By Marisol Fornoni

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions out there when it comes to grants. It’s incredibly hard for first-timers to get their grant application approved. As competition increases for funding and funding continues being cut, it has become harder to obtain funding for organizations that are piloting new ideas or that have no ‘track record of success’ (as funders like to call it). Funders want to see previous experience and be certain that you have a solid capacity of carrying out a project according to their terms.

If you do not have experience carrying out any projects make sure you do! Run a trial and document everything; the good, the bad and the ugly. If you then decide to apply for funding use this documentation to answer these core questions every funder asks in detail:

  • Which community members and stakeholders will benefit the most from your project?
  • How will you involve participants during the planning and execution phases?
  • How will you measure or evaluate the impact of your project?
  • Do you have a work plan outlining all project steps, timeline, and resources?
  • What experience and/or qualifications does your organization have to carry out this project?
  • If activities continue beyond the term of the grant, how will they be sustained?


La Junta

By Marisol Fornoni

As a fundraiser, most organizations are interested in talking to ‘big money’ guys, including banks and large government grant-making organizations. The assumption is that if these organizations decide to fund your project, you are set for the duration of your program.

By doing this we tend to place all our fundraising efforts into one basket, hoping that if we just get that big grant we’ll be living the non-profit dream. Unfortunately, I often see this go wrong. Competition is high out here and as everyone continues applying to the same small pools of money in Toronto, it’s really time for us to start exploring new ways of fundraising.

Depending on the objectives and activities of your organization, perhaps the Junta system can work for your group.

Juntas are used in Latin America to raise large sums of money, and are often used as a grassroots savings model. My grandmother personally uses it and it works great for our family.

The model is simple. The Junta consists of a group of members, who monthly give a fixed set of money to the Junta. Each month, it is a members turn to collect the money. If a member has an emergency they can also request a collection. Members of the Junta are through this able to access higher rates of capital while operating in caring and trusting communal environments.

Through the Junta process of consultation many local Juntas have been successful in resolving key local issues in their communities, as well as financially contributing to worthy social causes. Take some time to think about how this model can work for you and use this example to creatively brainstorm about the ways you can propel your initiative forward with relying on traditional means of fundraising.

Fundraising and Accountability

By Marisol Fornoni


“Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him”

Mortal Man – Kendrick Lamar


As the resource coordinator for Lost Lyrics, it is my role to acquire new resources and partnerships to make sure our organization can further expand its mission. This includes getting money to keep Lost Lyrics’ current programs running and roll out future ones.

Over the years, fundraising has changed significantly. As community organizing has become more institutionalized through the expected incorporation of non-profits and charitable organizations, the majority of initiatives have become accountable to funders instead of the communities they work in. It is important to ask ourselves if a reliance on this type of funding has impacted or derailed social justice movements.

Fundraising today is a full-time profession, with different branches, strategies and professional associations.  Social media, non-profit technology and branding are now all expected to be part of an organization’s strategic plans. While I am a complete product of these changes, my goal over the next couple of months is explore alternatives to current fundraising practices.

For groups that are making demands outside of the current system and have more radical visions of social change these grassroots fundraising strategies are particularly useful.  By learning more about how noninstitutionalized revolutionary movements and groups engage in fundraising practices I hope to answer the following questions:


  1. How do we engage in fundraising practices that involve the community and become more accountable to the communities we work with?


  1. How do we create cycles of mutual support in fundraising with the communities we work with?



Recommended Reading:

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex Paperback – Mar 1 2009 by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (Editor)