. Their website also indicates that they can provide advice to groups through other channels besides through multiple means of communication.

Both Ends
Keizersgracht 45
1018 VC Amsterdam
Netherlands

Telephone: 31-20-623 0823
Fax: 31-20-620-8049

Email: info@bothends.org
Web: http://www.bothends.org/en/

They also offer fact sheets on various environmental issues and contacts and on fundraising.

Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)

Charities use a wealth of exciting materials and media to build relationships with their audiences and to raise the funds needed for their work.

Today, those methods include electronic media from CDs to email and the Internet. CAF has been working since 1995 to help charities to understand and seize the opportunities that new media can present in a manner which complements their more traditional fundraising.

CAF's own fundraising schemes bring charities and donors together in order to encourage regular communication and committed financial support using tax-effective giving. In the UK, over 200,000 employees help charities through their payroll, with the first international pilot commencing this year in India. On the Internet, literally thousands of charities can now benefit from a secure online gift.

So how can we help?

  • You can fundraise in print and online easily and effectively
  • You can access a wide range of donors offering regular gifts at a high conversion
  • You can build lasting relationships with individuals and access corporate networking

CAF has been helping to increase the financial health of charities across the world for over 75 years. By combining an intimate knowledge of the voluntary sector with extensive financial expertise, CAF provides an unusually diverse range of services. Today we manage more than UK £1.4 billion on behalf of charities in over 20 countries. Whether you are a large international non-governmental organization or a local community project, CAF can help you give your voluntary income a significant boost.” Contact Info:

Kings Hill
West Malling
Kent ME19 4TA

Tel: +44 (0)1732 520000
Fax: +44 (0)1732 520001

Web: http://www.cafonline.org/
Email: enquiries@CAFonline.org

European Grants Index

Published by European Foundation Center this index lists over 1,750 grants and programmes supported by 78 foundations and corporate funders active in Europe. Grant listings are arranged alphabetically by funder, and indexes are provided by funder country and recipient country, as well as by grant subject focus, population focus, geographic focus and type of support awarded. Also includes a statistical analysis of this data.

Internet site for European Foundation Center:

Brussels office:
European Foundation Centre
51 rue de la Concorde
Brussels
Belgium

Tel.: +32.2.512.8938
Fax: +32.2.512.3265

Web: http://www.efc.be/

Fondation Ensemble

Fondation Ensemble is interested in many of the issues that solar cooking addresses. Their focus appears to be a good match for many solar cooker groups. One difficult part of Fondation Ensemble's guidelines may be that the country where the project will be implemented must be relatively free of corruption. They are involved in these countries: Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, China, France, India, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marocco, Peru, Romania, Senegal, and Ukraine.

Email: info@fondationensemble.org Web: http://www.fondationensemble.org/index.php/en

The Foundation Center

The Foundation Center
79 Fifth Avenue/16th Street
New York, NY 10003-3076

Tel: (212) 620-4230 or (800) 424-9836
Fax: (212) 807-3677

Web: http://fdncenter.org/

Many on-line resources. Publishes directories of foundations.

GEF Small Grants Programme

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

See Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

The Global Work-Ethic Fund

1521-16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
USA

Tel 202-232-1600
Fax 202-318-0876

Web: http://globalfund.org
Email: info@globalfund.org

Vibrant and dedicated civil societies are strengthening democracy in developing and transition countries. But, to prosper in the long run, civil society--including what the US calls non-profits, NGOs, etc.--needs a huge increase in local financial contributions. There are two sides to the coin of solidarity. On the one hand, potential donors should rise to a new level of generosity, collaborating with the many groups trying to improve their societies. In most of these countries, people have traditionally channeled their generosity to their family and business circles. On the other hand, civil society organizations need to show that they are worthy of support. In particular, they need to be thoughtful and professional in the way they raise funds. The Global Work-Ethic Fund specializes in this aspect of solidarity, by offering training on how to diversify sources of income--which leads to financial self-sufficiency--and by offering hands-on advisory services for financial campaigns and projects.

Promoting solidarity within a country, and professionalizing fund development within an organization, we strengthen the work-ethic, the sense that individuals and groups should look first to themselves to solve their own problems, doing their jobs with attention to detail, persistence, and ambition. The work-ethic rests on two points of honor:

  • Self-sufficiency: people try to solve their own problems.
  • Solidarity: everyone pitches in to solve common problems and help the needy.”

They publish and sell:

Más Dinero Para Su Causa

Más Dinero Para Su Causa (More Money For Your Cause) is a book on fundraising and philanthropy in Spanish particularly for the Latin American CSO. Written by Daniel Kelley, a veteran international fund raiser, the book opens the door to contributions from individuals, companies, foundations and governments. This 187 page handbook guides civil society organizations along the path to local and international money while addressing the “whys” and the “hows” of the business: planning a fund raising strategy, working with an effective Board of Directors, organizing campaigns, writing proposals and budgets, and thinking like your donors as you do so.

Kelley presents a sound understanding of Latin American realities, a business-like point of view, a logical presentation, clear prose, incisive commentaries and a sense of humor. A sequel to the 1995 best-selling book, Dinero Para Su Causa, Más Dinero is twice as big as its predecessor, and has up to date information on corporate sponsorships and the Internet.

Grantmakers Without Borders

PO Box 18182
Boston, MA 02118 USA
Phone 617.794.2253 Fax 617.266.0497

Web: http://www.internationaldonors.org/index.htm

This is a useful site, especially the “Advice for Grantseekers” page.

The Grantsmanship Center

The Grantsmanship Center
P.O. Box 17220
Los Angeles, CA 90017
USA

Telephone: 213-482-9860

Web: http://www.tgci.com/

Kickstarter

  • Soulsource successful

    SolSource: Kickstarter Project a Success

    August 2013:
    One Earth Designs successfully concluded its Kickstarter campaign to promote the SolSource solar cooker, raising a total of $142,413 out of a goal of $43,000 (331% of the goal) and meeting three stretch goals, with 507 people backing the project. Delivery of the cookers will happen in October 2013. Visit the SolSource Kickstarter page.

Kiva.org

Kiva matches individuals in poor countries with individuals in richer countries who are willing to loan them money.

The Resource Alliance

It is the publisher of The Worldwide Grantmakers Handbook. It describes itself as: “…an international network working to build the fundraising and resource mobilization capacity of the voluntary sector, non-governmental and community based organizations. We are passionate in our commitment to help organizations to effectively mobilize support for their causes. We achieve this through training, knowledge sharing and networking activities in Africa, Asia, Pacific, Europe, South Asia and Latin America. The Resource Alliance does not operate as a donor agency and therefore cannot address individual requests for delegate sponsorship.” Contact Information:

Head Office—London
295 Kennington Road
London SE11 4QE
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 207 587 0287
Fax: +44 (0) 207 582 4335

Web: http://www.resource-alliance.org/
Email: contact@resource-alliance.org

East & Southern Africa Regional Office
Ms. Wangui Kibe, Programme Officer
Resource Alliance Representative
P.O. Box 4932
Nairobi 00200
Kenya

Tel: 254-20 4450656

Email: wanqui@resources-alliance.org

Rotary International

Rotary International has provided funds to solar cooker projects in the past. To receive Rotary funding, you have to find a Rotary Club in your area that is interested in supporting a solar cooker project. Ensure that the Rotary Club has significant interest in your project and agrees with you about the basic approaches to carrying out the project. It must be very interested, because to get grants from Rotary International, your local Rotary Club will have to do a lot of work and may have to provide some funds itself. If you find a Rotary Club that is willing to work on this, they should contact Rotary International to find out the procedure for getting grants. Usually, Rotary International prefers to fund projects where a Rotary Club in a developing country is also getting funds from a Rotary Club or District in a developed country.

US National Council for Science and the Environment

Supporters and Funders of the US National Council for Science and the Environment may include some foundations that would be of interest to you. Visit their website and look at the list of their supporters and funders: https://www.ncseglobal.org

Creating a self-sustaining program

“A solar cooker costs more to build than it could be sold for or a solar cooker costs more to build than would be saved by not having to purchase fuel.”

If this statement is true for your area, then a solar cooking project may struggle to succeed.

If the statement is not true, then consider ways to leverage part of the profits or financial savings, respectively, to help fund your project:

  • One of the simplest ways to do this is to make cookers and sell them for more than they cost you to build. Even if your goal is to provide cookers at no cost to disadvantaged communities (which presents its own challenges, as it may present the notion to the recipients that the cookers do not have high value), cookers sold at a profit to people who can afford to pay will provide you with the resources to support those disadvantaged communities.
  • Consider charging a small fee for solar cooking lessons for those who can afford such a service. Remember, people who learn to use their solar cookers well will also be likely to buy additional cookers in the future and tell their friends—so it is good for your business to make sure people learn to use the cookers well.
  • Sell cooker and the first bag through a payment plan (a small deposit and an agreement to make regular payments until the balance is paid in full). Customers payments can be based on a percentage of their expected savings from using the cookers.

Another way of making money with solar cookers is to sell food made using them. Because the fuel is free, profits from solar restaurants and bakeries can be higher than traditional culinary businesses.

As you begin to plan your project, research in your area:

  • The costs to build your desired type of solar cooker
  • How much a family spends on to purchase cooking fuel
  • How much a family can save in 6-12 months by using a solar cooker on most sunny days.

This information will help you plan and successfully implement your project.

Although these ideas may take time to successfully implement, they offer a great way to get started. In time, your project may grow as solar cooking becomes better known and popular in your area. The experience working with a growing group of users of solar cookers will give you the experience which will help you make your project more attractive to potential individual supporters or to foundations that may consider supporting your program through grant funding.

Audio and video

  • January 2017:
Rocio Maldonado - Financing a Solar Cookers Project in the Andes

Rocio Maldonado - Financing a Solar Cookers Project in the Andes

  • July 2014:
McArdle Factors that give funders confidence

McArdle Factors that give funders confidence

Documents

See also

External links