There is a fascinating Christian anecdote that I love: ‘According to your faith (what you believe), receive.’ If I stood at the door offering you a million rand, what would you do? I think some would believe and receive, some would be sceptical, and some would phone the police. Any one of these reactions would be according to one’s faith or belief. Almost everything we do and everything we receive is determined by our belief.
One of my strong beliefs is that there is no such thing as luck. There is only preparation and a swift leap when opportunity knocks. The person who believes, receives, because he or she is mentally prepared and ready.
If you are prepared, opportunity always knocks. If you’re unprepared, opportunity may batter down your door, but you won’t recognise it. Many of our NGOs find themselves in one of these camps – the prepared (a small minority) and the unprepared (most). Being prepared comes down to efficiency and planning.
Recently I asked two funders from the 2018 conference, Funders’ Round, how many NGOs they had funded as a result of the conference. Sadly, their answers were similar: ‘Only one. Several sent us emails but did not complete the application process. Some said they would do so, but did not. Others just disappeared.’ It’s unfortunate, but this is the reality. At the end of the day, it comes down to the NGO staff lacking the belief in their abilities and not being prepared.
The successful NGOs are super prepared – like Sue Daly, Fundraising Manager of Kids Haven, who walked away from last year’s conference with not one, but two funders. Successful NGOs have their documents ready at all times. They plan ahead, they answer their emails promptly (not ten days later) and they recognise events like The Great Funders’ Conference as the opportunity it is.
In the month of May alone, we’ve secured commitments to speak at the conference from the CSI managers of Adcock Ingram, Old Mutual, the American Embassy, Dimension Data, Symphonia for South Africa, Tshwane University of Technology, United Nations Refugee Commission, Old Mutual, Bowman Law Firm, and the Trevor Noah Foundation.
The presence of all these funders means that there will be ample opportunity for NGOs to strike up connections and pitch their ideas. One rarely finds so many funders together in one place! What do you do when opportunity looks at you straight in the face? Some recognise it and some don’t. My take is, ‘According to your faith, receive’. Sue Daly from Kids Haven looked and leaped at the opportunity last year and this is what she achieved …
How to have it all
Susan Daly, the Fundraising Manager of Kids Haven in Gauteng, walked away from the last conference with not one, but two funders.
Was she lucky? Not at all. She was well prepared. Having benefitted so well from the last conference, she booked for this year’s September conference in January, taking advantage of our Early Bird special and receiving a 20% discount. (She actually paid from her own pocket at the time). She did not sit back and say, ‘We still have those two funders from last year, so there’s no need to waste our money.’ Instead it was, ‘Yes! We are going to get funded by even more companies. I’ll strike up relationships that will serve my NGO long after I’ve left.’
Sue is passionate about Kids Haven and gives her all to her job. When she says, ‘I’ll get back to you on Wednesday,’ she means it. First thing on Wednesday, there’s a call or an email from her.
Just as some of you are now, Sue may have been skeptical when she first heard about last year’s conference. What made her book was a quick look through the list of attending funders and the realisation that many were companies to whom she had sent proposals. Here was her opportunity to cement relationships by speaking face to face with people she’d only written to. She came, made those connections, and her NGO reaped the benefits. This year, she’ll not only be attending, but speaking at the conference.
My top tip for making the most of this year’s conference is: Be ready!
to be ready
Have your documents prepared in advance – so that the very day after the conference, you’re ready to send.
- Bank letter. Get a bank letter confirming your NGO’s account in September, so that it is up to date at the time of the conference.
- SARS letter. Have your tax clearance certificate from SARS ready.
- NGO registration certificate. Locate it and photocopy it!
- Most recent minutes. Have your most recent minutes typed up, dated, and properly formatted, showing venue, who was present, and actions taken. Make the meaning of every sentence clear, and the appearance professional.
- BBBEE certificate. Get your BBBEE certificate signed and stamped by a Commissioner of Oaths (the police or any lawyer).
- Annual report, including audited financial statement. This is a must. Nothing happens without an audited financial statement.
Good reasons to be present
I asked Susan Daly what made her choose to attend The Great Funders’ Conference (17 – 19 September 2019). She said:
‘I want two things: to be in a room with funders so that I can hear what they’re looking for in applications and, secondly, to find opportunities to engage with funders whom I think align with what we do.
‘Also, I like the focus of the conference. After attending last year what worked for me was how practical the speakers and specific about what they do, why and with whom and most importantly what they want. I am tired of being in spaces where commentators analyse what the country needs without being practical and basic and describing their real commitment to meeting these needs. The needs are obvious! What are we doing to solve them?’
In other words, there’ll be no ‘analysis paralysis’ at The Great Funders’ Conference. We’re going to be broad and focused at the same time. We need to look critically at the future and business of funding, but we also need to be specific and practical with funding information. We’ll be examining important legislative issues, looking at innovative start-ups that bridge the gap between NGO and business, and giving funders the platform to say what, how and why and who they fund. In our view, NGOs cannot do other than benefit.
Why not take the plunge? Like Susan Daly of Kids Haven, you may
come away with more than you bargained for. Please expect a full profile on Kids
Haven on CSRNEWSSA soon.
* Who is Kids Haven?
Kids Haven was founded in 1992 in response to the high number of street children in Benoni. The NGO provides a home for street children, ensuring they are safe, healthy, educated and cared for. They have an amazing array of programmes, including the Kids Justice programme, the Kids Haven Therapy programme, the Bridging School programme, a Youth Skills programme, and a Care Givers’ programme. They also have some amazing testimonials from young people who were nurtured and educated at Kids Haven and came out thriving. To learn more about the organisation, visit www.kidshaven.co.za.
AND AN AFTERWORD …
I cannot let this month slip by without informing you of some exciting developments that transpired in the month of May.
Again, the following corporates recently made commitments to speak
at The Great Funders’ Conference
– 19 September): Adcock Ingram, Old Mutual, American Embassy, Dimension Data,
Symphonia for South Africa, Tshwane University of Technology, United Nations
Refugee Commission, Old Mutual, Bowman Law Firm, and the Trevor Noah
Foundation. That is not the entire list – there are others.
NGO Aid is an opportunity for corporates and NGOs to partner for one last ‘goodbye opportunity’, and end the relationship on a high note.
Before your contract runs out with the corporate who has been supporting you,
contact them to consider participating in the programme by sponsoring two
tickets for your attendance at the conference.
To the corporates: We’re requesting your goodwill on this one. NGO Aid is an opportunity to leave your NGO partner with a particularly favourable impression and demonstrate the goodwill that is so much a part of the CSI industry. In addition, you’ll benefit by being able to claim extra BEE points for training.
It’s a win-win. We believe this conference will do much to enhance the professionalism of NGOs and generally raise the standard of CSI work in South Africa.
this conference will do much to enhance the professionalism of NGOs and generally raise the standard of CSI work in South Africa.