Domestic violence prevention presents exciting opportunities and new puzzles for funders and fundraisers alike. In the nonprofit sector, in the public sector, and among private funders, enthusiasm is growing about the promise of innovative new strategies to bring an end to the long-standing social problem of domestic violence. Raising money for prevention means asking people to be a part of groundbreaking work—essentially, inviting them to be leaders and then helping them to feel comfortable with that most uncomfortable aspect of leadership: embracing the unknown.

Key things to communicate when discussing domestic violence prevention with potential funders, or when considering funding for domestic violence prevention:

  • Prevention is not a stand-alone strategy. Effective domestic violence prevention must exist alongside of—not in place of—solid domestic violence intervention services.
  • It is possible to evaluate prevention. Effective prevention efforts set specific, measurable benchmarks to track progress towards long-term goals.
  • Effective prevention efforts rely on community input to understand risk factors, identify protective factors, and determine the best ways to address these factors. This means that when prevention planning is done well, it is an organic process, in which programs do not determine all the outcomes and strategies from the start but leave room to develop them through a considered community process.
  • Research can play a vital role in prevention efforts: determining baseline conditions before the community change efforts, evaluating results of prevention activities, and clarifying which prevention strategies to use in a particular setting.
  • Expectations about numbers should take into account the goals of particular approaches. Primary prevention, for example, seeks to create in-depth change. One-time presentations offered throughout a community may garner a higher number of one-time contacts. However, a more narrow effort that goes deeper, with repeated contacts and a multi-faceted change strategy, can often achieve more. While the initial numbers may be lower, the impact can be greater.
  • Expectations about process indicators should take into account the realities of domestic violence. For example, one indication of the success of a domestic violence prevention program may be reduced calls to a hotline, based on reduced need in the community. However, it is reasonable to expect that the number of hotline calls will actually rise before they fall, as prevention efforts begin to succeed in breaking down the secrecy around domestic violence and encouraging more people to call for help. Prevalence rates, similarly, could be expected to rise before they fall.

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