When you access the first page of many NGOs now, one of the things that strikes you, is the “DONATE NOW”. At times I ask myself if in the African context, it is the best way to raise funds for projects. First because the currency is generally in US dollars or pounds, which are not accessible to the majority of the population. Secondly, internet scums have caused people to be suspicious about the reliability of online fundraising. Thirdly, the access to internet to look for donation opportunity is a myth in Africa; from my observation, internet in Africa is mostly for downloading music, video, Google, online shopping and for scholars, to do research. Personally, I have never gone to the internet to look-up how to support an Organization financially.
During my research I noticed that there are various ways used to raise funds by NGOs. I will not have the pretense of listing all of them, but to give a global view of the most common fundraising strategies.
A principal or multiple funders contribute at times 100% of the money to run the NGOs; so if the funder stops giving, the NGOs run out.
Running activities in the communities like cleaning, washing cars and others, to collect some money to support the project. When all this is done, it needs a lot of creativity to run another activity to raise funds. If not, there might not be enough money for the project.
Marathons, semi marathons and jogging are very much used by Occidental NGOs and even their branches in Africa. The reality is: “who is going to run every day to raise money for your project?” Maybe in Europe, but in Africa, it seems an utopia.
Cultural activities organized by artists and celebrities like concerts, exhibitions of arts and theatre arts. Free most of time, funds are raised during exposures.
Celebrations such as weddings, birthdays, graduations and many others are also used to inform people about projects and solicit additional funding. Since these events are personal, they demand a close relationship with the organizer, if not, raising funds in such situations might not be well perceived.
School clubs and organizations are a good way of reaching groups of people under the cover of the associations. For this, the association will sometimes require a reward like, using its logo or name. Some associations take advantage of that to impose their conditions which at times do not match with the Vision and the Mission of the organization in need.
The pedagogical guide for successful fundraising, provided by Coordination SUD in September 2012, has proposed an action plan to raise funds based on proactivity.
According to CS, proactivity is to look for funding from donors previously identified. The tip here is that, it is the beneficiaries who perform the proactivity. Therefore, a proactive project should be settled with the participation of every stakeholder. The impact is the autonomy of the NGO.
The project determines the funders and not the reverse. That is why the funders should be people who have an interest in the outcome of the project.
The voice of the needy can be more powerful than we can imagine. Allowing them to speak and act rather than doing it for them can be very rewarding. We will focus on three aspects among the manes that can revolutionize fundraising in African NGOs.
- The funders: Who are the people in the community who will benefit from the project? They are likely those ones who will support the project. It is important to identify potential donors in the community and map a plan to reach them by the beneficiaries and not the managers only.
- The smaller the amount asked for is, the bigger the number of the people giving will be: The model of the US is well known; only one dollar per working US Citizen and America is able to finance a huge number of National and International projects. Applying this to an NGO that can reach 5,000 people in a community each month, is an annual fundraising of 60,000 US dollars.
- Capacity building: How to express a need is very important; the beneficiaries should be trained on how to communicate effectively about what they want and how they want it in simple words; people are too busy to be harassed with long sermons.
Well it seems easy… and it is! Let us start somewhere and be the witnesses of the next revolutionary fund development projects in Africa.
by Hervé-Boris NGATE, M.A