- Resource AlliancePlease note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.Opportunity closing date:Thursday, February 28, 2013Opportunity type:Employment
The capacity-building interventions of the Resource Alliance are usually led by Associates - well-trained capacity building practitioners with extensive knowledge of local fundraising constraints and opportunities.
Due to an increasing demand for its "Tailored Capacity Development Services", and in light of the launch of its EMERGE campaign in 2013, the Resource Alliance seeks to recruit new Associates to join its network of associates.
The Resource Alliance Associates will provide you with the opportunity to work on capacity development projects that aim to develop stronger and more sustainable NGOs in the developing world. In addition, Associates will have opportunities to further develop their expertise through support and peer-learning and development platforms.
Associates typically work in their own countries at a daily rate, as and when needed. Despite the fact that regular opportunities cannot be guaranteed, the Resource Alliance foresees many opportunities arising over the coming months.
Due to limited resources, the Resource Alliance will only contact Associate applicants that have the skills and experience that match its requirements.
The Resource Alliance will aim to contact successful applicants within 30 days.
Click here for more information about Resource Alliance Associates and how to to apply for these positions.
Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.
For more about the Resource Alliance, refer to www.resource-alliance.org.
For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.
Want to reach the widest spectrum of NGO and development stakeholders in South Africa as part of your communication and outreach objectives? Learn more about how the NGO Pulse Premium Advertising Service can support your communication requirements. Visit http://goo.gl/MUCvL for more information.
In this article, the author highlights the importance of well-written and researched funding proposals. She has seen too many badly constructed proposals – peppered with irrelevant information and project budgets that could leave potential donors doubting the ability of organisations to use scarce financial resources.
I am very privileged to consult, train and mentor to a variety of nonprofit organisations (NPOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) in South Africa. Most of these organisations do the most astonishing and brave work and are addressing the very tough and uncomfortable social ills we face daily. However, they do it with extraordinary pride and dedication. For these organisations and many like them, the driving force is the welfare and protection of their beneficiaries.
As we are well aware, the current financial crisis facing the sector is unprecedented and disturbing – and we must use all the skills at our disposal to merely survive. One method of securing funding is to submit funding proposals and many organisations have already asked me to edit their proposals. Despite the time and effort put into their work, the material I receive does not reflect the outstanding work done – the facts are jumbled and/or irrelevant, the document is just too long and the project budget bears little or no valuable information. Let us use a well-written funding proposal to convey what we do and why our needs are urgent.
Are you securing the funds needed to continue the vital and important work you do?
Let us use the power of words to tell our stories, engage our donors and increase our funding. One of the most critical factors hampering our efforts to assist beneficiaries, retain staff, and have an impact on communities - is our inability to secure funding.
So when writing a proposal, remember:
- Most of the time our donors cannot be where your organisation is working - to see for themselves the good work you do;
- We need to take the reader there in words and pictures, to paint images of our work so successfully in their minds will be like the donor is almost there in person;
- Never be dull, bland or unmoving;
- Communicate with passion. We have the best stories in the world to tell, the best reasons for telling them, and donors love heroes;
- People give to people, not to plans, projects, organisations, mission statements or strategies;
- Fundraising is all about people giving something of what they have to help another in need;
- It is about necessary work that urgently needs doing. Fundraising is about meeting needs; and
- Offer a clear, direct proposition – a unique selling proposition.
The NPO sector is experiencing tough times and securing the funding we need to continue our important and vital projects is proving difficult.
Many of you do not have the time to compile funding proposals or you are not sure which words work and why. A good funding proposal is one that answers the following questions:
- What is the background information to your organisation?
- What is the need/problem statement?
- What is the description of the project/programme and objectives?
- How many beneficiaries will be reached?
- What evidence is there that the need is urgent and pressing?
- Is your NPO uniquely qualified to tackle this need?
- What exactly are you applying for?
- Is your budget easy to understand?
- Is the sum for money being asked for realistic?
- Has sufficient time being spent on line items and needs?
- Does your budget have any correlation to your organisational budget and audited financial statements?
- Title page, index, covering letter, executive summary, main proposal, budget and enclosures;
- A funding proposal should be a minimum of four pages and a maximum of six pages (unless otherwise stipulated by the potential donor).
NPO Development and Training is aware of the constraints on your time and resources and for this reason has designed a package to elevate this problem – by writing your funding proposals. It has written proposals on behalf of clients for:
CSI funding; socio-economic funding; economic development funding; funding from international and national trusts, foundations and agencies for organisations such as Badisa, Cancer Association of South Africa, Child Welfare South Africa, I Care Foundation, Mpumalanga Mental Health, CMR, Restorative Justice Centre, Khulisa Social Services, Autism South Africa, Auksano, University of Johannesburg and would be happy to assist your organisation.
This is Part 2 of a two-part series of articles to assist NGOs in the transition towards greater autonomy. We explore some actions that can assist with transition to a more businesslike approach, and also take a closer look at income generation and its viability in the non-profit context.
Think Like a Business
Let’s start by looking at four important ‘re-thinking’ strategies that help an NGO make the transformation to greater success:
1. What is the trade? Understanding the ‘fair value exchange’
A key ‘aha moment’ in the transformation of an NGO is the recognition of the value that NGOs offer to funders.
In a traditional business environment, the value exchange is easy to spot as goods and services are exchanged for money. Key to this successful relationship is a win-win for both parties in the form of a balanced or fair value exchange. In a nonprofit context, it can be more difficult to recognise what is being exchanged and to know when this is equal or fair.
The starting point therefore is to recognise what we are exchanging. What exactly is the trade?
Generally NGOs provide a service making a difference and uplifting communities in areas of need. Funders want the same end results, but can’t achieve this without NGOs and effectively pay them to deliver the results they wish to see. The NGO becomes the service-provider of social change.
As an example, an NGO providing HIV counselling in impoverished areas is delivering on their mandate to develop healthy communities. For a corporate social investment (CSI) manager whose mandate is to make a difference in communities in this way, you are a Godsend! You are the implementing agent of their vision, and your service delivers the outcomes that they seek. In this case the fair value exchange is community empowerment in exchange for money (funding) – and remember that the more visible, tangible and measurable this outcome is, the more readily it can be valued by the funder.
2. Who is the client? Using client-centred thinking
Most NGOs view their beneficiaries as their client and are totally focussed on providing added-value goods and services (usually for free) to the people, community or cause that they serve. The business-like approach sees things differently.
In business terms, a client is someone who pays for goods and services. As radical as it may seem to some, this means that the NGOs’ client is actually the funder, not the beneficiary, and it is this paying client that enables the services of the NGO to be delivered. Of course a sincere commitment to the servicing of this beneficiary community is at the authentic core of any reputable NGO, so we are not suggesting a diluting of this commitment, but rather recognition of the role of the primary funder client, without whom the NGO will simply cease to exist.
Recognise who your real clients are, and look after them like gold!
3. Costing and pricing – who pays the overheads?
A common challenge in the nonprofit sector is that many funders shy away from covering running costs and overheads, and are especially prickly about salaries. This is understandable from the funder perspective, as they are reluctant to fund a lavish, lax or unproductive organisation and because it is nearly impossible to quantify impact from supporting the running costs and salaries of a service-provider organisation, nonprofit or otherwise.
Now we are in no way suggesting that all NGOs are lavish, lax or unproductive, but it is the responsibility of the NGO to prove this and to motivate these costs as part of an effective, productive unit.
The reality is that any organisation must recoup its running costs to survive. In costing terminology this is known as overhead contribution or overhead recovery, and it is generally added to the price as a percentage of direct costs (raw materials and direct labour). Typical overhead contributions can range from 15 – 40 percent, depending on the size of the organisation and the overhead structure. What this means is that to be sustainable, your organisation should be building into the budget a contribution towards overheads; it can be in the form of project managers’ fees, administrative costs etc, all perfectly legitimate and justified as long as they are project-specific and not inflated or unreasonable.
Know that overheads exist and are a legitimate part of the operational costs of all organisations, and find ways to make them palatable to your funding client!
4. Return on investment – understanding the terminology
We spoke in the first instalment about Return on Investment. In business terms, this simply means getting something back for what you put in, usually in the form of profits or other strategic advantage. In the CSI and development context, this includes the beneficial outcomes that result from investment in a project, community or social initiative. Sometimes called ‘Return on Social Investment’ this return can be measured in social terminology such as people supported, CO2 reduced, children educated, rather than in pure monetary measures.
Secondary returns can also be very important, and benefits such as positive media and public relations opportunities, the chance to form strategic partnerships with government and other stakeholders and the generation of goodwill and brand loyalty can be a very valuable return on investment for funding clients.
The nonprofit that understands the concept of return on investment and its importance to corporate clients especially, will have a better chance of developing long-term funder relationships.
If You Do It, Do it Properly
While many nonprofit and related organisations run income-generating initiatives, success stories are few and often use outside expertise (advisory Board, mentors, consultants etc) to guide growth. The reasons for this are varied but a common denominator is a lack of singular purpose – many non-profits start income generation programmes as an add-on to their core activities (whether HIV support, social services, advocacy, feeding schemes etc) and thus find it difficult to commit the full and necessary resources that the initiative needs to be self-sustainable. This is in contrast to a typical business, where sharp focus is needed if one is to succeed.
We recently received an e-mail from an NGO colleague asking for assistance with the product development of handbags made from recycled newspaper. The intention was to capacitate a group of unemployed women to make the handbags to generate income for themselves, and some commission for the NGO itself. Their plan was to build up some stock and then look for potential markets.
This is sadly a very typical scenario in NGOs across South Africa – whereby an income generation project is started with excellent intentions but little planning. Our response to her was as follows:
- The starting point for any income generation initiative (like any business) is finding a viable market. Who, where, when, how and at what price would be typical questions to ask. (the market-led strategy);
- Once the market is better defined the next step is finding or developing a suitable product for that market, bearing in mind the competition, variances in taste, quality, design and trends (market-led product development);
- This should be followed by developing the appropriate business infrastructure, and the necessary basic systems and methods to run the business operation, including HR, sales, marketing, admin, financial etc;
- Only after these steps are complete should we venture into training producers to produce, refining the product to ensure that it is manufactured and supplied at a sustainable margin, and making up some samples or stock.
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- Catherine Wijnberg is director and Anton Ressel development practitioner at Fetola & Associates.
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.
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.
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.
In today’s business world, the informed CEO makes strategic corporate social investment (CSI) decisions, aligned with core business interests. The excellent organisation integrates sustainability with business performance, and forms collaborative partnerships with government to influence policy and advocate change.
Over the past couple of years, the CSI industry was forced to take off its rose-tinted spectacles to assess the core of its developmental efforts. The world is fed-up with naïve goodwill, flamboyant cheque writing, PR spin and scattered donations. Society demands truly accountable organisations. Boards, funders, NGOs, practitioners and academics are asking hard-hitting questions about the effectiveness (and the future) of CSI.
In short: the world of CSI has changed dramatically. Businesses cannot afford to do things the way they have done it in the past, and they cannot ignore the rapidly shifting landscape of social development.
In my view, the following seven trends will dictate the business of CSI in both an African and South African context. A series of indicative phenomena have been driving these trends – the most notable perhaps, global legislation, the financial meltdown and climate change.
TREND 1: Linking cash with care
CSI can only be truly sustainable if it is also financially viable. This has resulted in more revolutionary market-based approaches to CSI. Perhaps one of the best South African examples is the Nedbank Green Affinity programme. This project successfully illustrates how the bank empowered staff and clients to make a real difference to the environment and people less fortunate than them, simply by encouraging them to use one of their products – the Nedbank Green Affinity credit card – as a vehicle to channel their contributions in a meaningful way.
A new business breed is also emerging in the world of commerce. Ashoka – one of the global leaders in the development space – coined the phrase ‘social entrepreneurs’ in the 80s. Today, South Africa is teeming with young, mindful individuals who recognise the country’s social problems and apply their entrepreneurial flair to create and manage commercial ventures to achieve social change. Claire Reid, founder of the Reel Garden project, who successfully patented pre-fertilised seed strips for vegetable gardens (now sold at several commercial outlets in South Africa), is an excellent example of such an entrepreneur. These are the individuals you want to invest in to further your development programmes and effect sustainable social change.
Increasingly, trends like bottom-of-the-pyramid strategies (how to encourage marginalised people to buy your product), the micro credit movement (with leading examples by Grameen Bank in rural India) and growing impact investing, emphasise the vital role of commercial integration with CSI.
TREND 2: Adapt, comply (or die)
As the focus on sustainability reporting and triple bottom-line compliance narrows, companies are under increased ‘pressure to measure’. This includes the more-difficult-to-measure social side of the business. The GRI 3.1 sustainability reporting framework requires companies to prove the effectiveness of their social development claims. Organisations need to show impact on communities and return for the business.
In South Africa, companies need to comply with the soon-to-be revised Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Act and the respective industry charters, as well as several voluntary compliance platforms like the JSE-SRI Index. From 2011 onwards, as per King III, South African companies will also be obliged to report in an integrated fashion, effectively making South Africa the first country in the world to make King III compliance compulsory for business. Have you considered this a USP, as your organisation competes on the environmentally-minded international stage?
TREND 3: We’re in this for the long run (because it makes business sense)
The quest for sustainability has become feverish in the face of compelling legislation. With the increasing number of regulatory requirements companies might suffer from ‘compliance fatigue’. But the excellent organisation also realises the importance thereof. Triple bottom-line drivers have elevated CSI from once being a trivial, side-plate function to becoming one of the most important strategic business tools to ensure a licence to operate. CSI is, in effect, both a reputation and risk management strategy to mitigate negative impact and ensure business sustainability, as opposed to simply a reputation driver, as it was viewed in the past.
Organisations must engage with stakeholders, conduct social baseline studies, develop models that meet stakeholder requirements and have detailed exit strategies in place to ensure the sustainability of both business and society.
As new patterns of giving emerge, the ripple effect of CSI is also far greater than the effect it has on your immediate stakeholder base. Trends such as indigenous giving, poor philanthropists (the poor giving to the poor) and diaspora giving, where migrant workers send money to families in their home countries, mean that your development efforts touch lives across borders.
TREND 4: The beautiful south
A development trend that will greatly impact on the role South African business plays in the emerging economic landscape is South Africa’s recent inclusion into BRICSA. Although this has not yet trickled down to the commercial sector, several global partnerships have been formed at government level. These partnerships are likely to influence multi-national private organisations’ development efforts and South African businesses must take cognisance thereof.
A ‘south to south’ development trend is also prevalent. Southern African funders invest little money north of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) borders. Countries like South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho have joined hands in major infrastructural and other developmental partnerships (the growing amount of Southern African healthcare case studies related to HIV/Aids and Malaria, is a clear case in point).
TREND 5: The end of the world as we know it
In September 2008 the financial markets came to a standstill. Many analysts predicted that the capitalist world – as we know it – would cease to exist. Naturally, the resulting recession continues to have a gripping effect on CSI, holding both bad news and good news for practitioners.
The downturn forced an increasing number of NGOs to close their doors. This emphasises that companies should consider operational costs when funding NGOs – a specialist development agency without funds to run effectively, is futile. It also means your investment is futile.
Furthermore, donors continue battling to fulfil their pledges, and international funding has almost dried up leaving a huge developmental gap that government and the private sector needs to fill. Despite this gap, CSI budgets in South Africa were cut with 23 percent in 2008, 20 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2010 as a result of the recession.
The flipside of the coin is the new discourse about aid and development effectiveness. Companies value the impact and return on investment of CSI more than ever before and multi-sectoral partnerships have been formed to address social concerns.
TREND 6: Business unusual
Increasingly, more unconventional approaches direct businesses’ funding decisions. Companies evaluate their social programmes for human rights compliance, violations and infringements to make sure that they adhere to issues such as gender diversity and racial equality; while climate change has become one of the most crippling issues of our time.
Without proper climate change policies in place, business’ long-term sustainability is under threat. Companies are therefore increasingly basing their funding decisions on issues such as food security, energy efficiency and water and waste management.
TREND 7: Finding new focus
In view of changing economic conditions, companies are shifting their focus to programmes that have an effect on their core business. Job creation has never been higher on the agenda. Increasingly companies fund enterprises, SMME and skills development. Environmental focus areas also attract more funding - specifically renewable energy, carbon offsetting and security of water and food supply.
Although education is still the most widely-funded focus area with 93 percent of corporates supporting education-related development – funding for early childhood development, schools, bursaries, further education and training and subject-specific programmes like science and maths, decreased. Companies are starting to realise that they can no longer fund programmes, purely based on a ‘bandwagon effect’. The impact of their focus areas must be critically evaluated in light of their business needs, which implies that companies must focus on the future skills they will require in the business as opposed to funding education in general.
Government has also cut HIV/AIDS funding as prevalence rates drop and the private sector seems to be following suit. If a large portion of your workforce is HIV positive, this is perhaps a focus area that you would like to reconsider, despite the prevailing industry trend.
There is no doubt that the evolving discipline of CSI has taken several new directions in the last few years. I am of the firm opinion that businesses cannot afford to ignore these trends on their path to sustainability excellence, as it now has a direct impact on their bottom-line.
- Reana Rossouw is a strategic sustainability consultant and director and owner of Next Generation Consultants.
Before the advent of the welfare state in Great Britain, extreme family poverty was dealt with through the philanthropy of rich persons to whom such human misery was unbearable.
This charity was given only to those whom they regarded as the 'deserving poor'. In practice, this meant that charity was given only to those whom the feudal lords regarded as having demonstrated an acceptance of the indignity of their social and economic status.
In this context, philanthropy does not arise from principles of human rights, human solidarity or social advancement and progress, but rather, a false altruism with an unintended consequence of breeding dependency and keeping the poor, poor.
This legacy continues in South Africa today in many forms. It is called corporate social investment.
If not misguided altruists, what do you call legions of highly skilled company executives and staff taking time off work to pack meals, ostensibly to “Stop Hunger Now”? Surely, this makes sense in a major crisis or disaster situation, not as a team building publicity stunt or what others have correctly referred to as ‘poverty pornography’.
These publicity stunts take place while it is now clear even to the most careless observer that our country has serious capacity problems in local government relating to financial, engineering and project management skills that result in service delivery strikes, not to mention poor leadership skills at our schools. Instead, why don’t these highly skilled executives and staff tackle real systemic issues that underwrite poverty?
These unsustainable initiatives are often referred to as ubuntu. This kind of behaviour is not African. It is not ubuntu. In African tradition, people who do not have cattle to till the land get assisted by others to plough and plant the land in what is called ‘ILima’. They assume full responsibility to weed it until harvesting. My contention therefore is that we are beholden by a deep-rooted-bleeding heart colonial mindset which ends up doing more harm than good. To change the mindset, requires new rules of engagement:
It all starts with the language you use. If you start talking about projects you will soon get lost in adjudicating whose needs are the greatest and who is more ‘deserving’ of your alms and handouts. If you talk about social investment, you will think about what will bring about a social return on investment, effectively and efficiently.
Proper Self Interest
Social investment that benefits business first, then society and the environment, and engage the best minds in a company. It becomes long-term commitment rather than flavours of the moment or a CEO pet project. A financial services company with customers deep in debt is shooting itself in the foot if it does not have financial education in its social investment portfolio. GE used Ecomagination to build a new business by increasing awareness of how the company was using renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. This is now a multibillion enterprise by itself. Long before global warming became front page news, Toyota accepted that the conventional petrol engine harmed the environment. The company worked out how much harm their engines caused and created a strategy to mitigate the harm caused, while researching new hybrid models that have less environmental impact.
Be true to your brand, values and traditions
A corporate social investment must strengthen the brand, inside-out. You cannot be a caring organisation outside when you are callous, ruthless and uncaring inside. To be relevant, a social investment portfolio must speak to your strategic objectives, your brand, your values and traditions.
For Virgin, it makes sense to focus on entrepreneurship as a celebration of its origins and its founder’s unbounded entrepreneurial spirit. Suntory, a bestselling Japanese whiskey supports arts and has built an art museum and an opera house in line with its key value of harmony. Today, Research in Motion’s Blackberry Messenger is central to democracy and social change.
A single social investment that benefits shareholders, employees, suppliers, society and the environment stands to deliver the most return on social investment. Despite divisions from within companies, consumer perceptions of good companies are informed by a totality of how it behaves towards all of its stakeholders, including its employees, customers, suppliers, other companies it collaborates or competes with, and the local and global community in which it operates.
The argument I hope I have made here is not: “We know what society’s problems are, and as corporates, we have solutions - our solutions.” It is: “We know what our problems are, we want to work with other social partners to solve them and in the process advance society and preserve our environment for future generations.” That is how corporate social investment (CSI) becomes relevant to the organisation. That is how you become relevant to stakeholders – by being honest about your true intentions. The problem with CSI practitioners is that they often do not know what the strategic issues are in their own business. As a result, they remain irrelevant, a side issue and a cost centre, rather than part of value creation.
Real change can only come about when we embrace real change in how we think and perceive our actions and our world. To paraphrase Peter Senge (The Necessary Revolution): while institutions matter, how they operate arises from how people in those institutions operate and how they think and act. As Albert Einstein said, "We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
- Andile Ncontsa is the CEO of Litha Communications (www.litha-communications.co.za). In addition to communications and public relations, Litha consults on corporate social investment, stakeholder management, sustainability, dialogue and social mobilisation.
- This is Part One of a Four Part Series: Part Two: The growth and emergence of the South African Nanny State; Part Three: Valuing Community Assets for Social Development; Part Four: Putting it together – The Golden Triangle of Social Development.
In keeping with the spirit of good governance thousands of nonprofit organisations will need to consider production of an “Ethical Fundraising and Investment Policy”.
Some will argue that donors don’t ask for a policy so why bother. But this policy is not just about ‘what the donor wants’, it’s about transparency and accountability and those involved within and outside the organisation. It’s important to write processes and procedures down and state the organisations’ ethos to how it manages donations and cautiously considers its investments.
Policies relating to ethical fundraising should be designed with not only the donor in mind but integrated with other quality management systems.
It’s believed that less than 10 percent of the 120 000 nonprofits in the country will have these guidelines in place and only one percent will adhere.
So what kind of ‘ics' are you applying; economical or ethical when it comes to sustainability of your cause. Are you only concerned about economic survival regardless of how it’s achieved or do you apply principles and moral fiber in your fundraising practice?
Donors are becoming skeptical of nonprofit organisations and want to know how you are raising funds and managing your investments. They even want to know background details of board members and senior managers, they seek reassurance that their money is spent in a responsible manner and that business is being done in an open and honest way – a written fundraising policy can allay fears or suspicions.
High profile organisations such as, Save the Children, Greenpeace, Lion Alert and Rhodes University post their fundraising principles onto their website for members of the public to view. This is an ideal opportunity to engage with stakeholders about how your NPO wisely considers its donations.
Board members and trustees are also searching for ways to strengthen fundraising knowledge; they often feel frustrated by their fundraisers and don’t always understand how they operate. If this is the case then it’s even more urgent to craft a policy. As one board member said, “Fundraising (in my organisation) is a bit like tap dancing without a choreographer”.
A number of strong motivators exist for creating a policy to uphold standards and ethics, especially if a dispute arises or there’s confusion over territory which is a common problem for NPOs with a national footprint like the Cancer Association of South Africa with over 50 care centres and several ongoing fundraising campaigns. There might be issues such as brand protection and reputational risks, especially if you are tempted to accept donations from dubious companies or characters, guidelines need to be present.
Imagine how appalled the world would be if the Treatment Action Campaign accepted funds from manufacturers of antiretroviral medicines after aggressively campaigning the South Africa government for universal access to free AIDS treatment. And what if a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre received a new vehicle from a brewery emblazoned with beer brands and advertisements. It would be difficult to respect and trust such an organisation.
The Salvation Army made a resolution 12 years ago not to apply to the Lotto for funds as it was a game of chance (gambling), unchristian and caused severe economic distress with the families wherein they worked. They are very proud of taking this stand and make it known to their supporters. Another Christian organisation, The Leprosy Mission also chose to not approach the Lotto, they too continue to raise sufficient funds, and in fact 90 perfect of their income comes from individuals.
Common elements of a fundraising policy should incorporate;
- Your acceptance policy - who you won’t accept money from. Such as the usual suspects - pharmaceutical, gambling, human trafficking, animal experimentation, tobacco and alcohol;
- Do you adhere to the International Fundraising Principles or the SAIF Code of Professional Ethics, especially concerning issues around finder’s fee or commission payments on amounts raised?
- If you are registered as a Public Benefit Organisation with South African Revenue Service and comply with the Non-Profit Organisations Act?
- Outline donor rights and how you will recognise your donors, and the turnaround time for writing thank you letters and receipting donations;
- What the conditions will be for naming rights to a building or a project;
- Let your supporters and beneficiaries know how you follow green and ethical investment policies aligned to your mission, values and ethos.
- Profile how you partner with companies or government and if there’s a need for a contract to be drawn-up (important if you’re receiving sponsorship, entering a cause related marketing deal or bidding for tenders);
- State how you will work with fundraising consultants, if at all.
- Also mention in this document, if you’re a nationwide structure, how fundraising functions on a national and regional level – there’s enough competition out there without internally competing for donors.
There have been a number of cases of non-compliance with fundraising policies such as:
- Four children’s charities were named beneficiaries of a glitzy night of the stars. During the event a sports car was auctioned for a couple of million, the highest bid came from the owner of a sleazy striptease club! Two of the beneficiaries refused to accept proceeds from the auction but the other two organisations banked the cheque;
- During Muammar Gaddafi’s reign as President of the African Union a humanitarian organisation based in South Africa accepted an invitation to visit Libya for leadership training of one of its directors. This was not only in contradiction of their resource acquisition policy but against their human rights principles;
- The National Obesity Forum, a charity in the United Kingdom which works to reduce obesity and educate school children about healthy diets received £50 000 from Coca Cola for research into low-calorie, artificial sweeteners. One of the trustees negotiated the grant with full approval from the board to accept the money. It appears that this was against their own policy;
- A New Zealand children’s charity, KidsCan, benefitted from US$2 million during a TV telethon campaign for the purchase of raincoats made by Adidas in a Chinese factory that used under-aged children as cheap labour. This was in violation of New Zealand labour laws and caused uproar.
- Often management will push a fundraising team to meet targets without any regard to how funds are solicited – this is an unfortunate attitude that emanates from charities working under pressure, more so those in the welfare sector. They justify this approach and say ‘needs must’ but remember “He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon”.
- Goggle sites to view fundraising policies:
- Ann Bown is a fundraising and sustainability consultant to nonprofit organisations.
- Finding Win-win Alternatives
The latter part of 2006 has seen much media coverage of civil society’s concerns with the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). Much of the coverage centred on the issue of late or non-payments of funds to NGOs and the related risk that certain facilities and/or services to poor and marginalised people would be suspended.
The NLDTF has become an emotive and contentious issue for civil society in South Africa. The funds available for distribution to charities are public money - money earned from the sale of tickets that also gives LOTTO players the opportunity to win millions of Rand in prize money for as little as R2.50.
The NLDTF also provides a chance for a better life to those who don’t buy tickets, in other words, charities or NGOs. The NLDTF, through its Distributing Agencies (DA), allocates money to civil society organisations working in the fields of development, sports, religion, culture and the arts.
In the past few months there has been much media coverage and other civil society initiatives to hold the NLDTF accountable for its poor functioning. Examples of allegations against the NLDTF include its delay in appointing the Charities Distribution Agency, its failure to call for proposals from civil society in 2006 and its breach of contracts with funded organisations in failing to disburse payments as outlined in grant agreements.
Implications of Legal Action
In the past few weeks, events have progressed to calls by a number of actors within civil society to take the NLDTF to court over the late or non-payment of promised funds.
The aforementioned proposed course of action raises a number of questions. What constitutes the appropriate action in this situation? Do we as civil society leaders throw our weight behind an initiative to take the NLDTF to court on the basis of failing to deliver adequate administrative justice to grant recipients? What implications will this have for organisations that are solely funded by the NLDTF? What implications does this kind of action have on the unity of the sector? What will the impact of such action be on the ticket buying public? And finally, are there any other options to bring and hold the NLDTF accountable to civil society?
The prospect of a court challenge and mass public mobilisation along the lines of the TAC’s campaign of a few years ago can represent an appropriate strategy. However, we need to be more cautious and acknowledge that in this matter, the issue of public opinion can be a double edged sword that carries the risk of hurting the sector as much as hurting the NLDTF.
Public confidence in the NLDTF is paramount to its success. People need to believe that it is managed fairly and that there exists an honest chance to win a sizeable amount of money, which will give them financial independence and change their lives according to their desires. There is also the expectation that if one does not win the jackpot, that at least the money is going towards a good cause and to those less fortunate who need the support to maintain a certain level of human dignity.
Moves to paint the NLDTF in a poor light - as any court action will do, in the public mind at least - will ultimately undermine confidence to the point of reducing ticket sales and by consequence, the amount of money available for distribution to civil society.
Is this really the objective of civil society leaders that are pushing for court action against the NLDTF?
Civil society organisations also need to bear in mind that the application process and format for funding to the NLDTF are much easier than for most other local and foreign donors. The NLDTF does not set onerous conditions on grants and in general, it is one of the more operationally efficient donor agencies in the country, based on the amounts disbursed and the number of staff employed to perform these tasks.
Lobbying for Legislative Change
There are equally effective and less damaging means of bringing and holding the NLB and NLDTF accountable. Means that allow civil society activists to make use of the powers of parliamentary portfolio committees, mechanisms and channels that allow us to push for the creation of regulations that will govern the operational aspects of the NLB and NLDTF. If successful, this course of action will be instrumental in devising long-term solutions to the administration of the NLDTF, create systems that would ensure the appropriate functioning of the NLDTF and integrate civil society inputs into the NLDTF’s operations.
The NLB and NLDTF are essentially accountable to Parliament through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and it is therefore possible to propose a motion for the creation of regulations that will address current civil society concerns about the NLDTF funding issue. The amendment or creation of regulations can enable the passage of stipulations requiring clear time-frames for an annual call for proposals, for the appointment of the DA’s, for acknowledgement of receipt of applications, as well as for a maximum time for grant review and approval. Regulations can also be put in place to have a defined appeal process and to even specify the maximum time frame for payment of approved grants.
It is therefore possible that current civil society concerns and frustrations over the operation of the NLDTF can be addressed without the need for a damaging and costly court action through utilising existing legislative and parliamentary processes at minimal cost and with outcomes that meet the needs of civil society and the people we serve.
The National Welfare Social Service and Development Forum (NWSSDF) is committed to a collaborative approach in this matter, an approach that meets the needs of civil society, an approach that engages the state in dialogue and an approach that engenders greater collaboration with other civil society organisations. Our combined individual and organisational skills, knowledge and expertise are required to make the right approach and achieve a positive outcome.
- Rajesh Latchman is national coordinator at National Welfare Social Service and Development Forum.
Endorse This Initiative
The NWSSDF is keen to ascertain civil society’s support for this initiative. You may endorse their proposal to resolve the NLDTF funding problems through parliamentary channels by submitting your name and indicating your endorsement through the comment module below. Please indicate clearly that you are endorsing the initiative.
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Picture courtesy of Moore’s Law.
- The NLDTF – Grappling with Grantmaking (http://www.ngopulse.org/url/5rt)
- CRAFT- NPOs Discuss Their Lotto Concerns (http://www.ngopulse.org/url/5ru)
- Ta ta ma chance – bye bye the charity (http://www.ngopulse.org/url/5rv)
- Query Arising from Excellent Article on NLDTF (http://www.ngopulse.org/url/5rw)
- Fundraising Forecast 2007 (http://www.ngopulse.org/url/5rx)
Take control of the way you market your NGO to funders - today.
For those of us who can't afford expensive advertising, marketing and communications services, there is a solution that promises to be equally rewarding. It's really simple - start sharing the amazing stories and best practice emerging from the work you're doing (we all know that NGOs do fantastic and meaningful work!).
In today's fast-moving, deadline-driven world, we can be forgiven for being preoccupied simply with getting the work done. However, while good results are important, it is just as important that these results translate into financial reward and recognition. Of course, it is not a matter of profiteering (if you're in the NGO sector, you're not in it for the money).
But the simple truth is that you need funding - as means of ensuring that your good work can continue; that you become ‘sustainable’. This is true for any business, but in the world of the NGO, it is doubly so.
A really simple way to ensure that the money comes in is to share your results and successes through story-telling and story-writing, and then to broadcast the stories through basic communication channels such as your website and social media. In this way, you can reach not only funders (potential and existing), but also friends, colleagues, communities and other stakeholders.
Really, it's just like advertising, but with a higher purpose, a sharper focus and more endearing content. It is the opportunity to showcase your organisation in the best way possible, and to get in touch with the people who are only too eager to support your endeavours.
If you share your stories in a planned and calculated way, not only will you soon begin to enjoy the direct benefits of a well-marketed organisation (people talking about you; a place in the public eye), but you will also begin to change the way in which you market yourself in everyday conversations... "You're interested in knowing how we've been making a difference in this area recently? Visit our website - we have a really good example of how we're reducing poverty levels in the community through our entrepreneurship programme," or, ".thanks, that's really interesting feedback - right now, we have an online debate happening on our blog, and I think I'll mention what you said, there. I'm sure it'll spark some interesting comments and will add some value".
Clearly, with a new, refocused marketing strategy and rollout, you can make much better use of the circles you move in, and your focus on targeting and connecting with the right people takes on a whole new dimension. To put it simply, you have a much greater chance of reaching people who have the ability to give you the funding you need. It makes sense, doesn't it?
But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The first thing you're going to have to deal with is the voice in your head that says "I don't have the time for this" or "this is for someone else to do" or "it's too complicated to put into place". Do you have the grit and the drive to get beyond that conversation?
If this sounds daunting, do not despair. The longer you focus on this "do-it-yourself" marketing model, the more natural it will begin to feel. Take the first step, and stick at it. People will soon be able to see the impact your NGO is making.
Remember, as an NGO you are making a huge difference out there, and a seemingly small success story (if communicated well) can inspire a mass readership to take action. And don't forget - there are many people out there who are willing to support you in all kinds of ways.
To sum up:
1. Take your stories and successes - no matter how small you think they are - and share them;
2. Make use of the technology and infrastructure out there to broadcast those stories (and plan to do this regularly!).
- Michael Poole works for Bay Moon Communications.