Welcome to the first of our Funder Dialogue series, where we hear insights directly from funders and observers of the funder landscape.

Nicholas Colloff OBE

Nicholas Colloff OBE has directed the Argidius Foundation since January 2014. He is a senior executive with experience as a founder, a funder and a senior manager. Prior to Argidius he was Director of Strategy and Innovation at Oxfam GB and Regional Director of the global microfinance network Opportunity International in Eastern Europe.

From 2019 to 2022 we worked with African led networks across East and West Africa in an evidence based action research programme. The need to build or rebuild sustainable business models, and to ensure continuous funding presents a challenge across all participants.

We responded to these challenges by initiating The Funder Dialogue Series. The aim is to create an informal environment, a level playing field for discussion, and an opportunity for participating networks to raise questions that they would not normally be able to ask. These conversations have created greater visibility of the funder landscape, insights into positioning and more effective proposal writing, and deepening collaborations between participating networks.

Do join us as we continue this conversation, create more visibility and share the insights through this podcast series.

Our thanks to Nicholas for his contribution and for so generously giving his time. Here are some of the networks questions with answers from Nicholas.

What innovative models have you seen for business development support service providers to cover core costs in their funding proposals?

As a funder, what’s important to you about the structure and governance of an organisation when you are considering funding them?

Are funders interested in covering a network’s core costs, and what about investing in the core infrastructure, innovation and technology as the number of programmes and projects grow? Do funders work together with particular types of networks or organisations?

Some donors want the cooperatives and networks that we support to receive funding directly, rather than going through us as a network. The potential beneficiaries may not have the capacity to navigate the donor relationship. Given the different approaches to funding, how can a network ensure the donor understands the structure of the network and the services it provides for its members?

What can a network of financial institutions do to raise funds when the perception is that financial institutions already have their own funds?

How can a network navigate conversations with funders around matched funding bids where the network cannot, at that moment, match the funds in terms of cash?

How can a network with commercial partners on specific, smaller scale projects and pilots?

Is there anything particular that funders look for in relation to geographical footprint?

How can networks engender trust and gain support and collaboration of funders to fund genuine costs and not go for the lowest bidder?