40 ways to help your organization survive tough financial times

By Isaac Roy Kyeyune, Director at FIND Partners International in Kampala. (This originally appeared as a guest post on how-matters.org.)

The year 2013 saw trends that are changing resource politics for civil society. These are a wakeup call to not only strengthen, but diversity your organization’s fundraising, as well as develop your structures, systems, and skills in resource mobilization:

Critical funding trends in 2013

  1. The global credit crunch;
  2. The temporally shut down of the US government;
  3. The potential rise of China and its partners as interested donors;
  4. The continued development of EU as a funding bloc;
  5. The increasing interest by donors in consortia rather than isolated projects;
  6. The change from sustainability to integration and holistic approach;
  7. The new era of implementation research as opposed to mere project interventions; and
  8. The emergency of modern technology and social networks on the funding scene.

We have declared 2014 a year for institutional resource independence at FIND Partners!

So we share below 40 PRACTICAL TIPS on how you can steer your organization through resource-constrained times. Though we hope these tips won’t be necessary, roll up your sleeves now for a prosperous and more resourceful 2014!

Donor Cultivation

(1)  Increase all resource mobilization activities to generate more funds. Tap into the local resources.

(2)  Ask Board members to contribute or increase their existing contributions, and bring in additional individual donors to the organization.

(3)  Ask your donors if it is possible to make more financial commitments (although this can be difficult for institutional donors).

(4)  Cultivate relationships with a couple of donors that you can approach if “rescue funds” are needed.

Cost Savings

(5)  Re-bargain contracts and consultancies. Negotiate services for lower costs such as fuel, bank charges, and exchange rates.

(6)  Centralize secretarial services like photocopying and printing to avoid wastage and misuse.

(7)  Limit field activities that may not necessarily affect the project outputs – such as supervisions.

(8)  Officially ground some vehicles to avoid movement for non-essential journeys.

(9)  Limit less critical services; intercom, newspapers, or reduce security guards.

(10)  Switch off unnecessary power lights and gadgets mostly at night. Ask someone to oversee this daily.

Alternative Sources of Funding

(11)  Increase membership dues or costs. Always explain this to members.

(12)  Explore non-typical sources of funding, e.g. renting some space, consultancies, sale of old equipment.

(13)  Have your agency provide consultancy services to other agencies or organizations. Many Directors are slow on this. While it can take away from your organizations’ activities in the short-term, it can provide quick funding for your agency.

Strengthen Existing Systems

(14)  Strengthen your financial, accountability and personnel monitoring systems. Staff are more likely to stretch these during tight financial times.

(15)  If the staffs have a savings scheme, ensure it’s managed well especially during this period.

(16)  Pay salaries on time, as always as you can. If this becomes not possible, always explain this to staff.

The Hard Choices

(17)  Eliminate job-related redundancies in your organization. Sometimes, you can merge duties of a resigning staff to current staff rather than refilling a position.

(18)  Revise staff contracts to short term and/or cut salaries or limit/suspend benefits payments like compensations or leave pays. While painful, this is always better than having your agency burst.

(19)  Limit staff medical insurance to only health-threatening conditions.

(20)  Hire out some services such as security guards, cleaning, auditing, etc. if it is cheaper than employing staff.

(21)  Cut staff allowances, trips, and parties. Always explain this to staff.

(22)  Suspend uncritical insurance policies.

(23)  Keep your lawyers well updated in case any issues arise with staff or suppliers.

(24)  Beef up security around your organization. Thefts tend to rise during uncertain periods.

Engage Staff

(25)  Ask respective units to devise means of cutting costs, e.g. the IT staff to ration internet surfing and downloads.

(26)  Ask top management to take some pay cuts or reduce time efforts.

(27)  Inform and train your staff on effective resource use. Draft policies and guidelines on who, when, and how to manage critical assets such as cars or photocopy.

(28)  Ask staff to double their efforts. This increases chances to get more funding.

(29)  Suspend staff appraisals. They often generate unnecessary tension and contract negotiations.

(30)  If Project activities are lighter, encourage staffs to go for leave. This softens demand to the general facilities, infrastructure, and services like food, internet, and transport.

(31)  Train, support and mentor your staff away from costly personal ventures outside of work (e.g. alcohol consumption, smoking, gambling/borrowing, over-dating, clubbing, etc) as these may threaten their personal financial security.

(32)  Create a buffer of volunteers and interns as you are likely to have many staff either resign, ask for leaves, or fall sick more regularly due to stress.

Strengthen External Relationships

(33)  Share resources with partners doing similar work. For example, use same car for field visits.

(34)  Engage government. Many of them (especially through the President’s Office in Uganda) are allowed to offer discretionally funding to key community activities that are struggling.

(35)  Ask for advice from other peer organizations and partners on how they are coping.

(36)  Manage external relations well and avoid negative publicity. Caution staff on both internal and external information sharing as it can worsen your creditability with the community and donors.

Stay Connected

(37)  Talk to each of your staff personally to explain the situation but also show that you still value them.

(38)  Ask supervisors to be highly involved (without necessarily micro managing) and more available. In such times, interpersonal conflicts/ problems tend to rise hence need to be urgently addressed. Ask supervisors to show extra care to staff in order to avoid more stress.

(39)  Encourage social activities among staff. You can reserve a Friday evening for social activities like road workouts, internal competitions and dances, or prayer. This keeps staff together in hard times.

(40)  Create hope. Be seen by your staff to be doing your best.



Isaac Roy Kyeyune’s career spans a period of over seven years working in Uganda and across eastern Africa in the areas of: identifying funding opportunities; developing fundable concepts, proposals, and grant applications; building capacity of staff and stakeholders in resource mobilization and grant writing; setting up grants/resource mobilization offices/teams; building capacity in key institutional development issues such as strategic planning, management tools and structures, and mentorship, among others; and conference management and reporting.

Kyeyune has worked with Makerere University, Ndejje University, Uganda Cancer Institute, International Health Sciences University, many research Institutions, and over 100 non-governmental organizations, community-based organisations, and civil society networks.

Kyeyune hold a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Adult and Community Education, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Community Development and NGO Management.

Africa Roundtable: How to Get Noticed in a Sea of Thousands (19 March 2014)

With thousands of non-profits around the world touting their accomplishments, it can be difficult to get noticed by a donor. Most donors will spend less than a minute on a giving page before they decide if they want to give. Can you tell your organization's story in less than a minute and have it be compelling enough for a donor to give you money?

Many of GlobalGiving's partners struggle with this and so we've taken some of the best practices we've learned from our partners, our colleagues, and our collaborations over the years to help non-profits tell a compelling story.

We will discuss some pitfalls of organization storytelling, some highlights, and some great tips to coming up with your story for the masses.

Want to get a jump on the discussion? Add your questions, ideas and links to resources and examples in the comments below. 

Click here to register for this event

Africa Roundtable Report: Appropriate Combination of Financing and Human Capital Training for Sustainable Development

Nathaniel Houghton is the founder and director of the non-profit organization Congo Leadership Initiative, and the featured speaker at January 15th's Africa Roundatble event. The call brought together attendees from across the globe, including Tanzania, Berlin, Romania, and the United States, to discuss a pertinent issue in the development world relating to sustainble organizational practices.

Congo Leadership Initiatve's (CLI) mission is to empower young people in the Congo to take charge of their communities' and country's future. This is done through leadership trainings mentorships that not only provide entrepreneurial skills but a sense of responsibility and collaborative effort. Nathaniel first visited the Congo when he was 19, and after seeing firsthand the corruption, social inequalities, and deep-rooted issues of the country, he sought to assist the people of the Congo to tap into their amazing potential to solve these problems and catalyze change. After Congo Leadership Initiative was founded, the first training was held, which involved 16 participants. It has since grown to over 500, and is expected to continue to expand exponentially through 2014.         


The complex topic of human capital training and financing, and how to appropriately combine the two when working towards sustainable development, is one that Nathaniel and CLI have run into time and time again, and mulled over since the organization's inception. Nathaniel describes human captial training (HCT) as programs or initiatives that teach, train, and mentor future leaders, providing them with skills and tools to make changes in their communities and collaborate with others. I see this as the "teach a man to fish" idea - providing young leaders with training that will ultimately lead to revenue and societal improvements. CLI began as an HCT organization with the idea that collaboration could solve any issues facing the Congo. With over 40 projects launched so far by these young leaders, including a movie theater and community farm, this has proved to be true. However, as Nathaniel points out, this cannot be done without at least some financial aspect. Financing can be used to immediately solve a problem, bypassing collaboration. For CLI, financing needs come in the form of overheads, or costs that don't go directly to programming on the ground in the Congo. So Nathaniel's dilemma is this: why are these two concepts in conflict? How does financing's role fit into the larger picture of development and traning? How can these two concepts work together, meaning buy-in from local partners without letting finances make our decisions?

Having struggled with this issue for years, CLI has come up with several solutions that have worked for them:

  • Financing should give local leaders the space to create developmental change in their communities, and this requires a shift in how donors think about their money.

  • CLI has organizations in the Congo contribute finances as well. This is to ensure that they have buy-in and everyone has local ownership and therefore local capacity building. This has not been easy – no one likes discussing money but it’s been incredibly importatnt to build robust relationships, not just with US partners.

  • Collaboration is slow and hard, but that time needs to be built into the process, even if a group’s contributions are not helpful. That is how to create programs that are complete and robust.

  • Revenue generation through projects is very important. It can be a part of almost every project, and if we can align the social aim of projects with how they make money, CLI's mission becomes much more successful.

After Nate spoke on the topic and CLI's experiences, the floor of the roundtable was opened up for questions. Joyce, a self-described "3rd culture kid" originally from Tanzania and now living in Berlin, brought up the important idea of ICT (internet computer technologies) and how these not only foster collaboration but could possibly lower costs for CLI. Nathaniel wholeheartedly agreed with this sentiment, sharing that CLI could not have accomplished this work 10 years ago because technology was not as developed. Thanks to new innovations like Google Docs and conference software, CLI has been able to maintain relationships with local partners in the Congo and receive metrics and data from the training programs.

Peter, listening in from Berlin, posed another thought-proviking question. The Congo is one of the richest in the world, so when discussing financing, why isn't the first thought for the Congolese people to utilize their own ample resources? The government is quite corrupt, yet the people very capable. Nathaniel replied that there is indeed an incredible lack of capacity and accountability in the government, and this is one of the driving forces of the CLI program. The trainings are partially values based and deal with the responsibility of leaders. This connects young Congolese with the right morals and lets them take control of their communities and nation in an ethical way. For Congolese individuals to do this process of development, there are pre-market trainings that need to happen, and that’s what CLI provides. After their training, they do amazing things, but it’s a very different type of development than anywhere else, and therefore must be organized differently in order to be most effective.

Nathaniel and the CLI team strive to empower young people in the Congo to catalyze change, and while the issue of an HCT and financing intersection will linger, this discussion and more like it can bring CLI and other development organizations closer to solutions. This was the first Africa Roundtable event I have had the pleasure of attending, and it was a very informative and inspiring experience!

Thanks to a generous donation from Jay Hastings and the Seattle Foundation and a 50% nonprofit discount through Techsoup.org, Kabissa was able to organize the event using a new (for Kabissa) technology called GoToWebinar, which makes it much easier to organize and share online events. The event was quite successful thanks to Tobias for running it and Nathaniel for being our featured guest speaker. You can contact Nathaniel at [email protected].

If you would like to access a recording of the event, you can do so here.

For more information about Kabissa's Africa Roundtable Events, visit the Africa Roundtable page!

New Tactics in Human Rights: Join our conversation on building strong partnerships & coalitions

eLearning Africa: Make your voice heard, send us your Paper

Dear elearning enthusiasts,

Only few days left before the eLearning Africa 2014 Call for Proposals closes! 

This more than ever is the right time to review the eLearning Africa 2014 theme (http://bit.ly/18idkae) and submit your proposal (http://bit.ly/1f1BXai).

We hope to see you in Uganda!

The eLearning Africa Team 

Registration now open: 6th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue

Registration has formally commence for the 6th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue. The Conference is organized and hosted annually by New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation, a Jos, Nigeria-based registered national nonprofit, of dedicated men and women and community leaders, intentionally teaming spiritual innovators and other exemplary adults with needful youth to equip them to pass forward all they have learned as valuable, contributing agents of change in their communities.

Women Advancement Forum - WAF 2014 l May 25-29 2014 l Banjul Gambia


 It is our pleasure to invite you and your nominations to the 3rd Women Advancement Forum taking place in Banjul, Gambia, West Africa: May 25-29, 2014 at Sheraton Hotel Banjul, Gambia.

 Women Advancement Forum (WAF) – is the most attended gender conference.  WAF is a platform which recognizes the obvious fact that women advancement and empowerment is amongst the most outstanding agent to the actualization of millennium development goals (MDGS) and even beyond. Building on the success of the first and second conferences which took place in Berlin, Germany and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010 and 2013 respectively has the simple goal to create an advanced platform for the formulation of strategic and realistic approach to women socio-economic and political advancement and emancipation. The participants will be drawn from business women and me, entrepreneurs, women in politics, wife of public and political office holders, women advocacy groups, professional/career women, African women in Diaspora amongst others.

 EXHIBITION FEE: (on request).

 The WAF-mdg Awards program recognizes, celebrates, and honors achievements in socio-economic and political empowerment, advancement of women, as well as inspiring and motivating young women/girl-child. This award has a unique value; therefore offers the opportunity to honor distinguished women from Africa and around the world.

 Consider recognizing or nominating a woman today for the 2nd WAF-mdg Award – 2014.

 Subsequently, effective 2014 WAF presents new features:

a.     African Women in Diaspora moment, a special meeting session for business women, politician, and gender advocates of African origin with their counterparts living in Africa. The essence which is to facilitate joint business relationships and partnerships will be a boost towards the sustainability of the gain from WAF/MDGs beyond 2015, and foster the MDG on sustainable global networking and economic partnerships.

 b.     Establishing a market place during the forum through Exhibition opportunity for business women and entrepreneurs is another great gain at the conference. Women economic empowerment without exposure of their business to potentials customers/partners will make no much gain. You are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to establish your gains beyond 2015.

 c.     Road-show against Violence Against Women is an important aspect of the conference you cannot afford to miss. It has become a reoccurring decimal in Africa and around the globe that women are treated with disdain by some male counterparts in different forms and for different unsubstantiated reasons. It has to stop, and the campaign must be carried on even on the streets especially during a conference of this nature that brings together over 250 women from different countries. The maiden match will be in Banjul, Gambia.

 Women Advancement Forum (WAF) is unique and will remain a unique platform for deliberations and formulation of actions plans on MDGs.  It will be moments of inspiration, motivation, empowerment, advancement, emancipation and fun.

 Once again we welcome you to our “Think Gender” forum; expect great things in the city of Banjul at WAF 2014!


For sponsorship, partnership, exhibition and registration please feel free to contact us at [email protected]or [email protected]

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & LIKE US ON FB PAGE (click/copy the links):

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Women-Advancement-Forum/183085111857138

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WOMEFORUM

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/WOMEN-ADVANCEMENT-FORUM-4570185?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr

You Tube: http://youtu.be/zYUkaL5QCPs

 We look forward to welcoming you in Banjul, Gambia

Take the world's best courses, online, for free


Dear reader,

We live in an era where geographical distance is no longer an issue when we want to study at Yale, Princeton or Johns Hopkins Universities. 

There is a very new initiative - Coursera - to make available for free and for all what is called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The initiators have established quality alliances with 107 partners (Universities and other institutes) because they "believe in connecting people to a great education so that anyone around the world can learn without limits". They have put in place a nice platform for interactions with the teacher and other remote classmates. And they offer (for now) 557 courses in all the domains you could have thought of and not only in English (11 other languages are also represented)!. Currently there are 5.799.618 'Courserians' (a.k.a registered users on the website) and the figure is growing as you look at it (during the time I wrote this message, 26 more people just joined. Simply amazing!)

I am not part of the organization but I am making advocacy for it because I consider it is a high-quality resource. I have enrolled in 3 courses and based on my experience, this can bring a lot of added value through education. They also provide you with certificates provided that you respect some criteria/conditions.

I encourage you to have a look.

In solidarity,
Diana Cocoru


Regarded as one of Africa's foremost leadership authorities, Dr. Patson Dzamara is a native of Zimbabwe. He is a vibrant voice in the corridors of leadership, emancipation, human development and empowerment.

By the grace of God, he is a philosopher, leader, motivational speaker, life coach, educator, author, management and leadership consultant, career coach, team builder, counselor and a philanthropist.

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