Grants, Gifts & Donations

<– Part I: The Revenue is the Model

Mozilla’s new fundraising strategy will see us pursue grants, gifts, and donations in sequence. Projects will launch with grants, focus and grow with gifts, and sustain themselves with donations and earned income.

The strategy is based on key assumptions about each type of funding:

Institutional partnership
Personal commitment
Engaged community
Structured relationship; Contracted deliverables; Funders have to invest in projects;
Funding can address core costs; Support flows from talent, vision, and results; Open communication provides flexible decision-making;
Funding can support all types of cost; Comparatively stable, predictable revenue; Can mobilize a community to action;
Challenges & Risks
Restricted, project-based funding; Additive to scope; Process-driven and closed decision-making;
Have to already be demonstrating success; Donors do not have to fund anything, let alone you; Personal dynamic can introduce complications;
Requires active channels to an existing community; Messaging needs to be simple, clear, and direct; Comparatively costly to maintain;
To launch new projects; To establish relationships with new partners; To build internal capacity;
To grow promising activities; To gain access to expertise; To catalyze a bold, new vision;
To sustain existing activities; To gain stability and independence; To mobilize a community;

Working from this matrix will let us achieve three things:

  1. Have the right fundraising team and message in place at the right time;
  2. Come out on the plus side of the reward/risk and return/investment equations; and
  3. Gain independence and stability over time.

For example, while all forms of funding are rooted in partnership and common cause, they each require a different approach. Grants are joint ventures between institutions, major gifts are sales driven by strong personal relationships, and donations are one-to-many marketing campaigns.

Similarly, they carry different trade-offs. You can start a new project with a grant, but you take on process requirements and additional scope. Major gifts provide breathing room, but trade contracts for personal relationships based on — occasionally dynamic — emotional bonds. Donations provide stability, but require an established brand, significant reach, and timely narrative.

Finally, a mix of funding will achieve the revenue diversity we need to reduce financial risk.

In the next post we’ll look at how we’re going to implement this strategy.

Part III: Extending the Product Metaphor –>


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