What non-profits accomplish with limited resources, thanks to their dedication, efforts and perseverance, can sometimes look like a miracle.
One of the most usual issues they face is the lack of financial sustainability. Many organisations are greatly dependent on a limited number of donors, and have to follow funding models that leave little space for investment. They walk a tight rope, sometimes without knowing if they will be able to implement their activities or pay salaries, let alone to face the unexpected.
Obviously, the last thing we can think about in this case is investing in something that is not directly linked to implementing our activities. This is how a vicious circle is formed, where many organisations are blocked, without a possibility to grow, increase or improve their sustainability or their impact.
The biggest responsibility lies on the funding structures, based on projects and not much interested in organisational development, with highly rigid and increasingly technical budget structures, favouring the biggest and more solid entities.
Provoking a change in this is difficult. But NGOs can start by taking a few simple measures that, step by step, will start breaking this vicious circle that constantly puts their work in danger. The solution is opting for low-cost formulas, that will obviously not have a spectacular and immediate impact, but that will help create a solid foundation.
- Plan: Answering indiscriminately all funding opportunities, trying to fit our projects in appeals that don’t correspond, improvising fundraising actions… invariably lead to a loss of time and resources. We need to think about what we want to obtain in the coming years, and how to get there. This is no easy task. It requires exchanges with different stakeholders, a realistic analysis of the organisation’s possibilities, of existing opportunities, tendencies…
- Get help: Not only money matters. There are numerous opportunities for organisations to receive support. Obviously, this implies being ready to get supported, and not wanting things to happen for free and without efforts…
- Start including support/fundraising costs in our budgets: Donors do not only fund medication or salaries. They might also be ready to fund support activities: consultancy, external support, training…
- Change the way we think: The world has changed and the field of solidarity is no exception. Organisations are expected to implement projects with a certain level of financial sustainability, or even to generate income. Strategic alliances, social enterprises… are booming sectors that are changing the system. We have no choice but to adapt: “We are an NGO” is no longer an excuse.
- Benefit from online activities: Globalisation has brought hardships, but also opportunities. Let’s use them. Internet is an entrance door to your current and potential clients, and possibly for the future clients of your social products. But be careful, these tools are demanding and use constantly evolving techniques and languages, and it is easy to fall behind.
If your organisation wishes to receive support or orientation, please do not hesitate to contact us. Camaleo is a non-profit that helps social entities to become more sustainable and to increase their impact. Looking forward to continuing this discussion with you!