Sustainable NGOs: A Director’s Guide 1

funding leadership ngos sustainability
Tuesday, 1 August, 2006 - 11:38

Part One: Getting the Funding You Want

You want more funding? Apply to save the world, not just pay salaries, argues Errol Goetsch, founder of the XE4 Foundation, a nonprofit management consultancy.

Errol Goetsch’s Director’s Guide to SEXI NGO’s (Susainable, Excellent and Impactful)

Not enough funding?

Blaming donors or government feels good, but working harder and smarter gets results! Help donors to help you! Unless you ask for what you want, donors can’t give it to you. The non-profit sector, unlike government and business, is packed with people-pleasers wanting to say yes. Donors want to give. Administrators are paid to give. Go big. Your small application means more work to move the rest by year-end. Your big application clears their tray faster.

If you’re good, say so!

Donors don’t know you’re good unless you tell them. Donors don’t audit like they should, so dishonest NGO’s who claim too much squeeze out humble NGO’s who claim too little. Proof? Lovelife got R200 million a year for the impossible promise to halve HIV incidence in SA by 2004. If an arrogant and competitive NGO that hides weak theory, bad practice and zero impact with dodgy statistics and media spin can still exist, imagine how much more your well-run organisation, with honest people, proven formula and genuine projects deserves.

Be bold!

All donors are generous, few NGO’s are assertive. Are you giving enough donors enough chances to give enough for long enough? If your fundraiser lacks confidence and ambition, no. Squeezing the same funders all the time? A fear of rejection from strangers exhausts generosity by asking friends too much. Get confident and get new donors. Asking for less money or shorter terms than the donor can give? The fear of failure wastes generosity by asking friends too little. Get ambitious and get big money, rolled over 5 to 10 years.

Be strong!

Yes, donors have the money, but you have the project, and they need your results. Money is plentiful, good projects are rare. Never go cheap. Donors want you to succeed and will pay for success. Funding is trading: you are swapping the credit after the project for their cash before the project.

Fix your structure!

Funding problems show management flaws. Asking the Board or Director to fetch the funding? No, get a marketing manager! Too few new donors and income? Marketing! Fund-raiser shy, anxious and fears rejection or failure? HR! Donors don’t renew funding? Operations! Under-budgeted projects and head office? Finance! Didn’t budget for problems? Risk! Didn’t reach the community? Facilities! Weak products and services? Programmes! Didn’t finish on time? Projects! No impact? Quality! Your projects don’t address problems and offer solutions? Research and Development! Poor reports? IT and MIS! Weak managers?  Director! Weak or overloaded Director? Board! Weak Board? CEO! Earning too little? Fix strategy! Spending too much! Fix operations!

Tips for Executive Directors:

  • Face Facts. Your NGO is earning what it deserves. Change what you deserve;
  • Decide your destiny. Apply to 5X more donors, for 5X as much and 5X as long;
  • Prevent failure. Recruit people who are naturally confident and ambitious, tell them to sell the truth;
  • Recognise failure. Your NGO should look good, do good, and feel good. If not, make changes;
  • Reject failure. Reward marketers for winning new donors and income and replace those who can’t;
  • Learn from failure. Don’t fight the financial symptoms, solve the management causes;
  • Delegate Success.  Director sets the target. Operations drafts the proposal. Marketing fetches the money;
  • Deserve Success. Donors want you to solve social problems, not just address them. Aim high, go big;
  • Negotiate for Success. Asking for a fixed amount goes wrong 2 times in 3 (too much or too little). Submit budgets that are scalable (e.g. every R1000 feeds a child) so donors can choose their amount;
  • Structure for Success. A fixed salary with no rewards or penalties sends marketers the wrong message.

For more refer to, - Errol Goetsch.

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