What do we need to know about a potential donor and how to find the right funding model? (Part II)
In early October, participants in the fifth generation of the “Creative Mentorship” program had the opportunity to follow a workshop on the different ways to fund their cultural projects. Tatjana Nikolić, associate at the UNESCO Department of the University of Arts in Belgrade and member of the Advisory Board of the “Creative Mentorship” Program, Nathan Koeshall, founder and director of Catalyst Balkans and mentor in the current generation, Tijana Jugović, a representative of the main partner of the program, the Embassy of the United States of America in Serbia and Dragana Jevtić, founder and director of the “Creative Mentorship”, shared their knowledge and experience in this field.
As the topic of funding of cultural projects can be interesting to everyone who deals with them, we will share with you highlights, tips and approaches presented in the workshop that you can use in your work.
In this text, we share with you the experiences and advice of Tijana Jugović, as a representative of the institution that allocates funds, and Dragana Jevtić on behalf of the organization that has been growing and developing for years, while discovering the most suitable financing system.
Tijana Jugović shared with us not only the experiences but also the strategy that the Embassy of the United States of America has when it comes to allocating funds for projects – when and how they support them, who and with what type of projects could turn to them for support.
The US Embassy website itself can serve as a good resource for information about the grants they award and the criteria. We can even consult forms, documents, and reports from previous years to prepare your application.
Tijana especially drew our attention to two things that are important to the Embassy, as the body that allocates funds: when we write a project, we should always be guided by our goals and then to find a relation between them and the goals of donors to show its relevance. We should also keep in mind that all donors report their work to someone else at a higher position, and when applying for the projects funded by organizations and institutions outside Serbia, it’s very possible that the person who decides on grants is not familiar with the situation in Serbia, so we should avoid using it as an argument. We should rather focus on a broader image and greater impact and context in order to reinforce our application.
Dragana Jevtić, director and founder of the “Creative Mentorship” program, shared her experience within this organization.
The program was created at the initiative of eleven enthusiasts with a strong desire to spread the idea of mentorship as a way of lifelong learning. Motivated and determined, Dragana and Višnja Kisić founded “Creative Mentorship” and applied for the first grant, ready to make many changes in their environment through education. However – the project did not receive the money, and they were at a crossroads where they had to decide whether to continue trying or to accept this failure as a sign that the idea is not good and worth their time. At first, the unpleasant experience motivated the team to learn, improve and finally – develop the principle of financing from several sources, which will ensure their survival. Now, eight years later, “Creative Mentorship” has an elaborate funding system that Dragana calls a “puzzle” where funds come from different sectors, partners, and sponsors, and all collaborations are close and long-term. Interestingly, the program does not have many sponsors. They change over time, but their number remains the same. As Dragana says: “It is much better to invest time and effort to find a suitable partner who communicates well with the values we carry than to address many people without special selection.” The reason for this is that a smaller number of associates provide us with the opportunity for a closer relationship, regular information, follow-up on our activities in addition to regular, mandatory reporting. By providing two-way communication, we can learn a lot about the needs of our sponsors and harmonize them with what we can provide for them, which further opens other new doors. For example, our donors can refer us to other potential partners and donors which can then lead to the expansion and strengthening of our network and create new opportunities.
By taking the time to think about what the other side needs, without losing sight of our values, we also meet the needs of sponsors and help them develop, and the results of joint work are a reliable and important parameter for our progress.