C3. Be clear about your resources and be ready to raise funds
A CSO may have limited financial capacities and restricted staff. Research projects can be highly time-consuming and require staff dedicated to the project for management, data collection (interviews, surveys, action-research etc.), drafting and reviewing reports and articles, dissemination, financial management (expenses follow-up, financial reporting, etc.) and so on. Available resources and funding possibilities have to be discussed thoroughly with the potential research partners, and where possible, funders.
If a CSO wishes to develop its research activities, it should consider fundraising specifically for this purpose. Some CSOs are very successful in this type of activity that helps to use funding for diversification of the organisation’s activities. This way, the organisation can steer research in the desired direction and demonstrate leadership that will benefit the goals the organisation pursues.
The following questions could guide CSO leaders in their decision-making:
What are the financial resources that we can allocate to research & innovation activities?
What are the staff resources that we can dedicate to research?
Can we launch a fundraising campaign to launch research ourselves?
Can we raise funds to co-finance research?
Example: CSO funding as the starting point for research
An organisation of parents of people suffering from a particular genetically inherited condition managed to attract funding to then successfully bid for national research funding. There were several CSOs involved in this research project, all of them co-funding the research. The leading CSO had created a foundation specifically with the task of funding research; it then put together the proposal which secured the national funding contribution. By providing significant initial funding, the CSO had substantial power to shape the research to secure benefits for its cause.
'I think patient organisations could really do this more […] It is a model that I see really works because you are the one who started it, who gave the seed money […]'.