Local Fund Raising – The Art and Science

Raising funds to achieve one’s mission or Fundraising, is one of the most crucial function for any non profit organisation and yet, is rated as one of the most challenging functions as well. This is equivalent of sales for the corporate sector – just that here a social cause is being sold to potential donors (customers in corporate parlance). Possibly, this is the reason that we get to see numerous articles, dedicated websites and even books written on the topic. There are even specialised agencies that support non profits with this need of theirs.

Recently, I was engaged by a leading Indian organisation, to conduct a session for their partner NGO organisations leadership on the topic of Local Fund Raising (LFR). Local Fund Raising -in simple terms is fund raising from within the country where the organisation operates. LFR is an area which is gaining more and more importance in India, with country’s improving global status. India today is not just a receiver of grants,but a donor to certain low income countries as well. It is considered as an emerging economic power by several International donors who has striked off its name from the preferred countries list for grant making. Several Bilateral agencies who used to fund larger projects  on education, HIV or Health have discontinued or  have shifted  their focus out of country.  On the positive side, increasing number of Indian middle class is seeing leaders and billionaires emerging with struggle and hard work, having seen the hardships and being able to associate with social issues.

Lively discussions and engaging interactions at the training program inspired me to pen down the thoughts, in benefit of a larger audience out there. The training program was focussed on enabling the participants and their organisations to reduce the dependency on foreign funding and actively exploring the potential monetary support within India. Many of the participating organisations were completely or majorly dependent on global donors in past and were struggling with increasing scrutiny and tightening of norms on FCRA. Its high time that these and similar organisations across the country accept this changing reality – A new breed of High Potential Donor (HPD) class emerging and there are corporate who by choice or by obligation are coming forward to donate a portion of their profits towards social cause. Second step after acceptance of this reality is to prepare oneself to make the best use of the situation.

The trick of local fund raising really lies in treating fundraising as an art on one hand, needing creativity and personal touch and science on the other hand, needing systematic approach, tools and techniques to get the right results. Some of the key principles of successful fundraising that emerged out of the discussions are as below:

  1. It’s a systematic management process – Planning, Strategizing, Decision making, Organising, Leading and Controlling.
  2. Innovation and Creativity is essential – With huge demand and limited supply, organisations have to be creative enough to attract right attention of donors
  3. It’s a team work – A big eye opener for all in the training program was that fund raising is not a one man’s job and each person in organisation has a role to play towards fund raising.
  4. It goes hand in hand with communication – With increasing social media presence in our lives, ability to leverage these technologies to be able to effectively connect and communicate with existing and potential donors works to organisation’s advantage
  5. Anyone can be a donor – Another myth which was busted for the participants was that only a certain type of people / organisation can become a donor. From a roadside vendor to the richest man of the country, each person has a donor in him.
  6. FR is Friend Raising – Its not a mechanical process but a relationship building process, based on trust. If you target to raise relationships, funds will come after you.

Mr Swatantra Gupta, GM Corporate Partnership at Smile Foundation who was present during the session said, “I personally see fundraising full of creativity and innovation. Working in the fundraising domain for NGOs over a decade, has helped me visualize life beyond numbers. It is so extra-ordinary for a fundraiser to know that his sales pitch shall eventually bring cheer to hundreds and thousands of people in need. This feeling is awesome”.

By : Manju Menon

Share this Insight