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The challenge of fundraising

One month ago I joined the C-re-aid team. With the dream of pursuing a career in development cooperation, I saw an opportunity I could not ignore when the vacancy for charity fundraiser came up. However, since I am a newbie when it comes to fundraising, it feels like a jump in the unknown. To find some guidance I started reading a lot. The literature study and the contact with another fundraiser here in Moshi, helped me to construct an idea on where to begin.

Fundraising is an essential part for any NGO and should be done in a proper way. C-re-aid has an elaborated strategy, well defined goals and a bunch of creative ideas. But, in order to make all of this happen, you need money.
So, how do you start? That is what I asked myself a month ago. Fundraising is very broad and there are a lot of options: organizing events, approach individual sponsors for free donations, contact companies while looking for a long term agreement, look into funds or governments subsidies, motivating others to organize actions in favor of your NGO, etc.
To decide which way to go, you need a clear fundraising strategy. A good strategy starts with planning and budgeting: having a clear overview of what you plan to do in the (near) future and how many resources you need for this. Once this is on point, you can start aiming for specific goals and develop a solid fundraising plan.

It seems to me that the keyword in successful fundraising is communication. Good communicative skills are required from begin to end. Fundraising is more than simply getting donations. It implies building qualitative relationships with (possible) sponsors. A first step in this process is raising awareness about the NGO and let people know the organization. This can be done in different ways such as organizing events, producing flyers, brochures and other promo material, sending out mails and newsletters, etc. In this contact it is important to show people the identity of the NGO. What is special about C-re-aid? Why do we stand out in between many other NGO’s that are looking for funding and sponsorship? My first weeks in Moshi consisted of reading a lot about C-re-aid in order to get an in-depth understanding about the NGO. What helped me with this is the construction of an organizational profile. This is not only interesting for myself, but also provides a source of information for possible sponsors later on.

After the initial contact with possible sponsors it is important to keep them interested. They should be attracted to what you do. Developing and maintaining a good relationship with them is crucial, especially in the case of long term funding and agreements. Take your time to make them feel involved, appreciated and respected. Be creative in how you keep them up to date and/or motivated to invest in your NGO: send them yearly Christmas cards, invite them to events, organize a talk about the organization; just to name a few. Even more, stand by people who are independently fundraising money in favor of your NGO. Sending them promo material to use and a “fundraising toolkit” with interesting tips and tricks for fundraising events, might motivate them even more.

All the above are small things that I feel are of great importance in fundraising. Not only communication but also transparency is essential. Be honest about where the money will go to. Donations often go to both projects and operational costs of the organization itself. Although this might possibly hinder the fundraising since people in general like to give more to specific projects, transparency is required and should be respected at all times. This, and everything mentioned before, shows the difficulty of fundraising. It seems to me it is a skill you can only master by practice. Good and bad communications and experiences will guide you to find a proper way of contacting possible sponsors, developing good relationships and motivating people to invest in the organization. I am up for the challenge!

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