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partnerships:articles:finder1 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +Funding Advice on the Web
 +=========================
 +
 +\
 + by [Jo Habib,​](mailto:​INFO@FUNDERFINDER.ORG.UK)
 +INFO@FUNDERFINDER.ORG.UK\
 +
 +\
 +
 +FunderFinder,​ a small national charity, has produced software for
 +grant-makers since 1991. Jo Habib describes what they considered in
 +going on the Web.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +Funderfinder produces two stand-alone applications,​ distributed on disk
 +and regularly updated, which help voluntary organisations and
 +individuals identify which charitable trusts might give them money for a
 +particular need. Over 1,000 organisations have the '​groups'​ application
 +and about 700 the '​individuals'​ one .\
 +\
 +
 +Our users are mostly local development agencies, small to medium-sized
 +voluntary organisations and local authorities giving advice and
 +information to community and voluntary groups in their area. Some have
 +reasonably powerful kit and good support systems but many have old
 +computers and an ad hoc approach to using and understanding IT. About 40
 +of our users have DOS as their only operating system.
 +
 +FunderFinder itself has had an email address for over a decade but until
 +a couple of years ago we mainly used email amongst ourselves - to send
 +work in progress from programmer to office to manual writer, for
 +instance. Gradually, though, not only did email traffic build up, but
 +people started asking whether we had a website. Members of our Board of
 +Trustees also began to put pressure on us to develop a site.
 +
 +I was fairly resistant to the idea. FunderFinder tries to work with
 +technology people feel comfortable with; we're keen that the technology
 +we use doesn'​t become an end in itself and try and ensure that we don't
 +discriminate against voluntary and community groups with older, more
 +modest technology. Were our target market really going to be clicking
 +their way round the web? And what would they get if they found us? The
 +site would need to be more that a glossy brochure.
 +
 +On the other hand, we were, and are, trying to think how to strengthen
 +the support available to marginalised and isolated voluntary groups -
 +those geographically remote, those that for one reason or another
 +unlikely or unable to take advantage of local training and other
 +'​infrastructural'​ services. Maybe the Internet would be a good medium
 +for reaching them. Maybe we could put bug-fixes or new versions of the
 +program on a web-site - a much cheaper way of reaching our users between
 +updates. Maybe it was worth experimenting at least.
 +
 +Perhaps too we could use a website to deflect enquiries from people who
 +really weren'​t our target market. Our email address was flagged up on
 +someone else's website and we were getting an increasing number of
 +messages from postgraduate students looking for funding to develop their
 +academic careers - not something we could help with on a case-by-case
 +basis. Maybe our website would help make it plain what we couldn'​t do,
 +as well as what we could.
 +
 +So we constructed a site. It's got information about us and our
 +management, which is one way of being accountable. There'​s
 +information,​including screen-shots,​ about the software we produce, and
 +on-line forms for ordering. There'​s quite a lot of information about
 +fundraising,​ in the form of down-loadable '​leaflets';​ some are about how
 +to do it and some about sources of money. We've got links to other
 +sites, including those of charitable trusts and foundations.
 +
 +What hasn't worked at all? We decided to construct a '​forum'​ for
 +threaded discussions and debate about funding issues. We hoped the forum
 +would be a way of people sharing funding information peer-to-peer. We
 +thought it would be great if groups new to fundraising could '​overhear'​
 +more experienced organisations in discussion.
 +
 +We thought it would be great if the metaphor of the web, the spaghetti
 +underlying the links, helped the sector create the kind of networks and
 +connections that include rather than exclude. Although we went to some
 +lengths to start the forum off with snippets of funding information,​ to
 +our great disappointment the only comments posted were of the "Our group
 +needs £25,000; please can somebody give it to us" type. After a few
 +months of this we closed it down.
 +
 +Really we have a website because people expect charity that produces
 +software to have one. We don't have a clear idea who it is expected to
 +befefit from it or how - and even if we did, I'm not sure how we'd
 +evaluate its effectiveness. On the other hand, it's not that
 +time-consuming to maintain, and there seems no reason not to continue
 +with it.
 +
 +[Funderfinder Web site](http://​www.funderfinder.org.uk/​)
 +http://​www.funderfinder.org.uk/​
 +
  
partnerships/articles/finder1.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)