Local fundraising example:
Community involvement in school projects

Main characteristics

Fundraising method
Community contribution, Fundraising with individuals, Sales of products

Rural and Urban

Net fin result (€)


Time investment

Sebatamit Elementary School with 1.040 students and 90 young children in a pre-school programme
The whole community is present at the launch of Gimjabet High School
Teacher capacity development programme
OrganisationFrances G. Cosco Foundation (FGCF) - Education for Change
SuitabilitySlightly experienced
Funding needed forSchool projects proposed by communities
Period of actionOngoing
In-kind donations raisedDonated items are sold and made part of the community contribution
Types of donationsIndividual cash contributions from villagers (harvest season is the best time) and the diaspora; skins of sheep and goats killed for religious holidays (to be sold); auctions during religious or social events; donations by churches and mosques
Types of donorsIndividuals, government and non-government agencies, Bahir Dar University, churches and mosques


In the Amhara National Regional State (ANRS), over 80% of the physical facilities of schools are reportedly below standard, not suitable for children to learn comfortably. Moreover they lack books other than text, science kits and other materials that can provide children with hands-on learning opportunities. Knowing that education is key for their children to escape poverty, parents are willing to contribute an amount compromising their other needs. They have to because the educational departments only have a small budget for teachers' salaries and other running costs.
FGCF is very successful in community fundraising and also manages to convince other stakeholders to get involved and contribute, either financially or with in-kind donations.

Tips and lessons learned

FGCF feels that key to their success as a young (started in 2015) and international (Canadian) NGO in raising unto 70% of the costs of projects from within the country are:
a) they only do school projects proposed by the community;
b) they follow a transparent and participatory process which helps earn the trust from communities and other partners to manage their cash contributions;
c) they are not shy to ask government or non-government agencies to contribute in cash or in-kind without any material return;
d) they are careful to not bring resources which are available within the community; they travel to the site repeatedly and assess available resources prior to agreeing on cost sharing;
e) they earned a reputation for not paying per diems but using whatever they raise for projects.

Review by Wilde Ganzen Foundation

All FGCF projects include construction of classroom blocks, latrines, a library, administrative and science laboratory blocks, as well as provision of furniture and library books. Part of the project budget also goes towards: training workshops for all teachers and administrators; sanitation and hygiene workshops for students and teachers; provision of access to clean water; playing fields, with basic sports equipment; and a greening and gardening programme. FGCF does not just build schools and run. Rather, as much as possible, they establish long-term relationships with the schools and communities until the envisaged changes happen and local capacities are strengthened such that the benefits of the project can continue long after the end of the project.
This comprehensive approach is one of the strongest points of FGCF's programme in Ethiopia. No wonder that so many organisations are eager to embark on their 'Education for Change' projects. FGCF also deserves a compliment for their written multi-party agreements, in which the responsibilities and contributions of each party are recorded.
And although we have termed this an action for slightly experienced organisations, please remember that FGCF developed this method of working and fundraising right at the start of their activities, so don't be put off if you are a starting organisation and wish to embark on a similar course.


Short description of the organisation the funds were raised for
Frances G. Cosco Foundation (FGCF) is a Canadian charity based in Edmonton, Alberta. Their mission is to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Ethiopia through quality education. Since it obtained charitable status in May 2015, FGCF has upgraded the physical facilities of two elementary schools (Sebatamit Elementary and Wotet Abay Elementary Schools) and built two new elementary schools (Azena Elementary and Abay Mado Elementary) and a high school in Abichikili. In 2018, three more primary schools are being upgraded and a new high school is being built.
. follows a holistic and community driven approach in its project planning and programming;
. invests in long term outcomes rather than in short term outputs;
. strives to achieve measurable improvements in communities where they undertake projects;
. builds on communities’ strengths and resources.

Short description of the project or programme the funds were raised for
Funds locally raised have been used and will be used for improving/increasing access to, and quality of, primary and general secondary education. FGCF works with public schools only because
a) they do not charge tuition and serve female and male children irrespective of their family background
b) they lack resources and are faced with multi-faceted problems that negatively impact their ability to provide good quality education for all children.
Many children who strive to get out of poverty through education are not achieving their dreams because of the poor quality of education in almost all public schools. As one educator said, the practice in these public schools is “teach the best and shoot the rest.”
The funds are used for achieving the following key results:
1. Upgrading existing physical facilities/building new schools: demolishing all falling and hard to use physical facilities and replacing them by new cement, well lighted and ventilated rooms and furnishing them all.
2. Improving quality of learning by providing library books, science kits and digital contents in different formats, equipment and materials for after school activities and training on running book clubs and other co-curricular activities.
3. Improving quality of teaching and instructional leadership through training on best teaching practices, classroom follow up and personalised support for 3-5 years, as well as exposure visits.
4. Improving access to water and latrines and practices of personal hygiene and environmental sanitation.
5. Converting school open spaces into green hands-on outdoor learning environments, environmental learning centers and sources of sustainable income for the school and children whose parents could not buy them uniforms and learning materials.
Apart from cash, FGCF also solicits a lot of in kind support. A few examples:
. they get tree seedlings and expertise from the Bahir Dar University and the district agricultural office;
. the district health offices help to identify sites for construction of latrines and train students in personal hygiene and sanitation;
. the community and students take care of the tree planting and protecting work at no cost to the project;
. FGCF works in the ANRS of Ethiopia and has a furnished office provided by the regional education bureau with zero rent.

Targeted donors
Members of the community, government and non-government agencies, churches and mosques. Bahir Dar University and local governments also make cash in in-kind contributions to the projects within their jurisdictions.


Cost/benefitNational currency (Birr)Euro
Total amount raised00
(-) Total amount invested00
Net amount raised00

Accounting details

School Project duration Total cost in Euros Locally raised (%)
Sebatamit Primary School 2015-2019 136.401 62
Azena Primary School 2016-2020 136.401 30
Abichikili High School 2016-2020 210.486 48
Wotet Abay Elementary School 2017-2021 165.448 30
Birr Adama Elementary School 2017-2021 184.156 70
Firin Primary School 2018-2022 154.093 70
Addis Amaba Primary School 2018-2022 276.526 84
Gimjabet High School 2018-2022 219.941 65,5

Result comments
The funds are raised by the communities themselves. Usually, each community elects a committee (commonly 5-9 members) and it is this committee that:
a) leads the fundraising effort and secures the community contribution;
b) involves the larger community in shortlisting and selecting contractors and suppliers along with representatives of the local education office, FGCF and other partners;
c) closely monitors construction and other activities of the project and ensures that activities are carried out on time, on budget and per the desired quality together with FGCF and other local partners.

Description of preparatory work
1. Investigate the proposal of the community.
2. Bring together possible project partners.
3. Discuss project plan, responsibilities and cost sharing.
4. Record agreements in a multi-party contract.

Description of implementation
1. Communities and other local partners raise their share of the project budget. 
2. The agreed amounts should be deposited into FGCF’s Ethiopia account prior to starting the project. This approach enables FGCF to go to implementation after securing 100% of the estimated cost of the multi-year project and it enhances broader community participation and a true sense of ownership as well as creating synergy among multiple actors.

Plans to repeat the action
FGCF will continue to build and rehabilitate schools, using the same holistic, bottom-up and participatory approach to funding and project implementation.

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