We are continuing our discussion about how non-profits and social enterprises can be carrying out their fundraising, advocacy and pledges campaign. If you missed out on the first publication, you can read about it here.
What are some of the sources of raising funds available to NGOs and social enterprises?
NGOs or non-profits ideally are supposed to be the major fund raiser when it comes to donation and fundraising. But what we have seen most of the time is that, the social enterprise actually raise funds better the non-profits, even though it’s a social enterprise. This is majorly due to the way many of the non-profits are set up, because social enterprises think a lot like a business man. Even though he is first looking at his impact, but he is also looking at the bottom line at the same time. So the way they approach what they do, sets them up to attract fund, because most donors don’t want the impact to stop at them, they are attracted to give when they see that there is a path to sustainability.
That’s why the social enterprises are getting more donations than non-profits, because people are donating for them to be impacting and also become self sustainable in the future. But with the non-profits, it’s about “give me now, and give me now”.
There is always a product that can transform to a means of funding for NGOs; it’s always about having a foresight. Are you seeing blind people as helpless people? Or you are looking at the ability they have in their disability? These abilities are what non-profits should create a product around.
The social enterprise see the value on the get go, while non-profits just sees the impact without seeing the money, so they always struggle to raise funds.
There are several funding sources around; here are the most prominent ones below;
- You, your friends and family!
Just like what we have in business funding, your primary fund raisers are you, your friends and family. The closest people to you are the very first set of funding sources available to your NGO. Charity they say begins at home!
The next source of funding is your community, and this critical, because they are actively involved in what you are doing with your NGO or social enterprise. This is the exact reason why NGOs and social enterprises in other climes find it easy to raise funds. They were able to build a community of supporters.
- Individual network and targeted organisations.
The other means is individual network and targeted organisations. These are the people that connect with your cause either through the impact programmes you are doing or by an interest that they have. If you share the same passion as them, they will support your cause. These people could be outside your circle of influence, basically you can’t control what happens with them. You are never sure of how much response you will get from them, and their response depends on how they perceive your request.
NGOs and social enterprises can also get funding through various grant opportunities. Of course you will have to apply for the grant and the go through the other process and they decide if you qualify for the grant. This means of funding is also outside your circle of influence, they are in your circle of concern.
The people in your circle of influence are people that can respond to you at any point in time. They are your community, family and friends, that is why they are the most critical part of the sustenance of your NGO or social enterprise. The more your interest grows within your circle of influence, the more your interest grows within your circle of concern.
Are there any obstacles or factors that hinder the fundraising potentials of NGOs and social enterprises?
For non-profits and social enterprises the first thing is identity, who are you? Identity is not about the name you are called, identity in this case is about what you represent. The other factor is credibility. Have you worked the talk or talked the work?
- So, you need to first ask yourself, “Have I created my identity?”.
Your identity is the first hindrance you might have if you don’t have a proper identity. That’s because if people don’t know where you are from or how much impact you have made, they will not trust you enough to fund your non-profit. Your identity will ultimately tell if you are credible, it possible for people to know you, but it’s what you do with that identity that defines your credibility as a non profit.
- Structure of the organisation
The structure of your organisation is also an important factor that can affect funding. People who want to fund you like to see how organised your processes are, they want to see how active the community is. People might know you as the director or founder of the NGO but it goes beyond knowing you alone. If you have not used that community and you are looking to raise fund, once they can see the level of coordination in your community, funding will become seamless.
- Track Record
Track record comes in two ways; when you say track record, have you delivered your promise no matter how difficult it seems? Yes, people can know you on a personal level, they see you as a good person. Let’s assume you are a credible broadcaster who has always reported news in an unbiased way, but have you trained others to become a better journalist before?
If you are now asking for a fund support to train 500 people, you will definitely not get the fund you are looking for because you have not been known to train people to become a journalist.
So the track record must relate to what you want to raise fund for. Your credibility and identity can come from other sources, but track record must relate to that thing you want to raise fund for.
- Your Messaging
Another thing that can be a hindrance is your messaging. You need to get your messaging right, you can have the identity, credibility, structure or track record but you are not telling the right people the right thing. Your messaging has to be spot on. Your messaging must be ripped off emotions and sentiment.
What is Advocacy for NGOs and social enterprises?
Advocacy is a very clear term, also called ‘your town crier’. It is a situation where by it’s not just you talking about your NGO and social enterprise, but people are talking on your behalf. This is why you need a community. They are people that will take your message and spread it to the world.
Advocacy is different from advertising, when you are spreading your message through news media you are advertising, that is not advocacy. Advocacy is very organic, it is out of the impact that you are making that people go out there to say. They will spread your impact on your behalf, and it is also a critical part of fundraising. The more you impact your community, the more you are talked about. And these advocacy is what attract people who will support your cause by providing the fund you need for impact. In corporate world this are the roles brand ambassadors and influencers play. Positive reviews are the best form of advocacy for non-profit organisation.
Why is advocacy critical to the sustainability of NGOs and social enterprises?
If you are a non-profit today and you want a sustainable flow of support/fundraising, you can’t do without advocacy. You can’t go far if you are the only one advocating your cause, you need a community! That recognition must come from people outside your organisation because that is what attracts resources from the circle of concern, because when you get more advocates, it shows you are really adding value and it validates you organisation.
When should NGOs and social enterprises begin advocacy?
Advocacy for non profits and social enterprise are NGOs, if you are conscious about building your community you are unconsciously building advocates. Immediately you set up as an organisation and you are putting things in place to start managing that community, you are also consciously instilling in the member of your community that they should take your message out.
Normally it happens even without any extra effort from you, the effort you use in building that community naturally takes care of them being an advocate. However, you need to consciously pass the message across to them to take it out. Unless you impress on your community the need to spread your message, the community will not grow, and you would not be attracting the kind of funding you are looking for.
Are there any downsides to advocacy for NGOs and social enterprises?
The only way there can be a downside to advocacy is when you are trying to make advocacy inorganic. You will be getting a negative organic advocacy, because these people don’t understand what you are about. It’s like paying influencers or ambassadors to promote your organisation, as soon as your contract expires with them they leave you alone.
This however, can’t happen if you are able to build a community that have a shared interest. The advocacy is organic when a community is involved.
What role do pledges play in the growth and sustainability of NGOs and social enterprises?
Pledges are conscious promises made by people to an organisation, which can be finance or non-finance to be redeemed at a future time. But of course most people don’t redeem those pledges, but it is a game of numbers. The more pledges you get the higher the probability of getting them redeemed.
Fundraising can be likened to the money you get instantly while pledges are something you get in the future. Pledges can also be one off and can be recurring.
How can NGOs and social enterprises attract pledges to their causes?
Everything that attracts money, attracts pledges. Everything you do towards making yourself an organisation that can comfortably raise fund, those things will automatically attract pledges along the way.
With this, we have thoroughly dealt with fundraising, advocacy and pledges. At every different time of your evolution as a non-profit, you will run these campaigns. There will be time to come out to raise money, time where you will have advocate to talk about a certain issue, and there will be time you will also need to seek for pledges.
We have so far discussed leverage impact in 4 steps now, even though it seems you can implement your plans to fund raise, your success still bothers on how you are able to implement the previous steps (step 1-3).
Fundraising is very critical for any organisation; it is the life blood of every organisation.
Fundraising becomes easier when you need to set yourself to be conscious of these steps mentioned in the leverage impact series.