Accessing Foundation Support for the Caucasus Times

Accessing Foundation Support for the Caucasus Times     Caucasus Times

Client: Orient Medium, Czech-based non-profit online news agency and opinion survey 

Projects-Direct.Net won its first funding for an online newspaper, which supports leading journalists in the Caucasus region of the Russian Federation.
'The Caucasus Times' was granted funding by the Guardian newspaper for a 6-month period.

caucasus bells

"This is exactly the sort of work Projects-Direct.Net can do," says Tim "identify a good project and be the Northern representative of NGOs in the South or East and find funding. Call it talent scouting, or acting as literary agents for NGOs, these guys need support and skills, but on their terms, it's simply not helpful for us to dictate the conditions".
Islam Tekushev, Editor in Chief of the newspaper said: "Tim Williams thoroughly re-wrote our proposals and strengthened them. he approached donors and interested the Guardian in our Caucasus Times 'News Line" service."

"He worked with us to think the proposal writing process through logically, and he widened our thoughts on the development of the project. Most importantly he saved our website. His help came at the moment when I had thrown up my hands in despair," said Islam.


Here's a fuller testimony By Caucasus Times:

Help Arrives When You Give Up

I get out of bed, paying as little attention as possible to my physical appearance, and head to the kitchen, where I turn on the television, the laptop and the electric kettle. Amid this domestic symphony, I examine my schedule for the day, which I planned out, half-consciously, the night before. Once my computer starts up, I skim the headlines, replete with news from Dagestan.

Last night in Makhachkala (Dagestan), a group of rebels was blocked off inside a residential building.

"Naturally, the special operation will last until tomorrow morning. Law enforcement agencies will report another success, and the Russia media will cite the heroes' names, but they will remain silent about the fact that the rebels have already stolen the bodies of the young men they will supposedly find among the ruins."

Having quickly glanced over the headlines, I rush to compose a letter to my correspondent in Dagestan.

"Dear Diana,

 Among the young men, whose bodies they will find after the special operation, there will definitely be names earlier declared missing in action. Please, investigate this, and if my suspicions are correct, find the parents, talk to them, and make a report." 

My correspondent in Dagestan - a young, nice-looking young woman - received a letter of refusal from me last month. I told her I was sorry I couldn't pay that month, and that I was looking for funds. As usual, she replied that it was fine, that I could pay her whenever I was able.

 Besides Diana, there are eight other journalists working for me either on credit, or using public funds, in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Adygea, Stavropolye, and Krasnodar. These are people who are not indifferent to what happens today in Russia and the Caucasus. There are few of them, and their number dwindles with each year.

 Having sent off the letter, and realized that I owe Diana another 8 dollars, I remembered that I urgently needed to send off a few requests to donors, recommended to me by my friend, Tomas Vrsovskii from

 Tomas recently received an American grant, and now he has time to think about me.

Last quarter, I sent out 50 letters. Two of them were honored with a reply. The first one read:

 "This is to confirm the receipt of your application. Your reference number is 9377. We will try to answer you within 45 days. This notification has been generated automatically."

 The second one said:

"Unfortunately, we do not fund organizations not based in Russia."

 How can this be?

 I compose another letter.

 "Dear A.R. 

While our group is officially registered in Prague, the entirety of our work takes place in the North Caucasus, in Russia. We have a bureau in Nalchik, and seven correspondents across the North Caucasus - a total of nine."

 A sudden notification from Outlook Express distracts me from the letter. A report from Dagestan (for 8 dollars) has arrived. "The shorter, the better," I decide, and send off the letter to yet another "indifferent donor."

 I open the new e-mail, read it, quickly edit, and send it off to put up on the website.

 As soon as I begin to study the list of donors recommended by Tomas, my phone rings.


Andrei Babitskii is on the line. 

Andrei is our star. He is the editor of our analytical section, and a close friend to Shamil Basaev. Without him, my life would not be nearly as eventful.

" I put up the Kadyrov piece," Andrei says, solemnly as usual.

 "I'll take a look at it," I say.

 Just as I finish the first paragraph, the phone rings again.

 "Are you done yet?"

 "Andrei, I just started."

 "But you have to admit, it's a great piece!" 

"But I haven't finished reading it. How can I say whether it's great or not?"

 "You should have seen the first draft, I rewrote it completely." 

"Andrei, I know you rewrite your pieces completely. I'll call you back when I'm done. "

While I was reading the piece, Andrei called me about five times, repeating that without his editorial genius, which he offered Caucasus Times some two years ago, everything would have been lost.

 Andrei left me alone and I got back to business. Before I knew it, the day was over. In the evening, Diana sent me another piece, adding another 8 dollars to my debt.

"Something has to happen soon," I thought. "The project proposals have been sent out, the projects themselves, too. What else? Some of the news I could do on my own, like Kabardino-Balkaria. I'm from there myself, I have the sources, I could do that. Karachaevo-Cherkessia I could do as well. I also have to send out letters to the banks. That covers at least some of the expenses."

I return home and remember about the list of donors recommended by Tomas. I open my laptop and begin, half-consciously, to skim through the websites. 

"The forms, again..."

 I began to fill in the blanks for a grant from the American Embassy. By the time I got to the second question, my mind shut down and I went to bed.

 The next morning, once again, I was swamped by news.

 "God," I thought, "how long can I go on like this?"

And then the phone rang.

 "Hello, Islam! My name is Tim Williams," the stranger said.

 "Nice to meet you," I replied.

 "I'm the director of Projects-Direct.Net, an organization helping independent media locate financial resources." ("God, did you really hear me?") "I found out about your financial problems on," he continued. 
It was amazing, he knew everything.

 "I studied your work, it's impressive," he said. "I'm ready to help."

It is difficult to describe how much this person did in the next two months. Tim Williams completely revamped our projects, capitalizing on all the right accents. He negotiated with donors and got the British "Guardian" interested in our project "Caucasus Times - News Line." He taught us to properly compose project proposals, and broadened our horizons in terms of locating funds.

But most importantly, he saved our website. His help arrived just as we were giving up.

Islam Tekushev,
Editor-in-chief, Caucasus Times