CSOs Urged To Diversify Their Source Of Funding

Charles Kojo Vandyk, Head of Capacity Development Unit of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) has stressed the need for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to begin looking at diversifying their source of funding since the overreliance on official aid funding with all the associated restrictions and conditions is an indicator of concern.
Speaking at the WACSI shared learning convening on alternative funding models for CSOs in Accra on Monday, Charles Kojo Vandyk averred that a financially sustainable NGO is one that can continue with its core work and meet its mission even if external donor funding is withdrawn.
“However, experience tells us that financial sustainability is crucial for the long-term survival and effectiveness of all types of NGOs and civil society organisations,” he stated.
Making a presentation on strategies to strengthen the financial sustainability of CSOs in Africa, he mentioned that since the challenge facing CSOs is how to achieve such levels of financial sustainability, exploring more different sources of funds is the sure way of making them more financially self-sufficient and sustainable.
He said: “financial sustainability of an NGO/CSO depends on its ability to diversify income and access new funds.”
According to Charles Kojo Vandyk CSOs have over the years depended on donor funding which are considered restricted funds because in their nature, those funds can only be used for specific purposes that have been agreed with a specific donor.
He stated that is time CSOs consider dwelling more on unrestricted funds that can be used for any purpose that helps the CSO to achieve its mission, programs and projects.
Speaking to GO News in an interview at the sidelines of the event, Charles Kojo Vandyk averred that CSOs need to shift that power from donors and look more at mobilizing funds within, to give them more power to pursue their projects and be independent of donor controls.
“We need to diversify our source of income. We all know that our major funding is from donors and it becomes much challenging pursuing our projects. But if we are able to solicit for funding within our own reach I believe we can go a long way in achieving our goals,” he said.
He also pointed out that an over-dependence on restricted funds is an indicator of potential unsustainability of a CSO stressing that it is not just about developing new fundraising campaigns or writing clever funding proposals but as much about building relationships, risk management, and basic good financial practice.
He mentioned that CSOs need to invest in developing and maintaining strong stakeholder relationships including with donors, supporters, volunteers, staff, and beneficiaries and effectively assess and manage the risks associated with funding and financial resources.
He said, CSOs should strategically manage and finance all organisational costs and overheads and build sufficient financial reserves so as to be able to even work without so much reliance on external donors.
Charles Kojo Vandyk also believed that CSOs need to build their capacities to be able to tell their stories and get people they are serving understand what they do. This way, he said people within the communities they serve will be ready to fund some of their projects.
“Many people do not know the work the CSOs are doing so one thing we are looking at is building the capacity of CSOs to tell their story and tell the people how accountable they are. This will build that trust and interest in the people to be able to fund some of these projects,” he said.
He added that for civil society to fulfill its role of empowering people to challenge and change the inequality that affects them, civil society organisations need to be effective, sustainable, entrenched and legitimate in their own communities.
According to him, funders need to back their work by addressing weaknesses in programming, capacity building, and funding.
“They also need to engage with the regulatory and political conditions which affect civil society organisations,” he stated.
Touching on some major funding constraints CSOs face, Charles Vandyk enumerated that CSOs only get funding for specific projects but not for administrative purposes which makes it difficult for CSOs to retain staff and run the day to day affairs of the organization.
He explained that the situation is causing majority of CSO staff to leave the organization immediately after the end of a project.
But he said, “We need to change that orientation to look more into having an organization that can be able to stand.”


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