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partnerships:articles:finder [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +# Funding Advice on the Web
 +
 +Since 1991 FunderFinder,​ a very small national charity, has produced
 +software for grant-makers. We produce a stand-alone application,​
 +distributed on disk and updated every six months, which helps voluntary
 +organisations identify which charitable trusts might give them money for
 +a particular need. We have about 700 organisations using the program
 +This summer we launched a second application doing the same thing for
 +individuals needing money - again, disk based.\
 +\
 + 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
 +20% of our users have DOS as their only operating system.\
 +\
 + ​FunderFinder itself has had an email address for over a decade but
 +until recently we mainly used email amongst ourselves - to send work in
 +progress from programmer to office to manual writer, for instance. When
 +our Internet service provider offered access to the world wide web via a
 +local phone number we took up the offer and I spent some months
 +'​surfing'​ - very sporadically and mostly as recreation rather than work.
 +During the same period people started asking whether we had a website
 +and members of our Board of Trustees 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 started to construct a site. What's there so far is information
 +about us and our management, which is one way of being accountable.
 +There'​s information,​ including screen-shots,​ about the software we
 +produce, although ordering it up isn't yet seamless. There is 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.\
 +\
 + Still being constructed are two of the more interesting experiments.
 +One is a way of identifying 'a local development agency near you' and
 +the other a '​forum'​ for threaded discussions and debate about funding
 +issues. These are technically a bit more complicated and, like the rest
 +of what's there, embody the tension between what the site looks like and
 +what it does. For us, creating a website was fundamentally hours and
 +hours worrying about shades of yellow.\
 +\
 + ​It'​s too early to know who's really using the site, and how. It's
 +generated requests for more information about our software, though no
 +actual orders. People have said they'​ve seen it. We hope the forum, when
 +it's working, will be a way of people sharing funding information
 +peer-to-peer. It would be great if groups new to fundraising could
 +'​overhear'​ more experienced organisations in discussion. 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.\
 +\
 + I remember all sorts of initiatives,​ at a local regional and national
 +level, to network and share information and skills. The Voluntary Sector
 +Luncheon Club, the Information Officers Group.... sometimes they work,
 +sometimes people share more than a sandwich and a set of gripes. I
 +suspect the factors that influence the success or otherwise of these
 +initiatives - the effort and resources involved in attending, how
 +comfortable people feel when they get there, the style and tone of the
 +discussion, how much new information or how many new contacts people
 +come away with - will be the same factors that will determine how
 +successful an electronic forum is. If we've cast ourselves as hosts, we
 +may need to be much more active than just providing a venue.\
 +\
 + [Jo Habib\
 +](mailto:​INFO@FUNDERFINDER.ORG.UK) [Funderfinder Web site\
 +\
 +](http://​www.funderfinder.org.uk/​) [Back to the Guide to Community
 +Internet](../​pubs/​guide)
  
partnerships/articles/finder.txt ยท Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)