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Networking and Fundraising Tips for CBOs and NGOs

What makes your Organization a credible NGO? One that's worth funding, respected by the general public and recognized by the government? Here are a few things you may already know, but take for granted, or maybe you just keep putting them off for another day.

In Tanzania, the work of NGOs is coordinated and monitored under the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children which is found in Kivukoni. This is also where you can register your NGO, for free, and get a certificate to carry out your work as a charity. The Umbrella body that oversees and coordinates NGOs in Tanzania is called the National Non-Governmental Organization’s Council (NACONGO) and has been operative for 8years. Are you a member? Have you ever been in touch with them? The principles of regulation and coordination of NGO’s by the Government of Tanzania is covered in the NGO Act, 2002.

In Rwanda the registration of NGO's is under the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB). Their website www.rgb.rw contains a list of the various requirements that an NGO needs to be registered in Rwanda. Among the requirements are Documents showing the Organization’s head office and its  full address and an Action Plan for the fiscal year.

According to a research carried out by REPOA (Special Paper 07.21), about 60% of funding for NGOs in Tanzania comes from foreign donors and international NGO’s. Funding is one of the most important and sometimes stressful aspects of the work of NGO’s. Learning effective  fundraising mechanisms is very important for NGO's.

The default position that many NGO’s take is to find the contacts of potential funders and write long proposals about their desperate needs for funding. This route is not always successful and can even make your NGO lose credibility or even make the members of the NGO lose confidence in their goal, because of all the rejection.

NGOs should understand and be aware that organizations that fund want to know that a CBO or NGO is credible before they will even reply to their funding request.

One way to build credibility is through networking. Establish both formal and informal relationships with local NGO’s and representatives of international NGO’s, local government representatives etc. Building good relations with such actors will give your NGO credibility when potential donors ask about the work of your NGO. Also if any funding or opportunities arise, these actors will remember your NGO and most likelyrefer your NGO immediately.  

The purpose of networking is not to ask for funds directly, but instead to establish your NGO’s reputation for serving the community with excellence. The purpose of networking is to create a network of organizations and people who will verify to others that your NGO is legitimate and worth supporting.

Another tactic to effectively network, is being part of formal or informal networks or associations of NGO’s within your region or country. Associations or networks of NGOs are like NACNGO, Tango, FCS, Envaya, etc. If you are not part of any NGO network, then you are missing out on possible opportunities.

Your online presence is beyond essential. Imagine, you have sent your proposal to a potential donor and they decide to “google” the name of your NGO and nothing turns up! Or they see your NGO website but it has no current updates, no projects or pictures or recent discussions. What do you expect them to do? Does it look credible on your part? Obviously not. Your Website is like the face of your NGO representing all that you stand for and what you represent in your community. Envaya has provided you with free web space – use it. Don’t take it for granted. Constantly update your projects and plans, contact details and let them be known to the world.

Lastly, instead of waiting on external funding, NGO's can take it into their own hands to fund-raise for a cause or a particular project. Fundraising can take on many different faces; from selling of old books and clothes to creating events that people can attend. One of the most recent events in Dar es Salaam, was the charity football competition between bongo movie starts versus bongo flavor stars. This apparently raised about 100M for a charity they were supporting.

Now, you do not need movie stars for your projects. You can easily create events within your neighborhood or drama skits that you can invite your ward to watch and contribute to your cause. Fund raising requires initiative and creativity. Find out what people enjoy, is it sport events? Then set up a tent with a TV that people can pay 500tsh to watch football. Is it possible to organize an event for young people with music and games for a small charge? Then do it. 

A recent fundraising example from Rwanda is the Kigali Institute of Science and Techonology (KIST) Students Community. These students carried out a music Concert, using their skills and talents to help raise funds to build safe girl hostels to accommodate and encourage more female students in the Technology Institute. The fundraising concert was attended by invited guests, students and Rwanda musicians and celebrities. The concert raised about 821,000 Rwandan Francs or 2 Million Tanzanian shillings. The simple concert was headed by the students themselves. It is possible for NGO's to self fund themselves at times instead of always waiting for a grant. In fact, it makes your NGO look more credible because it shows you are passionate about serving the community and not simply receiving donor funds.

Do you have any tips or facts to share with community based organizations?  Have you ever carried out a successful fundraising campaign? Let us know how it went, the challenges and lessons learnt. Leave your comment below.

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