why do we provide long-term funding to CBOs?

Firelight’s funding covers a range of needs that our grantee-partners need to be successful. We also know that producing tangible and measurable results in the social sector takes time so we strive to raise enough long-term funding to support our grantee-partners for up to seven years.

The story of Zambian Firelight CBO grantee-partner Luapula Foundation illustrates the power of these long-term grants:


In 1999, a local Zambian hospital in the Mansa district was unable to treat what they thought was a chronic tuberculosis program. It turned out to be widespread HIV infection that was devastating families and leaving thousands of children orphaned. Founder of Luapula Foundation, Moses Zulu, still remembers his first thought: “What about the children? Who will care for them if their parents are gone?”

Luapula Foundation was born out of the need to support these vulnerable children and orphans, to achieve “a self-sustaining society in which every HIV and AIDS-affected and -infected person is empowered and self-reliant.” To achieve this mission, Luapula began to build on the strengths that already existed within communities and supports children holistically – paying school fees while also providing psychosocial support, knowledge in HIV and AIDS prevention, and skills training to help them prepare for their future. They also worked with families to improve food security and to increase their household income. 

When Luapula Foundation began caring for orphans in 1999, it had a budget of $2,850, gathered together from community donations, family members, and individual savings. In 2003, Firelight provided the Luapula with its first grant in the amount of $5,000 to help broaden the reach of community-based economic support to families. Firelight also helped Luapula with a growth strategy, introduced them to their second donor, and spread the word about their work. Multiple years of Firelight grants and long-term partnership provided the stepping stone and expertise to support these grassroots efforts – Luapula Foundation grew rapidly as a result.

 “We wrote many proposals, but Firelight was the one that gave us a chance. Over the course of our partnership with Firelight, they provided funding and so much more—they helped us plan our growth, introduced us to other donors and spread the word about our work.”  – Moses Zulu, Director and Co-Founder 

With humble beginnings more than 20 years ago, Luapula is now the primary provider of HIV testing and counseling in the entire province, matching and exceeding their ambitious early agenda. At the same time, they have used their years of expertise in HIV to transition to providing complementary health-center based programs in early childhood development. And they are also able to mentor and support other local CBOs in similar efforts.

Today, Luapula Foundation is the Lead Partner – a strong, local mentor organization – for a cluster of Zambian CBOs working to improve early childhood development systems. The foundation is recognized internationally, receives funding directly from USAID, and has a budget in the millions of dollars. As a result, this community-born and community-led organization has reached tens of thousands of children and families, and the foundation is on a path to financial sustainability with strong skills in financial management.

The long-term funding the Firelight provides allows us to “walk a journey” with our partners – providing critical flexible grant funding as well as capacity building support – that allows them to grow into even strong community resources and produce sustainable impact for their communities.

“Firelight created an enabling environment for us to grow into the organization we are today.” – Moses Zulu, Director and Co-Founder