Fundraising for Torture Treatment



Torture treatment programs face unique fundraising challenges and opportunities in these competitive times.  

In this webinar we will hear from two organizations - one a stand-alone program, and one that is embedded within a larger organization - about how torture treatment programs can meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities in the current fundraising climate. 

Topics will include:  what are the tools that can help you develop an effective fundraising program in your organization; what are the advantages and disadvantages of being a program embedded in a larger

Organizational development with torture rehabilitation programs: An applied perspective

Kristi Rendahl, assistant professor & director, Nonprofit Leadership Program, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and organizational development consultant, CVT; and Pamela Kriege Santoso, project manager, Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH) Project, CVT, have an article published in the journal Torture, titled “Organizational development with torture rehabilitation programs: An applied perspective.”

Sharing client stories - ethical, professional, and legal considerations

Sharing client stories must be done within a framework of ethical, professional, and legal considerations. While the experience can prove beneficial for some individuals, programs must establish boundaries for interviews and speaking engagements, and empower clients to decline the opportunity if they choose. Some considerations might urge extreme caution:

  • Client welfare
  • Risks of danger to family/friends back home
  • Client capacity to say no 

Some, on the other hand, might lead us to encourage clients to speak:

  • Speaking out as healing, especially within treatment/recovery context (empowering)
  • Staff

Descriptive, inferential, functional outcome data on 9,025 torture survivors in the United States

A paper authored by 23 centers of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs paints a nuanced portrait of 9,025 torture survivors living in the United States many of whom are refugees or asylum seekers. This report documents torture in 125 countries, with findings drawn from the largest collection of data compiled and published about torture survivors across a single country. The report emphasizes the high mental and physical health consequences of torture.

Good stewardship

by Michelle Woster, CVT Individual Giving Officer

Good stewardship – which is defined as thanking, informing and engaging donors so they continually renew their support – is a critical piece of a successful development program.  Best stewardship practices are easy to implement, but are often overlooked or undervalued.  Here are three simple strategies for assuring donors that their decision to fund your organization was a smart one:

  1. Timely gift acknowledgments.  Have efficient, consistent procedures in place for processing donations and thanking donors.

Proposal writing

by Anne Maertz, CVT Manager of Institutional Relations
Through good research, you’ve found a funder whose interests match the work of your organization. You invited them to visit your program, they liked what they saw, and they’ve invited a proposal.  That’s great!  
There are many different proposal formats.  The two most common are: 1) a cover letter and narrative; and 2) an online form.  Briefly, the key elements of most general operating proposals are:
  • Organizational background (mission, history, programs, accomplishments and awards)
  • Needs statement (not your organization’s needs: torture

Relationship Building

by Anne Maertz, CVT Manager of Institutional Relations

There is an old saying in fundraising, “people give to people.”  Of course, a foundation will want to know that your organization’s programs are effective and your finances are in good shape.  However, if you can meet face to face with funder representatives and—even better—if you can introduce them to individuals who have been helped by your organization, those interactions will reinforce the case for support you have presented on paper.  It can be intimidating to pick up the phone or send an email to a foundation contact.

Managing and Prioritizing

by Anne Maertz, CVT Manager of Institutional Relations

Let’s say your initial research uncovered 25 foundation prospects, and you also learned about 3 local and state government calls for proposals.  How do you keep track of them all?  Depending on your needs and budget, you could use a Word document, a spreadsheet, a free online data base like CiviCRM,or a sophisticated, expensive program like the Raiser’s Edge.  There are lots of user groups in LinkedIn where you can get advice of the pros and cons of each.  Now, which ones should you approach first?

Researching Foundations

by Anne Maertz, CVT Manager of Institutional Relations

The first step to raising funds from foundations is to research them.  Look for foundations that have an interest in your organization’s type of work.  Try using the Foundation Center’s keyword search website.  Try terms like “mental health” or “refugees.”  Then check out any that are in your geographic area.  Also, review funder lists in the annual reports of organizations that carry out similar work.  Most foundations will expand their support to additional organizations if they really care about a cause.

Targeted Case Management

Background:  In 2010, CVT launched an effort to expand billing income, and in particular to fund services provided by social workers/case managers, and explored the possibility of securing contracts for Adult Mental Health Targeted Case Management.  Targeted Case Management (TCM) is a federal program that aims to help people with serious mental health problems stay out of the hospital and function independently.

Reaching Younger Donors

For financial sustainability, it's important that your organization cultivate a broad base of donors, including younger people, who will donate more as they grow older. How can you reach these younger donors?

As volunteers

Many younger people may not have the means to give (much) now, but you can involve them as volunteers as a first step. Consider your organization's cause, and identify college/university or young professional groups with an interest in your work.

Closing a Non-Profit Organization

When an organization does not get renewed funding from a major funder - ORR  or another source - this will often cause dramatic changes in their program activities and possibly a need to make difficult transitions. There is, of course, not a lot that NCB can offer to assist these in these transitions, but we do extend our sincere sympathy to these programs and offer whatever support and assistance is possible. 

Transition checklist

To start with,  we are sure that each organization is getting  professional advice that is appropriate to their specific situations, but here are a few things that

Sustainable Fundraising

In 2010 the National Capacity Building Project of the Center for Victims of Torture hosted an Institute on the subject of "Creating Financial Sustainability in Programs Serving Torture Survivors ". Lori Jacobwith's dynamic session on Sustainable Fundraising was recorded, and is available to you here in six parts. You can use the menu at right to navigate through the six sections:

Part 1: Introduction

Objectives of the session; discussion of fundraising challenges; importance of communication; practice of clarity in communication; three-sentence introductions, value statement "We are (who?) and


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