One of the most important issues to consider before starting a clearinghouse is how to ensure its funding. It is worth noting that there are many different approaches to raising revenue and the following chapter will only offer a snapshot of some of them.
Clearinghouses generally operate as NGOs, so the classic non-proﬁt fundraising strategies will apply. Think about obtaining both core funding as well as project-based or episodic funding. Diversify. Consider individual contributions, state and government donors, public charities, as well as private and corporate foundations.
One way to fund a clearinghouse is through mandatory ﬁnancial contributions from partner law ﬁrms, individual lawyers or other organizations. For example, A4ID’s Legal Partners all donate an annual amount that is calculated according to the number of partners in the law ﬁrm or lawyers in the organization.
Another approach to ﬁnancial sustainability is through soliciting charitable contributions and project grants. For example, PILnet receives money from private donors, foundations and governmental entities, which enables it to give lawyers access to pro bono matters without charging a fee.
Be creative. If a clearinghouse is unable to ﬁnd funding related to pro bono directly, it may be able to ﬁnd funding for a target or marginalized group where it can incorporate a pro bono component.
Think broadly. Look for funding opportunities related to “civil services” and “access to justice,” not just pro bono. There is no right way to approach fundraising, but by diversifying, thinking broadly and being creative, a clearinghouse can ﬁnd funding and success for the long term.