Unseen Hierarchies

I sat in a funding meeting once with the Donor and a NPO we had partnered with, to do a particular project. Some history on this meeting, to set the scene; this project had taken me two years of research before even proposing it to anyone. In the end, I was offered funding by two different companies.  It was an exciting project, innovative and ground breaking.  After a lot of deliberation I had already turned down one of the donors, and was sitting in the meeting with the other donor. So in the meeting the donor looks at the proposal that he has agreed to and starts adding his own ideas, none of which would work for the project we wanted to implement, and would turn our project into something it was never meant to be. My NPO partner straight away started agreeing with the donor. The heat rose in my face, I was thinking how on earth I was going to manage to ask the other donor for the money again.  I was horrified that the other NPO leader was so easily swayed.  I decided I had to put my foot down – I really had nothing to lose with that donor.  I told him the reasons it would work my way and why his additions would not.   He listened and agreed.  The money, and respect, was ours.  If I had bent to his wishes we would have had a failed project and would have to explain to the donor why we did not deliver.  Not all money offers are worth taking.

Too long have the NPO’s been walking around with a begging bowl to see what scraps of funding they can gather, from whoever they can amass them from. This has resulted in an unseen hierarchy.  Businesses and Donors lord over NPO’s often dictating what they do in their programs, without understanding the “client” (the beneficiary).  NPO’s need to come to the realisation, truly realising, in their hearts, that they are the expert in their field. They know their community, their beneficiary, their cause, their social ill, inside and out.  They dedicate their lives to researching and resolving it. The outcome of their hard work is not a trade-able commodity and therefore they require donors to fund their work. Donors who hate the issue but are not called to do the work with the beneficiary directly become part of the solution by providing the funds to run the business of the NPO.   That is how the relationship works best.  Both are parties that that want to see the same result.  One is a capitalist venture that is there to make money, and as much of it as possible, and change the world for the better.  The other exists to care for the less fortunate, or voiceless and to change the world for the better.  The end goal is the same.  Let’s play to our strengths and find the right partners to do so.

On Target

Our second NPO Conference was hosted on 26 May 2017, with a great success. Forty different NPO’s from the Durban area came together for a day of mutual learning and networking around the topic of Marketing.  The conference was TARGET themed, creating an environment which helped the NPO leaders to start figuring out what their own “targets” are in their fundraising efforts.

We were fortunate to hear from actual donors; Norman Dorkin (who gives of his personal money into NPO efforts), David Gould (a director of three companies who give into registered PBO’s), and Kudzai Mqingwana (the CSI Manager for Sibaya Development Trust).  They shed light on what they donate toward, how you can attract their funding and what they want in return.

Other insightful speakers offered their expertise in the field of marketing.  Mia Ludick delivered a great introduction setting us up for thinking about our different targets.  Yasmin Kathoria from Innate Motion delved deeper into where companies, and especially fortune 500 companies, are going with their marketing strategies and what marketing is going to look like in five years.  This creates great opportunities for NPO’s to present campaigns and gain funding from these companies. Natalie Hopkins, Large Architects Marketing manager, and Michelle Govender, Bright Spark Communications founder, spent the most part of the afternoon attempting the mammoth task of sharing the basics of marketing so that the NPO’s could pick their next approach.

All-in-all the day was well received and we have had many organisations send their letters of appreciation.  A big thank you to our sponsors who made the day a success, Style Eyes of California and VUM.  We really appreciate what your companies are doing in the effort to make Durban all it is meant to be! 

Our next conference will be mid-August and focusing on the Organisational Structure and Administration aspects.  Sadly, in our rush of service delivery we forget the importance of our behind the scenes work and this inhibits our ability to attract great long term partners. We hope this conference will shed some light on simple, effective ways of making sure you achieve sustainability.

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