I have written about the frustration of fundraising for nonprofit, community based organisations in South Africa before and feel the need to once again touch on this subject. My frustration level has not decreased. Some of the frustrations include:
The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF):
Where the “bleep” is the lotto of South Africa. Why is there no annual call for proposals, why – if they have to sporadic call for proposals does it take so long to pay out to organisations? They seem to have a high level administration system set up to get the money into their coffers and maintain their organisational system, but an inadequate, not-so-important system to get the money to organisations. It seems like the Lotto exists and function to maintain the Institution of the Lotto. International Donors: International funders seem to have the belief that everything is A-OK in South Africa and many do not fund services in our country any more – looking at the larger number of rich and well to do people in our country, and seemingly forgetting about the substantially increased number of very poor and vulnerable. Yes, as far as the very rich are concerned, resources and money is shared more equitable – but for the poor and very poor inequality levels has increased ominously.
Department of Social Development:
The Department enters into partnerships with nonprofits and non-governmental organisations, but it is the most unequal and lopsided partnerships imaginable. Many of the organisations we have worked with have at present have a split personality approach to service delivery – rendering services as pre-scribed and “purchased” by the Department one the one hand ( to ensure some income) and rendering needs based community services on a shoestring budget. The fact that nobody – both the department and the NPO field – seems to have a holistic picture for the development and management of the nonprofit field does not help.
Disclaimers, exclusions and process:
It is very frustrating when you land on a CSI/CSR webpage and see the company focus and what they have funded, see a match, but do not see any way to contact them. It is further frustrating to see a match, see contact details, but see the dreaded words – no unsolicited applications. You receive an explanation of how they go about selecting their partners and how their staff monitors the NGO field-and you know the small locally based NGO, that does brilliant services, has no or little possibility coming to their attention. In the event that they have a process and contact information, and you submit a proposal – you receive a standard response of your application not falling in their funding area – with added requirements and conditions that they failed to mention previously. Also let’s not forget the dreaded non-fundable administration or running costs (including salaries). In the past year we have worked with over a 100 organisations in training, organisational development, M& E and Fundraising – there is not one where the skill and expertise of their facilitators and staff IS the project, and a quite often THE project expense – but tough luck.
Unfortunately Nonprofits contribute to the present status quo. The lack of cooperation, partnerships and sharing of resources, leads to significant duplication of services and costs. It does seem that some organisations raise funds and render services to ensure sustainability of the organisation (in terms of job security for staff) – as opposed to rendering needs based services that communities require. Many organisations do not have (and some are not really eager to develop) governance and accountability processes to illustrate the impact of their services and how funds were spent.
So what does one do?
We work with about 10 non-profit organisations in the Western Cape at a flat fee of R3800pm for a one year period. For this we develop a case statement, service profile and organisational audit, matched donor database, mentor relevant personnel in how to source, cultivate and steward donors etc. Also included in this is the sourcing of funds from 60 matched donors (where we assist relevant staff in the follow up, cultivation etc. of these donors). By the end of the year the client has an extensive database of matched donors, comprehensive fundraising strategy, base documents and skills to take on resource mobilization independently.
We do not however do this without pushing, prodding and harassing organisations in developing risk management plans, Accountability processes and tools, comprehensive monitoring and evaluation systems, service impact evaluation processes, analysis of relevance of services, customer and stakeholder satisfaction processes, partnership analysis, service priority matrixes etc. In other words – addressing the gaps in organisations to ensure full and comprehensive accountability and addressing concerns raised by funders.
And this is why my frustration level has not decreased. I raised 5 frustrations – these organisations have fixed up their portion of non- performance. But still NLDTF is not calling for proposals or paying out money, international donors are missing, South African corporate donors are investing in sports, Department of Social Development maintains their power base and the disclaimers, exclusions and processes keep on growing
Once again - It should be easier to change the world for the better
Pauline Roux is Managing Partner at the Organisational Puzzle