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Robert Amoako, Ghana Book Trust
Fund-Raising and Resource Mobilization has to be understood within the general context of self-reliance and sustainable development. It is very crucial, that as African Non-Governmental Organisations (N.G.O.s) Managers, one should see the two activities as a means to an end, and not an end in itself. The end result is that, the quality of life of the people and community, and eventually the country as a whole should be improved. It is the process of improvement which necessitates the search for funds and resources, hence the issue of Fund-Raising and Resource Mobilisation both as concepts and practices. Fund-Raising is serious business and has to be taken as such.
Fund-Raising: The process of acquiring money to invest into or use for any developmental activity. Resource Mobilisation: The process of acquiring resources, other than money, which would be used in activities to promote development.
2. Source & Methods of Fund-Raising
There are several methods and sources by which money can be obtained for development work. For the N.G.O. in Africa, people sometimes limit themselves to a few orthodox avenues. But the net can be spread to cover non-orthodox avenues also.
(i) Local Income-Generating Activities
These are those which are performed by Groups or Associations NGOs to raise money, eg. Sponsored Walks, Film Shows, Football Matches, Charcoal Production, Dinner Dances, Harvest Sales, etc. etc.
(ii) Local Public Appeals
Local Companies, within the public sector, could be approached for sponsorship for some project activities. Some public companies include: Electricity Corporation, Telephone & Telecom, Water and Sewerage, Banks, Insurance Companies, State Transport Corporation, National Airlines, Shipping Companies.
(iii) Local Private Appeals
Local private companies, which are doing good business, and want to promote corporate image eg. Breweries, Tobacco Companies, Textile Companies, Banking Institutions, Insurance Companies, Mining Companies, Timber Firms, Bottling Companies, Electronic Companies, Hotels and Restaurants, Fast Food Chains, Printing Houses.
(iv) Local Foreign Companies Appeals
Representatives of Foreign companies locally, who are in good business eg. Telephone (Cellular phones), Mining, Transport and Vehicles, Pharmaceuticals ,etc.
(v) Foreign Public/Private Appeals
Sending proposals to foreign public and private organisations. In order to have maximum effect, one should have had previous contact or certain criteria for those organisations. Most times, sponsorship information of previous project is helpful.
(vi) Local Embassies
They all have what is termed "Embassy Small Project Fund" which is administered locally by the Ambassador. It is very important to know what the criteria of operation is and within sectors. Some have limits of up to US$5,000-US$25,000. Very good chance to explore. Get information brochure and study.
(vii) United Nation Agencies
There are specialised agencies of United Nations, eg. UNDP, FAO, UNICEF, UNIDO, World Food Programme, UNFPA, etc. They have good working relationships with NGOs. Most of the time, they also have some specialised projects going on eg. Africa 2000 Programme (Environment), Global Environment Facility, Food for Work, etc. Get to know these and do your contacts. Personal contacts is very important.
(vii) Donor Community
There are usually a host of International, bi-lateral and multi-lateral organisations, which would be willing and able to support good projects in the country. Some of these include:
- The World Bank & International Development Agency
- The European Union
- Danida, Peace Corps, SNV, SIMAVI, CIDA, GTZ, Save the Children Fund, etc.
A comprehensive list should be compiled at National Level, and also obtain the criteria and specific areas of specialisation.
(ix) Government Ministries
These are probable, but not likely for most African countries. But where there is a ministerial policy on a particular subject, no harm to try some collaboration. eg. Women Issues, Environment, Alternative Energy, Youth.
NGOs sell their expertise to donor Organisation, Government departments and local community groups in project identification, elaboration, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Also, specific research activities. Doing evaluation work for and on behalf of donor and international organisations. This method of fund-raising has proved to be very valuable in the past and will become even more valuable in the future. The advantage is that, NGOs who provide consultancy services are usually cheaper, more committed to work and less bureaucratic than the formal consultancy firms. A good area to think about.
3. Types of Resources to be Mobilised
(a) Technical Resources
To request for technical assistance for a particular job or technical personnel to give back-stopping to a project. The donors may pay all the expenses for such an activity. Very valuable indeed. eg. Monitoring and Evaluation persons, Savings and Credit person, Training Materials Development persons, Engineers, etc.
(b) Human Resources
Persons with some skills who are attached on a project for long periods of time, eg. 2/3 year contracts. eg. Peace Corps, VSO (British), Development Assistants (Dutch), International Volunteer, Jewish Volunteer Services, etc. These persons come to impart skills and transfer knowledge to local counterparts. It is necessary to make sure that the skills are properly transferred not to leave any gaps when foreign person leaves.
It is an important source of resource mobilisation. There are general and specific networks. Usually, Networks, whether local or International tend to give valuable information and exchange of ideas on specific areas. More use should be made in this regard. On a more sophisticated level, we have Internet, E-mail, which can be used, if understood properly.
(d) Exchange of Visits
These can be done on local level, to get first hand information on the particular work being done. Through the field visits, persons can learn a lot from one another.
4. Strategy for Fund-Raising/Resource Mobilisation
(i) Have SELLABLE idea or proposal:
Before embarking on any fund-raising or resource mobilization exercise, there should be a sellable idea or proposal. This should be well thought of and the ideas clearly presented. Without a well thought of idea, it will not be possible to get far in fund-raising.
(ii) Have Good Knowledge of Partner:
One should have made some study of the Organisation or group to which proposal is being sent, to make sure to respond to their specific needs and concerns. Some are sectoral, others general. By doing a thorough background it is possible to limit the chances of failure or rejection.
(iii) Have Specific Target Beneficiaries:
The beneficiaries of the projects have to be as specific as possible. Indeed, the more clear and identifiable the targets, the better the chances of success. Be as little ambitious as possible. Do something small, and do it well, than to try to do big things and mess up.
(iv) Do Small Appeals:
The smaller the sum requested, the better the chances of success. It is easier to get funding from ten (10) companies for US$1,000 each, than US$10,000 from one (1) company.
(v) Do Good Marketing:
Presentation of project proposals is very important. As much as possible efforts should be put in and money spent on good project proposals writing. Experts can be requested to assist in this field. We have to spend money to get more money-nothing comes for nothing, although many NGOs would want to think the contrary.
(vi) Be Persistent:
Do not give up on the first attempt. Try again and again and again. As much as possible, do personal follow-ups. This may change the attitude of those who have to make the decisions.
(vii) Be Convinced of Proposal:
Personal or corporate conviction in any proposal is already a first step to achieving what you want. If the proposal is really and truly for the development of the people, the funds will come.
(viii) Pray Unceasingly:
Plenty of prayers for the proposal never did anyone any harm!!!
5. Possible Problems to be Encountered
(i) Dwindling funds and resources from the developed world may affect the amount of resources they are prepared to give out. This means that only well thought of proposals may go through.
(ii) Competition for funds from Eastern Europe and Asia makes competition from Africa even more difficult. Political climate in countries may either play positive or negative roles in resource allocation.
(iii) Local depression may make local companies less enthusiastic to release funds. But through proper contacts, and reminding them of tax holidays (where they exist) it is possible to get somewhere.
(iv)The process of fund-raising may be long and tedious. Only the persistent ones will survive.
(v) Count on 10% success rate for fund-raising attempts. Anything else is bonus.
(a) May have to sacrifice independence to donor Organisation or bi-lateral agency.
(b) Sometimes, one's dignity would have to be compromised, by bearing all kinds of things which you will otherwise not tolerate. But remember, you have a greater goal.
(c) Be prepared for a lot of paperwork, presentation of reports, unannounced visits and disruption of work-plans, to satisfy the donor. But remember, a poor person has no choice...or do they?
(d) Be patient....be patient, be patient!
R. K. AMOAKO
GHANA BOOK TRUST