Various articles and research studies indicate that nonprofits are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed. The content of many of these articles indicate quite rightly that there are many things that nonprofits are doing wrong or are not doing which is negatively impacting on their ability to raise funds and resources. We work with about 14 organisations on fundraising (on set monthly fee not commission based) as part-time fundraisers or to assist in-house fundraisers. The first thing we do is set up and develop all the requirements, systems and accountability systems that are required and ensure that nonprofits can deliver. Having done this one implements the fundraising/resource mobilisation process – the first step being research and matching nonprofit organisations with potential funders. And this is where the frustration starts.
The reality is that donors receive numerous requests and cannot possibly satisfy all requests or even a small part of the requests that they receive. But it is very frustrating when you land on their CSI/CSR webpage and see their 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.
International funders seem to have the belief that everything is A-OK in South Africa and many do not fund services in our country – looking at the larger number of rich and well to do people in our country, and seemingly forgetting about the increased number of very poor and vulnerable. Also let us not forget the dreaded non-fundable administration or running costs (including salaries). In the past year (2014) we have worked with over a 100 organisations in training, organisational development, monitoring and evaluation 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. Risk management is a given in today’s nonprofit world – but there should be a balance between project funding risks and the risk of the actual project implementation and management. We of course have NLTDF who fund this – when they get so far as to call for proposals or actually pay out funds, but let us not go there.
It should be easier to change the world for the better.
- Fatima Abrahams is the Managing Partner at The Organisational Puzzle.