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International donor marketing

It is your habit and strength as a development organization or socially responsive company to know your target group inside out. You make your organization or company as attractive as possible to your target group, accommodating their wishes, aspirations and possibilities. This is what is commonly known as "marketing". It is well known territory for you, most likely, as you know the representatives of your target group personally, you know what moves them and what they pay attention to. You know your target group and they know you. 

overheidsmarketing-1With international donors this is often different. The relations with international civil servants and grant officers are, if we like it or not, always clouded by a mist of impersonality. They are often a bit distant and formal. They may even have a attitude of distrust, as they have suffered a lot of compliance issues, project failure and lack of accountability in other grantees of contractors. Obviously, this differs from one donor to another, and from one sector to another. Civil servants and donors dispay a great variety in how they relate to organizations and companies like yours.

There is also a lot of variety in the preferances on how projects should be conceived, run and accounted for. There is even a lot of diversity on what "success" is consired to be - in terms of development. 

Donors and civil servants work quite differently from enterpreneurs: they are by nature risk averse. That is why their calls for proposals, tenders and contracts are written to maximally cover them against possible hiccups and conflicts. Donora like to be sure of the project's impact, at least costs, with maximum social acceptance and minimal complications.

As a bidding party you do take a risk and you hope to receive a reasonable reward for that - so that your operational existance is not jeopardised during the project. The way you work with your target group is geared at helping each other out and, to the degree possible, anticipate and deal with inevitable risk factors.

So there is a substantial differance with donors, and calls and tenders are an expression of that. Donors are not allowed to assume risks, as they deal with tax payers' money, and enforce strict procedures, guarantees, quality standards and legal conditions. This may come across as excessive legally-inspired behaviour - and may cause you as the grantee or contractor to feel that you are only allowed to execute projects under unilaterally-imposed and rather sharp conditions, and that in case of any inevitable deviation that may occur in practice, you may end up being accused of lack of compliance.

For some organizations and especially companies it may therefore not be extremely attractive to strive for international donor grants or contracts. However, there are a couple of good reasons to do it anyway and accept it that you may have to make some strategic and operational changes within your organization or company. For quite a lot of us there is really no alternative, anyway. The choice is not being in or out, but being in and being in control, or being unable to get in and losing control.

overheidsmarketing-2Tenders2Go support organizations and companies in dealing with these matters. We can help you to define your fundraising strategy and come to a good public sector marketing and account management practice. The challenge is to see the donors as a workable and satisfied customer: just like your target group.

We have experience in a wide variety of sectors and countries and have dealt with donors, governments, development organizations and socially responsive companies. Thanks to this, we are a sparring partner for you, in your transition from your present marketing en sales mix to a one with a more prominent importance of the international donors. We are there for you to face the relation management challenge that comes with that.

We can do so in many ways. For instance, we can stage brainstorm and sounding board sessions with the executives, train and coach the middle managers and even stage interactive workshops with middle mangers from other organizations or companies. Sometimes we are also literally asked to write the fundraising strategy or coach the internal working groups that are tasked with elaborating the fundraising strategy - and often the corresponding strategic planning.

Donor relation management should start already way before the call or tender comes out. It is an activity that the more successful bidders spend a lot of time on. That is why they are well informed, know a lot of backgrounds, have insights into the real demands and criteria, and know what the real allergies are. On top of that, it allows them to shoot only at the calls and tenders that they really stand a chance at. They also have more time to adapt to the donors' wishes and have their staff follow suit. If your organization or company is good at international donor marketing, you have already won at least a quarter of the battle.