The issue of funding has become by far one of the most challenging for non-profits or NGOs in Nigeria especially with the global financial crisis which rocked the world from 2007. Funding is the blood line of any NGO because it must implement projects aimed at achieving its positive impact goals for the greater good of the society. Most non-profits set goals that are geared towards development in different areas that affect daily life, running the gamut from provision of basic needs to humanitarian aid and advocacy. Thus, funds are needed every now and then to implement projects made visible through campaigns or initiatives in a bid to make impact in line with its focus area. Considering the rigours involved with getting funds, non-profits limit themselves to a few options. However, the new generation non-profits are limitless with regard to funding sources and opportunities.
A large percentage of the funds received by local non-profits are derived from individual donors. In this case, individuals may pick an interest, or can be passionate about their cause, and thus they will be moved to contribute funds to the NGO. More so, individual donors serve as a link between non-profits and their beneficiaries because they will go to great lengths to assure themselves that they are contributing to a credible campaign. Mostly, while attracting funds from individual donors, non-profits get a mix of low and high level donors. One must learn to manage them strategically all the same.
Funds contributed by individual donors go a long way to make sure that a non-profit is up and running as they are very likely to sustain the initiatives for as long as their passion and interests endure. Hence, funding garnered through individual donors is characteristically recurrent in most cases. By far, individual donors remain a significant medium of fundraising, and can equally aid in expanding the network of non-profits as some of the individuals may own foundations or know other individuals who do.
Amidst all the negativity associated with Internet finance and the Internet in its entirety, the world has indeed become a better place for non-profits. The Internet has been exploited by well-meaning organisations whose intention it is to ease access to funding by creating an enabling platform for non-profits to solicit funding through crowd donations. This has developed the “nouvelle” social sector term we have come to know as crowdfunding. In this case, non-profits can raise funds by simply appealing to the understanding and sympathy of a large group of charitable individuals who believe that their campaign is credible. Additionally, non-profits gain the advantage of bypassing the rigours of grant-making. Noteworthy examples of crowdfunding platforms include Gofundme, Youcaring and Global Giving. It is very advisable for non-profits to explore such platforms as they can aid immensely with funding.
Grant is perhaps one of the most explored sources of funding for non-profits locally and internationally. From time to time, the government disburses grants for development purposes. Grants are generally non-payable funds made available to non-profits for initiatives that go in line with the funder’s action plan. Thus, non-profits can get to tap into this source of funding by taking advantage of the skill of grant-making or writing.
Since government grants aid locally designed projects and campaigns immensely, it has become a predominant option of funding as many non-profits have come to rely on it. Deficits in sectors such as education, health care, and infrastructure have resulted in rising government attention towards the social sector. Some examples you may come across are Youwin, SURE-P and YES. Don’t panic if you cannot secure one as soon as you can because these grant windows open from time to time. In other words, always scout for government grant opportunities for non-profits.
By a good margin, grant-making foundations are the most reliable source of funding for non-profits. Both locally and internationally, a little percentage of funds received by non-profits are derived from grant-making foundations. This is primarily because funding is specific in most cases. A majority of these grant-making foundations establish and maintain focus areas, thus they operate by disbursing funds to non-profits within that scope. Grant-making foundations could be operated by corporate entities or individuals, either way their mode of operations and grant-disbursing model do not differ.
Through grant-making foundations, many non-profits have been able to make visible scalable impact in the society as projects are subjected to appropriate monitoring and evaluation. Hence, non-profits are duty bound to make impact as far as grants are made available.
The non-profit space keeps expanding as much as the needs of underserved individuals and communities. As this expansion takes place, non-profits should also take advantage of the wide spectrum of opportunities made available by a variety of funding sources. This source of funding, however, is what some refer to as corporate giving. In essence, corporations disburse funds or organise fundraising events through their own foundations. However, it is not different from private foundations in terms of the grant-making process involved as a matter of necessity.
As a new generation non-profit, there are multiple advantages made available through a myriad of funding sources. A non-profit can thrive even in the hardest of times as a result, and can make that impact very visible. It is pertinent to always have a strategy or funding model in order to enable access to funding for non-profits when it is needed the most. Furthermore, every non-profit must strive to establish and sustain a culture of accountability as this assures funders that their money is converted into significant impact.
Ms Osayi Alile is CEO ACTS Foundation, Lagos
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