Snapshots from Jakarta: Lessons in Effective Fundraising in Asia 2018

Asia fundraising group shot

Nineteen participants from 13 countries from around Asia gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia, from February 7-9, 2018, to participate in Atlas Network’s Lessons in Effective Fundraising in Asia. This course is part of Atlas Network’s robust coaching and training programs under Atlas Network’s Leadership Academy.

The training included intensive sessions on various fundraising strategies with industry thought leaders in the region including Parth Shah (Centre for Civil Society, India), Ali Salman (Policy Research Institute of Market Economy, Pakistan), D. Dhanuraj (Centre for Public Policy Research, India), Wan Saiful Wan Jan (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Malaysia), Linda Whetstone (Atlas Network, USA), Rainer Heufers (Center for Indonesian Policy Studies, Indonesia), Baishali Bomjan (Centre for Civil Society, India), Tom Palmer (Atlas Network, USA), and Moritz Kleine-Brockhoff (Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Germany).

Sessions included prospect research and cultivation, building the right network, a dinner with donors, feedback on actual proposals the attendees submitted ahead of the training from representatives of foundations, and a team-based simulation of donor meetings with program coaches Bomjan, Dhanuraj, Kleine-Brockhoff, Palmer, Sitoula, and Whetstone. The training was led by independent facilitator Manali Shah.

The participants simulated a series of situations involving the many aspects of the fundraising process, donor communication, stewardship, and strategy. One such activity broke up participants into 6 teams, where they pitched projects to simulated donors who would give up to a certain amount. After hearing each proposal, the judges then decided what percentage of the teams’ “asks” would be given and why.

Three individuals coming from historically underrepresented countries when it comes to classical liberalism – Afghanistan, China, and Sri Lanka – discussed what they found especially compelling about the training:

Ravi Ratnasabapathy, Resident Fellow and Co-Founder of Advocata Institute (Sri Lanka)

“One particularly insightful comment for me came from Rainer [Heufers], who said when you go to meet with a donor, go with a definite plan,” said Ravi Ratnasabapathy, resident fellow and co-founder of Advocata Institute in Sri Lanka. “Another point of his was to co-publish papers with prominent academics in your country to help build the credibility of your organization. Tom [Palmer] also provided several useful and applicable lessons in interacting with donors and the subtleties of making ‘asks.’”

Ravi Ratnasabapathy (right) speaks with program coach Robin Sitoula (left), founder and executive director of Samriddhi Foundation (Nepal).

“Other methodologies examined were ‘product and project’ models, like the audio-visual digital media production company, Onion Films Nepal, that is operated by another attendee of the training,” continued Ratnasabapathy. “I think partnerships with event and video production wings like the ones we learned about may be worth exploring to replicate in Colombo [Sri Lanka]. I have learned about a handful of excellent projects from the other attendees, and I believe there may be real value in pursuing replicating some of them.”

Ratnasabapathy has been a recurring guest on Sri Lankan television providing expertise on various issues including fiscal, budgetary, and state enterprise issues.

Ravi Ratnasabapathy appears on Face the Nation in January 2018; his TV appearances have helped spur new conversations on certain policies in Sri Lanka.

“Many important dialogues are now happening in Sri Lanka simply because we started asking questions. With the significant accumulated losses of SriLankan Airlines, everyone had been asking ‘how do we fix this,’ but no one considered the unpalatable thought of closing it down until we introduced it to the discourse!”

Khalid Ramizy, General Director, Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (Afghanistan)

"I have desired for a long time to know more about fundraising for my think tank because we have needed more training and opportunities for enhancing of our knowledge and capacity,” said Khalid Ramizy, general director of Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization. “That is why I am really excited and happy that I am one of the participants of this valuable training of Atlas Network’s Leadership Academy and have learned many important methods that have enhanced my capacity.”

Khalid Ramizy presents the results of his breakout group’s brainstorming session.

“This will hopefully enable me to improve our fundraising and identify potentials donors for my think tank in the future,” Ramizy continued. “Indeed, I am completely sure that I would not have learned what I have in these three days of training from any other training. I am going to bring a lot of changes in the fundraising strategy of my organization, and I will share the valuable knowledge gained from this training to other think tanks in Afghanistan too. This training opened new windows and hopes for our future sustainable works for promotion of libertarian ideas in Afghanistan. I and my all colleagues are really grateful and admire the great work of Atlas Network for strengthening the freedom movement across the world – and especially in Afghanistan, which use more freedom and prosperity than any other countries in the world."

Ma Junjie, Acting Director and Project Researcher, Unirule Institute of Economics (China)

“Unirule Institute of Economics is a dedicated change agent for market economy, rule of law, and liberty in China,” said Ma Junjie, acting director and project researcher at Unirule. “Fundraising is a critical part of bringing about that change. What Atlas Network’s Lessons in Effective Fundraising training offers is an excellent opportunity to reflect on our past efforts and build up our capacity for better fundraising.”

Ma Junjie brainstorms with his breakout group.

As a culmination of the entire training, the attendees participated in an elevator pitch competition at Asia Liberty Forum 2018 showcasing their organizations’ projects, with the audience voting for a winner. The winner of the Elevator Pitch was Ma Junjie.

Ma Junjie delivers his winning Elevator Pitch at Asia Liberty Forum 2018.