Dobro 2016 discusses how to handle NGOs in crisis

Dobro 2016: How to attract donations and manage a foundation in crisis

Moscow 11/04/2016

The ‘Dobro 2016’ conference takes place in Moscow. Experts are discussing how charitable foundations survive in crisis, which sources of funding to use and how to manage an organisation in such situations.

Falling incomes and reduced purchasing power have affected the operations of charitable organisations. Elena Topoleva, Director of the Agency for Social Information said that a crisis not only poses a challenge to foundations, but also provides new opportunities. She believes that nowadays people are becoming more kind-hearted, increasingly expressing their willingness to do charity work and provide voluntary assistance.

According to the Director of the Konstantina Khabensky charitable foundation, Alena Meshkova, a crisis offers an opportunity for implementing new ideas and achieving new results. In the search for new ways of attracting funding, a programme for everyday philanthropy was created for the business sector. It implies that the products of companies are integrating a charitable component, so that the customer can easily become a philanthropist. One of the participants in the programme is SKB-Bank. It released a charity card, a portion of funds from which is sent to the Khabensky Foundation. Furthermore, clients can make donations when using banking services. Consequently, the bank doesn’t give their own resources but becomes an intermediary between the client and the charitable foundation. Representatives of the Khabensky Foundation argued that clients, companies and the foundation gain from this activity. In the space of a month, the programme at the SKB-Bank received more than 2 million roubles for the foundation. Meshkov said, “this is really important because it will not only solve problems in a certain area or direction as a result but also bring a systematic increase in the number of people involved in supporting charities and this is one of the main goals of the whole sector.”

During a crisis, it is convenient to have a diversified source of funds, said Sophia Zyryanov, Head of Department for mass fundraising of the ‘Give Life’ charity foundation. One of these sources can be voluntary fundraising, when volunteers from the foundation organise shares in the organisation themselves and attract donations. The British foundation Macmillan is a pioneer of voluntary fundraising, collecting 98% of their donations in this way. The St. Jude Foundation uses this resource, helping children with oncological diseases. The ‘Give Life’ foundation implemented voluntary fundraising in 2014 at the request of volunteers from the foundation. In the first year, the programme collected more than 10 million roubles.

In order to develop voluntary fundraising, it is necessary to evaluate the risk of fraud being carried out in the name of the foundation. ‘Give Life’ has developed clear rules with restrictions on the people who can collect funds, the place where they can collect (this is not allowed in open squares, in shopping centres) and the means of collection. ‘Give Life’ volunteers can arrange concerts and fairs, which are time-limited and use the most transparent ways of making donations. With the help of electronic payment, a foundation can create a database of donor information and use an online donation counter. Join in with voluntary fundraising on the platform for friends of the foundation.

It is more difficult for regional charitable organisations to attract funding than federal foundations. Often, companies accumulate their budget in Moscow and make decisions there about how to share the resources between regional foundations. Furthermore, larger foundations are starting to work in the regions, which attract business representatives to working with them in a much more successful way than regional foundations.

The Director of the Novosibirsk foundation ‘Sunny Town’, Marina Aksenova, suggests regional charitable organisations pay attention to small and medium business. A fitness club became one of the partners of ‘Sunny Town’, giving 50 roubles to the foundation programme with each membership. Charitable foundations can also ask companies in the regions to allocate money to charity funds that they spend on promotional products.

The Manager of the educational project for the non-commercial partnership of trainers and consultants ‘Development Group’, Grigory Martishin considers that in times of crisis, NGOs must create and develop an effective team. Not all NGOs are aware of the importance of this resource. According to a ‘Development Group’ survey, only 10% of heads of NGOs said that their main problem is staff and experts. Instead, they said it was the lack of funding and lack of support from the authorities. In the field of business, three times as many leaders recognise the leadership role of the team in the development of the organisation. If there is an effective team, all other problems will be resolved, including money, according to Martishin.

Lack of trust, inattention to results, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and fear of conflict are among the main problems within a team. It is possible to arrive at solutions to these problems through training specialists in the field of business. The programme ‘ABOUT НКО_2.0’ provides non-profit organisations training for managers in leadership skills, conducts master classes and consultations.

“If you take all the best bits from a business and stay with these, your work will benefit,” says the deaf-blind assistance ‘Con-nection’ foundation’s Executive Director Tatiana Konstantinova. “I am pleased to see that NGOs are getting more professionals from the business sector who understand how to build processes, budget and plan so that the accounting of foundations works in a more professional way.”

“NGOs are run by competent people in their fields. They are dedicated and put a lot into what they do. But we must admit that they are not always professional managers. They should allow for exchange of experience, know what is effective in business and that there is a lot to learn, which they can then apply in their organisations and make them more effective. The efficacy of a team will move their organisation forward,” Martishin highlighted.

Author: Olga Vorobeva



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