Fund-raising with Smile

Civil Society Online (20 May 2013)

Smile Foundation held a two-day workshop entitled, ‘Empowering Grassroots,’ in New Delhi to train smaller NGOs on fundraising, sustainability, communication for brand- building, accountability, transparency, effective leadership and scaling up of organisational competencies.

Twenty-six grassroots NGOs, selected after a screening process, attended the training programme. They came from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Seven NGOs who have worked with Smile for over 10 years made presentations. Jupiter Academy and Nai Disha informed the 26 grassroots NGOs about their struggling years, the strategies they employed to collect funds and how Smile helped them out.

“We have designed this meeting to ensure that all NGOs who are going to be part of Smile will learn how to be self-sustainable,” said Vikram Singh Verma, COO of Smile Foundation. “Communication and leadership always bedevil new NGOs. A basic skill and knowledge of communication is absolutely necessary when you have to pitch your idea to collect funds.”

“Just like a father brings up his child until he is old enough to earn, we also like to help grassroots NGOs until they grow up and become self sustainable,” said Verma.

Collecting funds is the biggest problem for NGOs. “We had ideas but were confused about implementing them into real action. We had limited know- how on how to draft a professional proposal, evaluate a report and professionally manage programmes running on the field. Most importantly we did not know how to generate funds at local level till Smile stepped in to help,” said a representative of one of the NGOs.

The grassroots NGOs said that the session on local fund-raising was very useful. They realised they could raise funds from local small and medium enterprises, the middle-class and high net individuals.It was not essential to focus just on funding from companies.

“We are not only a funding organisation. We simply provide a starting amount to genuine grassroots NGOs. But we ensure that the NGO becomes self-sustainable through training. We also provide them the infrastructure required to achieve accountability, scalability and leadership,” explained Verma.

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