The Fundraising Reality in Vietnam with Dr Thi An Nguyen | Ep 7

Season #1

Today's conversation is with Dr Thi An Nguyen, who is the Vietnam country director for the International NGO Health Bridge, which is headquartered in Canada. 

An was born during the final days of the US war in Vietnam and you'll find out how the legacies of that have influenced her choice of mission and shaped the shifting priorities of nutrition advocacy. 

Today, we'll be talking about the limitations that are faced by international funding organisations working in Vietnam and how to secure funding for nutrition advocacy and finally balance government partnerships. Imagine, for example, having to secure formal government sign off to renew your organisational registration every five years, or for every single new project and event or conference. 

Now, An was reluctant to record this interview because she felt that her English was not good enough. Her words, I strongly disagreed. I let her know that our listeners were willing to listen harder in order to learn the important lessons from people like An who are fundraising beyond the narrow borders of BBC style English. 

This reminds me that English is the dominant language of fundraising and the international charity sector. It's therefore exclusive and a massive barrier for those trying to fundraise, people like An who are qualified doctors and speak multiple languages. Imagine completing a 60 page funding proposal in a language that is your third or fourth. English as the dominant language of fundraising is also a barrier for us. It gets in the way of us learning lessons from other cultures and places as people feel less confident of the value of their experiences and are more reluctant to share their deeply valuable expertise. 

I hope you enjoy meeting An today and it gives you insight into the challenges of securing funding in Vietnam. I'm sure that much of what An shares is relevant to you if you're working in Asia, Africa, the Middle East or Latin America, where government policies can significantly narrow fundraising opportunities and even freedoms. But there are so many things we can all take away from this, whether it's the role of grit and determination in fundraising success and the ability of people like An to find motivation and continue their work even when the odds are so powerfully stacked against them. Or whether it's managing the real life stress of fundraising, sharing the burden of designing and delivering major complex proposals across multiple stakeholder groups. And, of course, the many lessons we can learn from proposals that aren't successful. And the silver lining that is new partnerships and conversations and ideas that are initiated as we explore fundraising opportunities. 


Resources and links mentioned in this episode:


I hope you've enjoyed listening to this episode of the Fundraising Radicals podcast and that this conversation has challenged, informed, and maybe even inspired you and your fundraising leadership practice. 

As always, we're grateful to Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network and Care International who are co-funding the Global Radicals Fundraising Leadership Programme, of which this podcast is just one part as we navigate global fundraising together as a global community.

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