The easy approach to producing your non-profit annual report

Gabrielle Ritchie| The Change Room | 19th June 2017

It’s that time of year again when everybody is likely scrambling to get their annual report conceptualised, written, designed and published.  In fact, most of us are probably just trying to get it written.

But the development of your organisation’s annual report does not have to be a massive mission.  What it does need is to be well thought through, properly conceptualised, attractively designed, and timeously published.  Amongst South African non-profits, our reports need to be submitted to the NPO Directorate within a few months (maximum 6) of our financial year-end.  Our continued status as a registered non-profit depends on the timeous submission of annual audited financials and a narrative report on your organisation.  For those organisations registered as public benefit organisations (PBO), you also need to submit your report to SARS, and for non-profit companies you will need to submit yours to CIPC.

Why else would we produce such a time-consuming piece of work?

Well, for a few reasons, actually.  These include that:

  1. A good annual report makes an excellent marketing tool, to share with donors, friends, supporters and beneficiaries
  2. Your annual report communicates your major achievements over the previous period
  3. It is an opportunity to share your financial status with anyone who cares to look, promoting transparency about the organisation’s state of financial affairs
  4. It is an important reflection of a well-functioning and expertly governed organisation
  5. It is a great opportunity to share stories, images and infographics of your work and of the difference you make in your community (however that may be defined).

So what makes a “good annual report”?

The answer to this is relatively straightforward – and you could simply follow the tips and steps outlined below.  The key questions that need to be asked in approaching the development of your annual report are detailed below and can be used as a discussion guide, with responses serving to shape an action plan.

  1. Who will be part of preparing the report? Which staff/ board members/ contracted service providers need to be involved?
  2. Should we engage an external freelancer (writing and/or design)? Do we have someone you use already?  Or someone in mind whose work we like?
  3. Will the Executive Director write the introductory overview, or would we prefer the Board Chair? Or both?
  4. Have we been gathering photos all year, and do we have easy access to these for use in the publication? Are they all ours or do we need permissions to use some of the images?
  5. Do we have an accurate, up-to-date, spelling-corrected donor list from the previous period, covering all donations? Are we going to mention all donors?  Do we have specific donor categories depending on donor-type or donation size?  What needs to be done to develop such a list?
  6. What will be our annual report’s theme? [There are many resources online to help you think through what kind of theme might suit your organisation, your work, and your annual report]
  7. Will we distribute in print and/or online? Both? What format will work best for us? Who is our audience and what works best for them?
  8. What are our best stories to share in this annual report?
  9. What are our key organisational messages, and where will we include them?
  10. Should we use video in our report?
  11. When will we launch or distribute our annual report?
  12. What are our three major accomplishments/achievements for the past year? And how can we ensure these link to the key messages?
  13. Who is going to triple-check our reported financials and donor list to ensure 100% accuracy?
  14. What calls to action should we include?

Answer those questions, and you will have the beginnings of a plan!

Key components of your report

Once you have a plan in place, you can consider the key components of your annual report.  Traditional components are based broadly on a Letter from Chair, an overview  from the Executive Director, a programme report from the Programme Director, perhaps some staffing and HR information on skills development  etc, the financial report, and a donor acknowledgement section.

A shorter, sharper approach could be (but not necessarily in this order):

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Executive Director letter (include mission: what you do and why)
  3. Accomplishments/Achievements (past year only)
  4. Stories (profiles) to highlight successes
  5. Photos all the way through the report
  6. Donor list
  7. Financials
  8. Board of Directors / Trustees
  9. A call to action

And use your report to THANK people: your donors and funders, your supporters, your partners – and your beneficiaries who have trusted you and your work!

If you need any advice on how to make this happen, drop me a line or ask a question here in the comments section.  Write well and make your annual report ROCK!

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South African NPOs: Six things to avoid in fundraising emails

Gabrielle Ritchie | Director, The Change Room | 26th May 2017

Last night I participated in Gail Perry’s Fired-Up Fundraising webinar, How a Smart Fundraising Plan Can Transform Your Fundraising AND Save Your Butt. It was a brilliant reminder of some of the basics, the fundamentals, that organisations need to put in place for successful fundraising.  It also reminded me of some of the technical issues around fundraising communications, with particular reference to emails.

While Gail shared with us that last year’s US-based Giving Tuesday’s email campaigns saw 34% of mails ending up in spam, it is still a key mechanism for building support for non-profit causes, and for communicating fundraising messages.  So we really need to get it right.  I recently received two very horrible fundraising emails which reminded me not only how easy it is to get it wrong, but how many organisations are still getting it wrong.  With the unprecedented level of easy-to-access online resources, this should not be happening.  So I have a list, based on the two examples I referred to, on what to AVOID:

  1. Subject line – your subject header is your first and last opportunity to grab your readers’ attention, so make it work!  If you must include something like “[organisation’s name] fundraising event” then …. no, just kidding. Don’t use that subject line. Ever. Unless its an internal organisational event-planning email intended only for your colleagues.  Use that tiny window of opportunity (ie.the subject header) to communicate your key message – eg. Support [xxxx cause] – join us on [date]; or Join us in rocking to [xxx band] – and support [xxx cause]; or something unrelated to the event or to the fact that your support is needed. If it is an event, try something fun: How to spend your Saturday night having the most fun ever! Or if you are appealing for direct donation, try “Ten ways to support old people in your community”. Anything but ploddy and blunt – “Fundraising event” or “Appeal for donation” are designed to put people right off.
  2. Greeting – avoid a dead line such as “Good day” or “Good Afternoon Sir/ Madam” – with no personalisation. It is the coldest, most off-putting, most “I don’t know who you are, and I don’t care, but I want your money” kind of opening. And it puts mail recipients off just like that, in the opening line.  Ensure you include the recipient’s name, or title and surname. And get it right.  With the mail management software available, there is no excuse. If you really aren’t able to include names, at least start with something warm and friendly, like “Dear Friends”.
  3. Attachments – don’t include attachments. Just don’t. This is not what fudnraising emails are for. If you are mailing out to a predominantly cold list, an attachment will put people right off. I, like most others, don’t open mails with attachments from people I don’t know.  If you are mailing to a group of existing supporters, don’t make them do the work by now having to download and open an attachment!  If you need to space in an attachment, to include all your information, you are doing something wrong.
  4. Images – if you need to embed images in your mail, make them small!  As a fundraiser, you want to be keeping things as simple, easy and uncumbersome as possible. And you want images to come up right away – because if they are not included to grab attention (only a few seconds to do that!), then why did you include them?
  5. Content – you need to include encouraging text, that takes the mail recipient by the hand and (very quickly) leads them to an emotion.  No emotion = no point of contact.  Don’t bore readers with technical details about your organisation (eg. “:We are a registered NPO” – because if you aren’t, then get out of my mail box you hoaxer! That kind of info belongs in small print as part of your signature). Do not use the precious “real estate” of the readers screen for boring and unnecessary text. You want the reader to be excited about supporting you, whether that sense of heightened awareness is based on sympathy, empathy, self-interest, outrage, justice – it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that however your message makes them feel, it galvanises them to go to and participate in your Call to Action!
  6. Call to Action – this is absolutely critical in a fundraising email.  The purpose of the mail is to share an immediate, direct Call to Action that your recipients can reasonably achieve while they are reading your mail – for example “Go to our Donate page”, with a big DONATE button; or a big button saying “Get Involved – here’s HOW” (which must link to your website where there would be information on the multiple ways a prospective donor can support your work); include a “Get your tickets here” button, which takes the reader to a ticket-purchase page.  You get the idea. Bear in mind that people are not supporting your “fundraising”, they are supporting your “work” and the cause you are involved with – so use that effectively in your Call to Action!

Those are some basics – now go and craft the best fundraising mail ever! You (and your board and beneficiaries) will be so glad you did!

Digital space, civil society and nonprofits in South Africa

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Gabrielle Ritchie, Director, The Change Room

25th November 2016

So what is the state of play in South African digital civil society?  My last post looked at the importance of defending digital spaces in South Africa – but now I go back a bit, to the nitty-gritty of digital civil society. This broad phrase refers to a broad mix of concerns, approaches, practices and activities ranging from building the public profile of a cause, to defending current levels of freedom, openness and accessibility of digital space.

Enset has been running a global workshop series focused on supporting civil society organisations around the world to navigate what Enset refers to as “the complex digital landscape” to achieve online effectiveness.  Enset’s mission with these workshops and panel discussions is to identify and, likely, help create the best paths for the use of digital space by non-profits globally.

The Enset/ Resource Alliance panel discussion, of which I was a part – held at Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town on 4th October 2016 – was titled, “NGOdigitalspaces & Civil Society”.  The discussion addressed a range of issues and practice areas in the digital space, such as:

  • What is the role of Social Media in building civil society?
  • How is digital fundraising changing the donor relationship and giving overall?
  • What are some of the risks and challenges of digital spaces, and what can non-profits to address these?
  • What is the political / regulatory environment and implications of a new NPO Act in South Africa?
  • What is the future of digital spaces for civil society – opportunities, challenges and potential threats?
  • What is the importance of credibility and validation within the sector?

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A number of organisations and individuals spoke to their particular concerns, the work they do, and how their work serves to address their concerns.  The panel and issues included:

  1. Jeri Curry, president and CEO, Enset: introduction to the non-profit and civil society digital space, and to the work of Enset – and also navigated the panellists inputs, facilitating the discussion with great knowledge and expertise.
  2. Baratang Miya, founder and CEO, GirlHype: now here is somebody to watch and keep up with. Baratang spoke about her initiative to encourage girls into the digital and tech space, not as users but as innovators.  Great stuff.
  3. Michelle Jones, head of content for digital agency RogerWilco: Michelle shared lessons from a successful client project, showing how paying careful attention to messaging, content, design and site architecture can completely change levels, frequency and type of user interactions with your online presence
  4. Gabrielle Ritchie, Director, The Change Room: This is me – I spoke about the need to defend digital spaces, as these levels of freedom increasingly come under the state spotlight and as non-profit organisations are under pressure from government. I also shared insights about the legislative framework that currently governs this space in South Africa.
  5. Colin Habberton, IFC Ambassador, South Africa: Colin shared insights into the use of digital platforms for fundraising and for profile-building for organisations and causes, and stressed the importance – across a range of factors – of building an online profile
  6. Michelle Matthews, Head of ED and Innovation, CiTi: Michelle’s focused on trends in ICT and the digital economy, and she shared details of a fantastic digital project supporting start-up and established social enterprises and businesses, including the development of an innovative toolkit (which we all wanted a copy of!)

Are you starting to get the picture?  Around the breadth and depth of any discussions about “digital space”?

We can talk about developments in digital technology; the use of digital technologies for the promotion of civil society campaigns; the role of an online presence in promoting your non-profit organisation and in stakeholder/ supporter/ donor communications; the importance of content in building a profile and positive footprint in the online space; the role of civil society organisations in promoting and encouraging the involvement of girl learners in the digital tech space; the importance of an online presence for fundraising (both on- and off-line); the pressure (globally) on civil society and the closure of operating spaces, both physical and digital; and the legislative framework governing the use of digital technology (eg. drones for journalism) and online spaces.  That’s just the start.

In addition, there is a boatload of information that non-profits need to keep up with – such as the 2014 transition of the org.za domain (used by most South African non-profits for their web presence) to a new regulatory authority, and the implications for non-profits using org.za.  Again, just the start.

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Enset’s work has had the effect not just of providing spaces to have discussions about digital spaces and civil society, but also of connecting activists and digital specialists locally and globally.  It is critical that we are talking to each other, in light of my particular concern – as per my previous post – about the defence of digital spaces as we see an increase in governments clamping down on activities that challenge their actions (or lack of action).

This space is absolutely critical for civil society organising, as a still-democratic space providing for the proliferation and platforming of a range of voices critical to debate, discussion, defining the languaging around particular issues, and moving away from the dominance of traditional media and their ownership of public discourse.  This has changed irreversibly, and this space must be defended.

Is your organisation fit for philanthropy and fundraising?

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Gabrielle Ritchie, Director: The Change Room
27th May 2016
Are you fit for fundraising? What do you need to know to attract funding resources to your organisation?
A quick bullet list for you (ok, it might have got a bit long):
  1. There are no shortcuts in raising money. No quick fixes. No cutting corners.
  2. You have to have your governance in order. This is critical. No donor is going to fund an organisation with poor governance.  See http://www.governance.org.za  for the Independent Code of Governance for Non-profit Organisations in South Africa.  You can sign on to the Code.
  3. You have to have a plan – a plan for your work and a plan for your resourcing of that work. You know the line – failing to plan is planning to fail.  For a video discussion of the role and importance of planning in organisations see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eMDReWepAw
  4. You have to be able to demonstrate excellent financial management – where everything tallies, regular financial reports are sent to your funders, and you have annual audited financial statements. There isn’t really any way around this.
  5. You need the skills and capacity to raise funds properly and professionally – however you parcel the work out, delegate to board members, get volunteers on board. Next week I will be posting on the basic skills sets required for effective organisational resourcing – keep a look-out.
  6. Your organisation must be clear about its mission, and must speak with one voice to communicate clear and coherent shared messages.  For good resources on this go to www.askinyathelo.org.za.
  7. You must build a profile for your work – traditional media, social media, networking events, community forums etc. However you do it, you must share stories about what you do.  For a video discussion of this in the South African context go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXuoE-QX5Tc
  8. You must have the required skills to implement your projects. Signs of poor project implementation means you either won’t get the money, or you might have to give money back to the donor.  For a short list of key skills go to http://askinyathelo.org.za/essential-skills-for-an-advancement-operation/
  9. Fundraising is an organisation-wide endeavour. Everyone is involved – either in providing excellent services, implementing great programmes, answering the phone professionally, writing good content and reports, managing the money, making sure your IT network functions, keeping your organisation’s premises clean. Everyone. Make sure they know that, and that they feel part of the team.
  10. Writing an annual report, no matter how short and simple, is a great way to make and keep friends.
  11. You must have a well-crafted case for support – so that you can explain simply and swiftly why what you do is important, and the ways in which your organisation provides unique value to the context in which you work. Know why you are special. Be able to speak about that with confidence.
  12. You know how everyone talks about proposal writing? It is one of the least important parts of the process of raising money. Well, it is not the most important – but for key things that donors look for in your approach to them, here is a short overview called The Power Pitch: non-profits on a mission to attract funding.
  13. The most important part is your capacity to speak passionately and expertly about your work and what you seek to achieve – to donors, to the people you work with, to potential partners, to relevant people in government, to the media.
  14. And finally (kind of…) – know how to engage professionally with your donors and your potential donors. Loads of people are wanting to access funding, so don’t mess your chances up by being sloppy, unprofessional, and by not following the basic rules.
  15. What are the basic rules? Communicate with your donors, be very very sure to thank them appropriately, acknowledge them in ways that work for both the donor and for your organisation, and keep them posted – on progress, on impact, on achievements, on milestones. Even on bad news, failures, things going wrong – don’t hide this stuff. Communicate! An e-mail, a phone-call, a handwritten letter, an image, an invitation to an event – it doesn’t matter how you do it, but keep doing it. Communicate.
  16. To do all that, you have to manage your donor contact data. You must know who supports you and how to contact them. Keeping this data up-to-date, with well-managed information on donor history with your organisation – critical.
Just to say it again – THANK and ACKNOWLEDGE. Communicate and keep contact data.

Is “Consultant” almost a swear word for non-profits in South Africa?

by Gabrielle Ritchie

service provider | consultant | advisor : 13th August 2015

A certain cool descends on a NPO meeting when the word “consultant” is raised. The word gets prodded like a smelly fish, or turned over for closer inspection. NPO staff don’t generally love a consultant, or consultancies, or people brought in to do project-focused, short-term pieces of organisational work. Consultants are spoken of (and I know this, having contracted numerous consultants across a huge variety of projects in my role as an NPO director of programmes) as anything from expensive, time-wasting, never fully apprised of “the work”, limited, don’t get the depth of the work etc …all the way to bloodsuckers, leeches, scavengers, a rip-off, just out to make the bucks, and so on.

In short, “consultant” is like a swear word, and consultants must generally get in, get out and move on. The relationship between consultants and their client can be fractious, and tenuous. There is generally a deep distrust in organisations of consultants, and those organisations doing the contracting tend not to trust that a consultant will deliver timeously and excellently on the work required.

Then there is a range of little complexities and potential trip-falls.  For example, who sets the terms of engagement – does the consultant indicate their fee, or does the client indicate what they are willing to pay? Perhaps in the non-profit world, because some of the more old-style players still insist on “paying is bad, free is good”, the very notion of having to pay for a service or for work done, by someone other than an employee, is simply irksome.

So I am now a “consultant”. Or am I a service provider?  Does “consultant” just sound more expensive and costly for the same work? Are they the same?  In fact, most “consultants” who work in the non-profit space can more accurately be described as service providers. This might sound like just a bit of old semantics, but I stand by my firm belief in the approach that “words really do matter”. I have a personal preference for being as accurate as possible (along with using liberal sprinklings of a few choice bits of slang along the way!), so I do prefer calling a provider of services a “service provider”.

As a service provider, I consult to organisations around specific aspects of their work and what they need to deliver on, and I provide a range of services. In other words, as a service provider, I do aspects of the work that client organisations need to deliver on. Most times, service providers and consultants are contracted because organisations simply don’t have the capacity to do the work. Perhaps the skill is too specialist and costly to have someone in a staff post. Perhaps the project deadline is looming and work needs to be delivered, so extra capacity is brought on board. Perhaps a one-off project needs a particular skill that is not core to the organisation’s work, and so a consultant is brought on board. Or perhaps a project was conceived, and budgeted, as one for which external providers would be contracted. Organisations have myriad reasons for contracting in expertise in certain areas, and there are myriad specialists out there to fill these organisational needs.

Here is the kicker, though – and it brings us back to the swear-word nature of the word “consultant” in the NPO sector. The thing about service providers, advisors and consultants to the NPO sector, and working in the non-profit space, is that there is really very little difference between those who provide services to NPOs and NPO employees (ie. people employed by, and paid a regular income to work for, a NPO). Almost every service provider I have worked with in the NPO sector are driven by the same kinds of values and objectives as those they serve and to whom they deliver specialist services. As service providers they are choosing to work with non-profit organisations, in support of their organisational missions, and to work with them towards achieving their client’s goals.

As a service provider – ie. being paid by a funder or a non-profit to deliver pieces of work – I am working hard at understanding the difference between how I work now (freelance/ consultant/ service provider) and how I worked before as an organisational employee (and contractor of consultants!). Some of the questions I have posed to myself, as I make my morning coffee and prepare for a day of service providing, include:

  1. What is different about how I work?
  2. What has changed in the scope, quality and characteristics of the things I care about – the issues, the people, the areas of endeavour, the change-driven agendas?
  3. How has becoming a service provider changed my values?

The conclusion is, apart from a few extremely critical differences in my work day and in what administrative issues I need to concern myself with, there is very little difference. Very little has changed. Nothing has changed in fact, with regard to the things I care about, my ethics and values, my sense of social justice and rights-driven change agendas. The only thing that has changed is that I don’t work in an organisation any longer, and I no longer have a set income that I earn monthly, performance and delivery depending.

This new life is a very different kind of work life. Many say it can be really lonely; it can be exhausting worrying about where the next piece of work will come from; it is challenging constantly working with different clients; and so on. I will no doubt experience the full range of conflicts and joys of working on my own, but what I do know for sure is that I am as committed as I ever was to strengthening South African civil society and the funders and organisations which comprise this space. So are most of the consultants and service providers who work with non-profit organisations! In fact, non-profits themselves are increasingly developing products and services through which to generate income. In other words, they too are becoming consultants and service providers.

Generally speaking, and based on my still-fresh and new perspective as a service provider, us consultants and service providers are a good lot! Perhaps my previous scepticism of all things consultant was simply an ill-disguised envy for those who could engage with the best of the actual work, without having to navigate the intricacies of being an organisational staffer 🙂

The Power Pitch: non-profits on a mission to attract funding

image from @deviantART

By Gabrielle Ritchie : Independent Advisor, Consultant and Service Provider to Grantseekers and Grantmakers

What do donors look for in a pitch or proposal?

I had the excellent fortune of being able to participate as an audience member in a Donor Dragon’s Den this morning at Inyathelo (the non-profit for which I was – until recently – director of programmes, where I established and ran amongst many other initiatives a programme to promote South African philanthropy).  I left Inyathelo a few months ago to pursue my own more focused interests, and it is now a real treat to experience as a client the excellence of an organisation with which one has been integrally involved.  What a great use of a few hours, with Eskom’s load-shedding accommodated into the mix and all!

So what is a Donor Dragons’ Den and how did this first Den work at Inyathelo? (I say “first” as I believe there are others to follow!)

Non-profits were invited to submit a one-page written case for support.  From all of the submissions, four organisations were selected to pitch to a panel of six funders, in front of an audience of approximately 100 people from various non-profits and other initiatives around Cape Town. Each pitch needed to be delivered within five minutes – and, along with a spoken pitch, could include powerpoint and other adjunct materials.  This Dragon’s Den was perhaps a little different to the usual DD format as it did not involve funding directly and there was no cash award for the best pitch.

So why did it work so well from my point of view?

It worked for a number of reasons – let me bullet point here:

  • There was a power panel of donors – including corporate funders, private foundations, and community funders.
  • Four non-profits were brave enough to stand up in front of an audience, not only comprising a donor panel but also including 100 colleagues and peers from the non-profit sector.
  • All of us could listen, firstly to the pitches and then to the donor feedback – a fantastic learning opportunity!
  • While there was no funding award for the top pitch, there was a great bag of benefits including tickets to Inyathelo’s upcoming September 2015 Advancement Academy, and a subscription to Inyathelo’s Advancement Academy
  • There was genuine interest and enthusiasm in the room around how each pitch was presented, and in what the donor panel’s comment and feedback was on each pitch
  • The donor panel engaged fully with each presentation, and their detailed feedback on each was thoughtful, careful, constructive and succint – providing insights for all participants to take to apply to their own next set of pitches and their organisational cases for support.

My key take-aways for non-profits, from the donor panel critique, were:

  1. However your case for support is presented, ensure that you tell a compelling story.
  2. Take the donor on a “key points” journey in the short time or space you have to present your case.
  3. The “Donor Grid” is a really helpful frame when selecting what to include/exclude from your pitch or introduction – Story, Statement, Statistics, Solution. There you have it plain and simple.  Provide those in clear, punchy linked narrative, and you are already on a more likely path to success.
  4. Donors see evidence of sustainability as critical – and they don’t only look at funding sustainability.  Donors find it really compelling when an organisation can present or refer to a visible named group of committed drivers/supporters who will BE there for the organisation, and who are deeply committed to its sustainability.
  5. Income generation is a very important criterion in assessment of a case for support. Indicators are sought by donors with regard to viability of income generation. Evidence of active efforts to generate income, based on selling products or services, is deemed a key positive pointer (but, paradoxically, won’t necessarily attract donor funding! Bit of a tightrope there!).
  6. If an organisation is in the brilliant position of getting to pitch directly to a donor, it is the quality of the spoken presentation (passion, integrity, punch) that will win the day – but this must be matched equally with whatever material you leave behind.  A personal pitch and a written piece must work together, and each must be equally powerful.
  7. If you are able to present an in-person pitch, and you do use a powerpoint, ensure that your spoken word matches the powerpoint slides in such a way that pitch and powerpoint both complement and strengthen each other.  One can bring the other down.
  8. It seems REALLY obvious – but you MUST make an ask! The Dragon’s Den panel indicated an appreciation for a specific ask, a specific budget amount for a specific piece of work.
  9. In an in-person pitch, best you know who you are dealing with.  Funding decision-makers are people too – therefore some will appreciate a lot of detail while others are looking for big picture indicators and strategic approach.  Know who you are talking to.
  10. If you have developed a leave-behind pamphlet or one-pager, great infographics work well.  But they need to make a good, stark, unmissable point.
  11. Tell stories that make your organisational work come alive!
  12. It is possible to involve organisational beneficiaries or clients in your pitch or your organisational storytelling.  In-person contributions, though often incredibly powerful, come with a caution from donor panelists around the power politics and possibility of exploiting the holders of those stories.  This is really good to think through and for one’s organisation to be very clear about.

So there you have it.  If you do ever get to pitch to a donor in person.

Most organisations, though, don’t manage to arrange face-time with funding decision-makers.  How, then, do the above points apply when submitting a written case or proposal?

Here is my shot at translating from the “Dragons’ Den” to a “Power Proposal”:

  1. Have a good story – strong, well written, with named individuals even if those names are changed for privacy and protections.
  2. Make a strong statement with your case – illustrating how your organisation provides sound solutions to abiding problems.
  3. Statistics and the use of numbers will provide a punchy, effective, in-your-face illustration of the scale of a problem and the impact of the solution.  Use them – but use them well. As above, great infographics work really well – just as a bad one can really detract from your story.
  4. Make a specific ASK. Mention an amount. Explain the amount. And show through narrative and budget how you will use the funding, what you hope to achieve with that budget, and how such a contribution or investment (yes, use those words!) would support the organisation in achieving specific, defined goals.
  5. It turns out that donors increasingly want to see evidence of sincere efforts to develop income-generating products and services.  Such product development initiatives, and related income, serve to demonstrate effort, intent and integrity on the part of the grantseeker to work toward a real diversification of income streams to support the organisation’s work.  This in itself is a whole topic – one I might get to address down the line!

If you think your organisation’s written case for support or your spoken pitch needs work, take the above into account.  And look out for Inyathelo’s next Dragon’s Den.  It’s well worth a couple of hours!

How do we know when FREE is worth the effort, or just a waste of time?

Non-profits generally love FREE!!  And donors usually get really excited about low-cost/ no-cost opportunities for their grantees to access skills-exchanges and new knowledge.

But How do we know when FREE is worth the effort, or just a waste of time?

Here is one virtual online conference you can be sure will be worth the effort.  Organised and hosted by Resource Alliance, an organisation with a global reputation for its excellence in capacity development products and services for non-profits (particularly their conferences!), you can’t really go too wrong 🙂

This two-day event is being held on 13th and 14th May 2015 and all you need to do to be part of this fantastic learning event is register here. Over the two days, 16 sessions will be presented by leading experts in digital marketing, online fundraising and social media marketing, from within and outside the non-profit sector.

Full details on the programme are available here and include the following:-

  • Six practical methodologies to enable you to get started – Dr Scilla Elworthy (UK)
  • Charities don’t tweet, people do – Euan Semple (UK)
  • Adapting to a changing world: the innovation imperative – Colin Habberton (South Africa)
  • Seven ways to use mobile to build your supporter base – Nick Allen (USA)
  • Integrating digital into your old fashioned fundraising stuff – Sean Triner (Australia)
  • Crowdfunding for fundraisers – Ronald Kleverlaan (Netherlands)
  • Five learnings from masters of social media you can use in your fundraising today – Touko Sipiläinen (Finland)

According to Resource Alliance, who host the regular Netherlands-based International Fundraising Conference,over 2 000 delegates from 120 countries participated in last year’s Fundraising Online, which once again aims to help charities of all sizes successfully navigate the shifting sands of technological change.   With a focus on “empowerment and bridging the gap between online and offline initiatives”, Resource Alliance explains that this online initiative makes it possible for delegates to “benefit from the expertise of renowned speakers in the comfort of their own workplace, wherever and whenever it suits”.

Gotta go now … off to register 🙂  I am not missing this one!