Adaptation Network Fundraising Strategy

By Alexa Brown

Over the past 2 ½ years, the activities of the Network have been supported by a 3 year grant provided by the Government of Flanders. In order to assure future sustainability of the Network, over the past months we have been developing and refining a fundraising strategy to guide our efforts to secure adequate funding for the essential activities of the Network. A fundraising strategy combines self-analysis and an analysis of what’s out there in terms of funding opportunities and potential funders. In our case, this is based on a clear picture of what the Adaptation Network focuses on (and how), in order to identify potential funders and seek alignment with their objectives.

Adaptation Network’s self-analysis

In order to draw out the fields of expertise and predominant themes of the Adaptation Network, we have assessed a range of documents: The Constitution, the website, EMG’s website, the Flanders project proposal, the financial reports of 2015 to present, the Log Frame and activities and the Theory of Change. An Adaptation Network training workshop and the 2017 Adaptation Colloquium “Think Tank” have also helped in clarifying what it is that Adaptation Network does. In our assessment, the 3 major functions/themes of the Adaptation Network are:
• Knowledge exchanges and learning
• Training and capacity development
• Technical support and policy engagements

There are a host of different terms that could have been used to describe major functions of the Network, such as climate services, consultations, advocacy, community engagement or participatory action, adaptation on the ground, enabling vulnerable people, hub of information…. However, the chosen 3 match the same thematic foci as the recent Mid-Term Review done by Penny Price and Alicia Okeyo. Replicating vocabulary allows for synchronicity throughout the organization’s documentation and contributes to building a clear and comprehensive understanding of what and who the Adaptation Network is. This in turn, helps to build a strong fundraising profile.
The strategy is described in a PowerPoint presentation prepared by the author of this article. For a copy of the presentation please email me, Alexa Brown at

Horizon scanning
The next step is to know where to look for funding. Climate finance is a growing space and so it is important to monitor the flow of money, as well as understand the existing development funding arena.
In understanding the variety of funders, a funding database has been created to catalogue all available funds should the Adaptation Network or its members need funding in the future. The database is searchable by the category of organization, the organizational focus, impact footprint and beneficiaries. It is a work in progress. If you would like assistance with your organisation’s fundraising efforts, please call me, Alexa Brown on 083 592 3638, and provide information about your funding requirements.

Global climate finance flows
The global climate finance arena is a dynamic and morphing network of public and private institutions at multilateral and multinational scale all the way to regional scale. There are banks, development agencies (including development banks), public agencies (like the government or parastatal organisations) and private institutions (such as NGOs, philanthropic foundations and private companies) who all contribute to climate financing through various mechanisms (debt facilities, loans, bonds, donations, etc.). There is consensus that climate financing should flow from developed countries to developing countries to assist developing countries in coping with climate change (adaptation) and to start the transition to a low carbon economy where possible. India and China are two examples of developing countries that are scaling up renewable energy projects to meet their ambitious climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement of 2015.

The diagram below shows how money flows between the different institutions, and where it reaches the project implementers. This flow of money is the result of a complicated relationship between potential benefactors, and fund/implementation managers and is dependent on the readiness of the potential beneficiary to receive and utilise funds appropriately. Climate financing is not a simple transaction between one account and the next, and frequently intermediary bodies are set up to receive the funds, manage the funds and distribute the funds. Some national development agencies act as both benefactor and manager, but some development agencies require a separate agency to manage the funds in the host countries, which creates the need for a ‘middle man’ or ‘Accredited Entity’ (in the parlance of the Green Climate Fund). SANBI is the only National Accredited Entity in South Africa, although other Multilateral Accredited Entities exist.

Although this complicated nexus of funders, implementation partners and beneficiaries exists, there are also funds that are more straightforward. Direct access funds allow money to flow from one benefactor to a beneficiary without third party interference or monitoring. This type of funding is usually private financing through banks, private companies, philanthropic foundations and charities.

Defining a strategy
There are a multitude of different approaches to finding funding opportunities, approaching funders through different media and strategically requesting funding from potential partners. The emerging patterns of funding development-oriented organisations show that funders are tightening their regulations relating to who receives funding, and increasingly directing their funding to a single beneficiary for longer periods. This means that relationship building, developing honest and open communication channels and maintaining transparency in activity and budgets is integral to maintaining prolonged funding opportunities.

The Adaptation Network, with guidance from the African Climate and Development Initiative (UCT), has tailored their strategic approach for the next 6 months in the following manner:
The fund-raising strategy for Adaptation Network is a proactive mechanism to help develop and expand the scope of the organization but most importantly to ensure its on-going functioning. The underlying vision to “create a resilient South Africa for all” is achievable by having appropriate funding partners who align with the same principles as Adaptation Network.

My job is to help create and develop that link between the Adaptation Network and potential funder(s). I look forward to the contributions and support of members in taking this work forward.