…5 things you must do
After successfully raising over $30million in direct and indirect funding, and training through 1000 nonprofit organizations and social impact businesses, I can tell you that ‘ACCESS TO FUNDING’ is one of the significant perceived assumptions facing nonprofits impact-driven organizations.
The right question you should ask is ‘’AM I FUNDABLE’?
Do I have what it takes for an international or indigenous organization to trust our work and ultimately fund it?
Below are significant reasons why you struggle to Access Funds and what you need to do differently.
- Have a Clear Strategy: 70% of nonprofits struggle with direction and clarity. Nonprofits cannot solve every development problem facing our generation. Like the superhuman you are, you fly in and begin to meet your demography’s diverse needs. You are often doing so without a plan, a growth strategy, and a direction. So what happens? Suddenly you get buried under the weight of it all, and doing good becomes a channel for satisfaction.
What do I do? You must have a clearly articulated strategy plan. One that states what exactly you need to focus on each quarter, information on whom you serve, one that details how you can increase your value proposition, marketing, and brand positioning? Yes! You read right. All the technicalities of growth that apply to a business also apply to you.
- Financial Reporting. How healthy are your books? When was the last time you audited your accounts? Are you so focused on your organization’s daily operations that you forget to review your financial health and progress intermittently?
What you need to do is Evaluate! It is time to evaluate your organization financially. Do you have an annual operational budget complete with forecasting? What does it cost you to run each program and activity? How much should you be fundraising for? Who is your biggest donor? What must you cut down from your expenses?
An accurate report of your financial position is what helps potential donors decide if you are fundable or not.
- Show Me, Don’t Tell M Oftentimes, nonprofits are encouraged to tell better stories but telling stories is not enough. We must see a track record. Evidence to show that because of the work that you do, lives are positively impacted. Mastering the use of Data and how to present it to potential partners and sponsors will accord credibility to the work that you do and provide a tangible reason why anyone should fund you.
- Be Visible. Do not do phenomenal work and then hide it behind closed doors. Your ability to share impact stories, reports, growth, and track record will play a pivotal role in your Visibility can improve your organization’s credibility. Let me ask a few questions. What platforms are you active on? What do your social media pages look like? Have you prepared your impact reports and research findings to increase your thought leadership further? It is imperative when attempting to access funds because funding agencies will carry out their due diligence to measure your digital presence and how much visibility and access you can provide for the work they do.
Visibility also includes stepping away from your comfort zone to make introductions and increase your connections. Yes, COVID happened, and you may be tempted to remain behind the keypads-don’t! Step away from your space and request connection meetings with possible partners from anywhere in the world.
- When Fundraising, you must seek out partners with an aligned vision. The first key to approaching potential funders, Is to ensure that the values of both organizations align. Without an aligned vision, funding may be difficult and, if accessed, may lead to a significant disaster in the future. Look for mission-aligned investment or funding opportunities whose goal you can relate with, and you will be actively involved in helping them achieve theirs so you can inadvertently achieve yours.
- Above all, you MUST pace yourself. The ability to truthfully dissect the organization you currently lead and decide when is the right time to build internally? To generate the impact, so you have a solid reason to request to be funded. You must also try your hands at the low-hanging fruits. Search out finance or grant opportunities that provide you with a unique opportunity to fundraise. Apply for opportunities for as low as $500. It does; it strengthens and improves your writing skills and provides you with a chance to find out what documentations are required as you continue to build your enterprise.
One important point I must share with you as we wrap up, Is that you need to understand that funding is not about you. Not about your wants or needs. It is always about the requirements of the funder. Once that need is identified and aligns with your vision, it becomes easier to convince potential partners to come on board your projects.
It’s not always easy keeping up with tight timelines and the ever-changing world of fundraising; this is why it is essential to focus on your strategy as this guides your overall results.
I will leave you with Abraham Lincoln’s words ‘’ Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, I will spend 4 hours sharpening my Axe’’.
The writer is the Founder, Donors for Africa Foundation, where she works actively with Governments, funding institutions, the private sector, NGO’s and social impact leaders to break cycles of poverty by addressing the global challenges we face in Africa. Donors for Africa (DFA) has raised over $30M in direct and indirect funding, trained over 1000+ nonprofits, and reaches over 31,000 individual accounts weekly via their social media platforms.