2012 NPO Forecast - A Time to Hasten Slowly

funding donors accountability resource mobilisation NPO sustainability
Wednesday, 25 January, 2012 - 11:06

NPOs should position themselves to deliver on their mandates in order to continue making a difference in people’s lives

In these uncertain times it’s reassuring to know that the world will most definitely continue to spin, so ignore the Mayan calendar prophecy that humanity will evaporate in December 2012. However, the Mayans predict an era that will be more spiritual with new awakenings.

New opportunities abound for those who are ready to reflect and do things differently, change leadership styles and ignore negativity.

Securing sufficient resources has never been an easy ride, many newcomers to the world of fundraising will say “there’s no money around”, “people are just not giving anymore”, yet history reveals innumerable periods of feast and famine and we’re still standing.

Good causes thrive regardless of the economy, so take inspiration from one of the finest leaders and fundraisers, Dr. John Dube, the first president of the African National Congress. He was an educator, writer, editor, preacher who launched two projects against all odds;  he secured sufficient resources for the founding of the Ohlange Native Industrial Institute in 1901 and then the first isiZulu newspaper, Hanga Lase Nata (Natal Sun) in 1903 against snobbery, colonialism, racism and a hostile economy. Some believe that his adept fundraising and persuasive style of speech gave him the edge over contenders in being elected to lead a fledgling political party (African Native National Congress) in 1912.  His guiding principle in life was to ‘hasten slowly’.

Fundraisers will bear the wrath of anxious nonprofit leaders; fear levels will be unbearable in the first quarter of the year as demands for services and assistance in poor communities  remain exceptionally high and the flow of funds remain painfully slow. But things will improve as the year chugs along so don’t get maudlin, take up Zumba dancing and go with the rhythm.

Leaders Support Fundraising

Encourage board members and senior managers to add a new glow to fundraising. Try the ‘My Ten’ concept (aka ‘my Ten Cents worth’) for each leader to do; invite 10 players to a fundraising golf day, buy a table for 10 at a gala dinner, provide details of 10 new prospects, invite 10 people to a braai and talk about the organisation, forward 10 e-newsletters promoting the cause, buy 10 tickets of whatever’s, donate R10 a month via stop order.  Just do it - sow some new seeds.

Individual Givers Increase

Recent findings indicate that although the Rand value of gifts from individuals has dropped the number of givers has increased but only for those who made the effort to build new relationships in 2011.

Online and digital-based giving keeps growing in popularity among all generations; 80 percent of donors, during the Haiti Earthquake, gave online. The Thumbs Generation, those born with the emergence of mobile devices, will only support causes utilising new technology in the future, so be cool and get with it.

If you are embarking on a major gift campaign then you will also need to thoroughly research High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) so hasten slowly. Start with the top 15 wealthiest people in Africa, those who get mentioned in Fortune 500.  Then find out who they play with; golf buddies, beach walkers, bridge team, Sushi bar chums because the play mates will actually be the wealthier networks with a lesser public profile.

Foreign Funds

Donations from abroad will continue to decrease or desist as the global economic downturn continues to drag on, although Germany is buoyant and things are picking up.

Some NPOs are receiving therapy after news that funds will no longer flow from the United States of America or Europe, a trend that will continue for another two or three years. Some of the larger funders like; The Ford Foundation, CS Mott and government agencies such as the Department for International Development (DFID) or Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will continue with programmes in South Africa but on a smaller scale. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) remains committed but this could change in 2013.

Brandraise: Lift Public Relations

Public Relations (PR) are back on top as one of the ‘it’ professions as companies fight for attention in the market place among a cacophony of messages, this also applies to the nonprofit world. Increase your efforts in raising your brand and voice. If you can’t afford a professional then discover how to manage your own image and get recognised, sign-up for a short course.

In the ‘2011 NGO Ask Africa Trust’ survey, Gift of the Givers was number one while a lesser known entity, Life College, was a six - good PR leads to higher visibility and recognition.

Impact Equals ROSI

Measured impact equals return on social investment (ROSI) which demonstrates how as an NPO you contribute to the economy and upliftment of people. Stop flaunting numbers and start selling economic influence. Sell the sizzle and not just the steak when writing funding proposals.

It all starts with a compelling ‘mission’ that ultimately leads into performance thereby creating impact. Mission is the key to unlocking outcomes but most nonprofit organisations’ (NPO) mission statements are either very abstract or outdated. So perhaps revisit the relevance of your mission and objectives, also do a stakeholder mapping session. Look at who defines your success? Who has expectations from your work? Who are your primary stakeholders? These are the people you will need to inspire when presenting outcomes and results. Support will remain if you’re open and honest.

Ethical Behaviour

Check for ethical breaches in the way you are raising funds as this will also be how you are measured and judged.

Time to Toyi-toyi Lotto

All gambling is down as punters feel the economic pinch which could affect the National Lottery Development Trust Fund’s (NLDTF) income. Some say it will be at least one-third less which means the distribution agencies will be looking for more reasons to say ‘no’. So don’t give them an excuse to throw out your 2012 application, make sure you’ve crossed all I’s and dotted T’s, also check that financial statements reflect the real status of the organisation and that all reports for previous grants have been submitted to the NLDTF and a receipt that they’ve been received.

The whistle blower system is failing so it might be time for Minister Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, to call in the Hawks and purge dirty tricks. The practice of Lotto Brokers (commissions paid to third parties with so-called ‘connections’) needs investigation.

If you can’t complete your own application form then how on earth can you manage an organisation, let alone the grant?

Slow-down at NPO Directorate

New NPOs will continue to be frustrated by the slow process of registration with the Department of Social Development. After clearing-up a massive backlog in 2006 and reducing registration time to less than four weeks it’s now back to an inefficient system that takes 5-6 months. Shame on the new Minister, shame on the new Director - things have come undone since their appointments.

Business Still a Darling

According to the 14th Edition of the CSI Handbook, corporate social investment (CSI) support for 2011 was R6.2 billion of which 70 percent was in monetary donations from CSI budget lines and 30 percent derived from other initiatives happening in the business. CSI in SA has grown by more than six percent each year since the late 1990s, which is more than other developing countries and also something we should be proud of, as the second and third sector jointly work towards the alleviation of poverty.

R9 Billion in the Jobs Fund – Cut a Deal

More social enterprises will unfold this year as caring individuals want to make a difference and provide employment opportunities. This is a growth area with numerous innovative investors prepared to get behind social entrepreneurs and green jobs.

In a developing country, NPOs play an important part in the creation of jobs reaching both urban and rural areas. It’s a collective powerhouse offering training and skills in fields of agriculture, education, health and more. NPOs are great team players in building sustainable livelihoods thereby stabilising the economy.  So keep an eye on the Development Bank of South Africa’s website for new Jobs Fund proposals, probably around July.

NGOs get a reduced ‘own contribution rate’ of around 5:1 compared to the private sector of 1:1 - your proposal has to be air-tight as the selection process is tough.

Find a Sugar Daddy

Think twice, plan thrice for survival when working with government departments, they are notoriously slow in making payments, anything from six months to one year, which could lead you into the ‘debtors jail’. Make sure you have a sugar daddy to bail you out.

Statistics and Damn Lies

A number of depressing surveys have outlined a gloomy SA but it is all lies and exaggeration.

Ignore the Misery Index that rates SA as second out of 80 countries for being the most miserable country in the world based on unemployment versus inflation rates, yet this dumb index forgets to include countries like Zimbabwe, North Korea and Somalia.

The 2011CAF World Giving Index says that South Africa has dropped from number 76 to 108 with Nigeria and Liberia in the top 15 counties. This report measures donations, volunteering and helping a stranger, the latter being the most common giving behaviour in Sub-Saharan Africa. It appears that ubuntu flourishes outside of SA?

And then to top it all, the Rand was the worst performing currency in the world during 2011 and now Fitch Ratings have downgraded the country from stable to negative.

It’s a great time to be a fundraiser and change pace. Enjoy the challenge!

- Ann Bown is a financial sustainability consultant to the nonprofit sector and consults widely in Africa. She can be contacted on 011 795 3271. For more about Charisma Communications, refer to www.charisma.za.org.


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