Identifying Funders to Approach

After you have developed your fundraising strategy, this section is designed to help you identify which funders to approach. It outlines the types of funders, the common ways to identify donors, and a list of suggested resources and funders to help you get started. A Funder Evaluation Worksheet is also available for download to help you determine whether you are a good fit with the funder. Note that this section focuses on institutional funders and not individual donors or securing in-kind support, although many best practices in foundation cultivation can also be applied to individual donors.

As refugee rights empowerment is an emerging field, very few funders have identified this as a priority area. Given that the primary approach to refugee assistance is still humanitarian aid (handouts of food, medical aid and tents), you will need to broaden your target donors and work hard to explain why your work is relevant. This may include human rights funders, women’s rights funders, those seeking “a long-term solution to refugees”, and others working with vulnerable populations. Also consider engaging funders working with survivors of torture, LGBTI funders, and those seeking to advance democratic inclusiveness and civil society growth.

Types of Funders:

  • Government funders or funds available through foreign embassies
  • Private foundations (family and institutional)
  • Corporate funders
    • From experience, Asylum Access has had success raising funds through law firms, but found it challenging to engage private businesses that usually prefer ‘safe’ causes like poverty alleviation to potentially controversial causes
  • Individual donors

Common ways to identify donors:

  • Find out who funds similar organizations. This helps you to focus on funders who have a track record of common interests. This information can often be found on their official website, Annual Reports or 990 tax forms (for US foundations).
  • Sign up for mailing lists with updates of upcoming call for grants (see below for list).
  • Let your network of friends and colleagues know that you are looking for funds, so they can share opportunities with you.
  • Research online funder platforms to learn about funders and the fundraising landscape (see below for list).
  • Ask for help, but only after you have done your own research. Request for conversations with fundraising professionals working in the same field. People are often willing to give advice.
  • If you have already established a sound relationship with a funder, ask them if they would be able to recommend other funders.

Below are a list of funders that may guide your research:

Funder Type                    

Example Organizations

Refugee Assistance

IKEA Foundation

Norwegian Refugee Council

Sigrid Rausing Trust

Human Rights: As a new nonprofit, your best bet is seeking funding for Global Human Rights

The Adessium Foundation

Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation

The Moriah Fund

The Norwegian Human Rights Fund


The African Women’s Development Fund

Foundation for a Just Society

Global Fund for Women


Survivors of Torture

UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture



ICCO International

Democracy and Civil Society Growth

Foundation for a Civil Society

Open Society Foundation

Government Funders with Tendencies for Funds via their Embassies



Finland Germany

United States of America


Useful resources:

You may also consider using the Funder Evaluation Worksheet, which is designed to help you determine whether you are a good fit with the funder.