Starting a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to fight for a cause, solve a problem or advocate something, is usually exciting at the unset. However, this excitement becomes short-lived when you are unable to sustain the NGO for over a period, because of lack of funds.
One reason why NGOs could die as fast as they spring up is because a good number of persons set up NGOs first of all, to make money, and not to fight for the cause they claim to fight for. However, even when the setting up of an NGO is genuine, it will prove to be very strategic in raising funds, if the NGO will be able to keep operating.
According to a report by a leading Indian newspaper, India has possibly the largest number of active not-for-profit NGOs in the world. But at the same time a large number of NGOs in India shut down every year due to lack of funding. This is because good intentions and motivation are not enough to run an NGO. To ensure smooth running of the NGO and to achieve desired results, you need funds from various sources.
Also, with the continuous and increasing rate of folding up of NGOs and mismanagement of donor funding, most international funding bodies and individual funders are withdrawing their support from not-so reputable NGOs. This means if you are just starting an NGO, it will be an uphill task to run it even if you have the best intentions and are well motivated.
However, even if you are just starting, there are so many ways you can exploit and raise good support for your NGO. Below are just some of the most potent ones that you should exploit.
Raise Enough Awareness
As an NGO, you surely have something you are advocating for or against. It could be against hunger, unemployment, crime, illiteracy, sickness, hawking, abuse, etc. or for the rights of women, children, the girl child, the prisoners, the underprivileged, etc. Whatever your NGO cares about (your focus), needs to be communicated clearly and constantly to the people, in order to raise good awareness.
There are many ways to raise awareness about your work. Some of them include; going on air on TV or radio constantly; organizing programs; printing T-shirts for employees, friends and those you are advocating for, wear them during campaigns; making use of billboards, fliers, internet, magazines, write words of advocacy, etc.
For example, if you are concerned about child abuse, you could write a statement such as ‘Abusing A Child Destroys A Nation’ and just below it, mention the name of your NGO and address.
In raising awareness about the work you do, leave no stone unturned. Just by raising enough awareness, you will have many persons, who believe in what you are doing, come to support the work you do. This alone is a very important fund-raising strategy. Don’t operate in silence. Speak, and speak loud.
Create A Committee
While it may seem exciting to own an NGO single-handedly, it is not easy to sustain it alone. You need to get people involved if you want it to keep running. A good way to do this is to create a network of professionals who are interested in the issues your NGO is interested in, and are also financially potent to support the work.
Look for people who have some potential to support the work, and share with them what you do and how you wish they join you in the work. Let them know that, initially they will make some sacrifices but will also benefit when things get stable and fine. Bring together all those who show their interest and form a committee which meets from time to time to discuss the affairs of the NGO. You could call them advisers, mentors, patrons, matrons, etc.
Build A Referral System
As you run the NGO, have in mind that there are thousands of individuals all over the world who share the same interest as you. Unfortunately, knowing who they are and how to access them is one of the limitations you have. This is where building a referral system for your NGO, comes in.
While there are thousands of persons world over, who are interested in what you do, it will not be wise to go all over looking for who they are. You need to organize yourself so well and start from where you are providing your service and then grow to those far away.
Thus, to build a good referral system, start with those in your committee above, as well as your staff. Speak to them passionately and intelligently about the NGO, its vision, strategies, achievements so far, and other facts that anyone should be interested to have. If possible back your facts with figures and pictures so that they are more convincing. These are tools they will use to convince others to support your work. Send them out as evangelists to blow your trumpet loud. You too should go out and convince more people to support the work.
Partner With Businesses
Businesses are always looking for people to advertise what they do. And so they put aside a lot of money each year for promotional activities. While a number of big businesses can afford to pay for TV and radio ads, many small businesses cannot. These are those to target the most.
If you have the potentials to promote other businesses, they will prefer to advertise with you than to pay so much for TV and radio ads. You can do this by partnership. Some ways to do this include:
i. You can partner with a business to rent space on a billboard to advertise what you do and mention the business as one of your sponsors.
ii. You can get a number of businesses in different markets contribute to organize your advocacy programs. While you speak about your work, you give them the
opportunity to speak about their business. This idea will be bought by most emerging businesses, still trying to penetrate the market, but with much potential. If you have 5 such businesses, you will spend nothing for your program but seize the occasion as the organizer. Only make sure you use the money to sensitize more people, invite some of the target customers for those businesses.
Go For Political Figures
One good way to raise funds for your NGO is to look out for the political figures in your area of operation and get them involved in the good work you do. Most political figures are willing to spend money on anything they know will make them more popular. If you succeed to win the interest of just one very influential politician in your area of operation, it could just be the breakthrough you need.
During your programs, invite political figures and make them support your work. Don’t bother if they want to make their support public. This will be to their advantage of course, but will also bring more money to your NGO. However, be careful not to deal with political figures who have bad reputation in the society. Such persons could spoil things for you.
Note that one influential political figure could refer you to many more others.
Network With Other NGOs
NGOs that work in isolation can hardly do very much. Most successful NGOs work as teams, networking in areas of interest. When funders see that your NGO partners with other reputable NGOs, they are more apt to support what you do.
Working with other NGOs indicate that you are very serious in what you do and you are credible enough. It also shows that you have more resources to help you make maximal use of the funds you are given and do good work. Also, there are funders who will not give support to just one NGO at a time, for a particular cause. Such NGOs prefer to support other NGOs working together for a common goal. So, network with credible NGOs, doing what you do.
Go For Government Support
The governments of most countries provide support for NGOs and individuals whose work affects the lives of her citizens. The truth is that, every year, the government of your country allocates heavy sums of money to fight for what you are fighting for. Some of those who manage this money end up siphoning the money for other things just because they are short-sighted as they figure out what to do with it.
You need to find out all the possible support you can access from the government of your country.
Don’t Forget The Public
Many NGOs focus only on the very influential people and forget the public. It is far more beneficial for you to have thousands of people supporting your work than just one or two influential persons. While the one or two influential persons are not always going to be there when you need their support, you will always have the public come to your aid.
There are many ways to raise support from the public. Some of them are:
- Go to religious houses, schools, workplaces and do fundraising for the work you do.
- Organize street campaigns and move from door to door with your staff, raising funds.
- Carry out community work for your town and ask for support.
- A great way some NGOs raise funds is by planting a support box in places where many people crowd daily. For example, if your NGO is interested in sending children off the streets back to school, you could have a support box in schools, in front of banks, supermarkets, churches and shopping malls. This box is for anyone touched to put in any little amount into it to support the cause.
Such boxes could be planted over long periods and opened at the end of every week. You will be amazed how much you could generate.
Whichever of the above strategies you choose to use at any point in time, remember that you need to do fundraising in a sustainable way. You don’t have to get just one time supporters but work towards pulling in all your supporters to be part of what you do, so that their support could be for a longer time.
Raising funds for your NGO has to be well organized and not just done anyhow. From the above, you see that all the strategies can only work well if you are actually using the funds you raise to do praise worthy work. This is the most important thing in raising funds for your NGO.