From Greece to India to Uganda, GlobalGiving’s field travelers, project evaluators, staff members, and volunteers visited nonprofits in every corner of the earth this year. I asked them to pinpoint some of the biggest challenges nonprofits face and offer a solution from their travels. Here’s their advice.
Skye: Eastern Europe
Challenge: Government corruption Solution: Nonprofits in Eastern Europe and donors, foundations, and companies who support them should keep tabs on the shifting political climate, on a country by country basis.
Challenge: Indian organizations are dealing with more crowdfunding options than ever—there are now nearly 20 platforms in the country! Organizations can suffer from not knowing which to use. Solution: Examine the different benefits of each platform using this worksheet and find the one that best covers your needs.
Challenge: Organizations are doing similar work, but they’re not connected to each other. Solution:Partner with GlobalGiving to see nonprofits nearby and what type of work they are doing. There could be great coordination to help each organization achieve their mission!
“We met one organization that had so much storage space and in-kind donations, but not enough volunteers. The next organization we visited had so many volunteers, but not any storage space or enough clothes, food or water. Both were servicing the homeless population and refugees in Greece and had never heard of the other, even though there were in the same city!” — Emily
Challenge: Need for clear monitoring and evaluation tools to collect data and showcase impact Solution: One organization I visited, S.O.U.L. Foundation in the Bujigali Falls region of Uganda, demonstrated a great model for measuring impact. Project leader Muganda Hassan spoke on its education program and cited giving classes a pre- and post-test to measure subject mastery, as well as a follow-up test after two or three months. Documenting impact is powerful and, coupled with strong storytelling, can be a winning combination for a fundraising ask.
Maria: South America
Challenge: Language barriers. 90% of the nonprofits I visited were run by a local team that does not speak English, so accessing training and filling out applications for funding in English can be overwhelming. Solution: Ask virtual volunteers to translate materials, or recruit English-speaking volunteers to visit your project.
Challenge: An ever-changing environment where nonprofits’ legal status, which dictates their eligibility for domestic and international support, is constantly in flux. Solution: Inform fellow nonprofits of changes in legal requirements and collaborate with existing institutions to ensure transparency in the nonprofit registration process and regulations. “This undoubtedly will not solve the complex and heartbreaking tensions across the country, but could be a way to make their mission and potential impact more achievable,” Sarah said.
“The organizations in Myanmar and the people that make them up are fiercely resilient and incredibly deserving of support. Their ability to navigate an uncertain social sector and new government—while keeping their mission top of mind—proves their strength as a nonprofit community.” — Sarah
Challenge: Failure of “Big Aid” for disaster relief. After the devastating earthquake in 2015, thousands of INGOs came to Nepal to help with disaster relief and rebuilding. Two years later, it’s disappointing to report that the situation is nowhere close to being better relative to the resources contributed since 2015. Solution: Organizations like GlobalGiving that have made a commitment to supporting local grassroots-level work should continue to strive to make that happen regardless of the immense challenges.
Celine: South Africa
Challenge: Competition among the 165,000 registered organizations in South Africa. This competitive nature breaks down the sector instead of building it up. Solution: Instead of working against each other, organizations should collaborate for the greater good of the community.
Challenge: Lack of local fundraising support. Presence of large INGOs gives the perception that all NGOs are well-funded, so people are reluctant to donate to local NGOs. Solution:Radical transparency. One quick way to do this could be for an organization to display recent financial reports on their websites for donors to see exactly how the money is used.
Challenge: Local supporters want to donate, but can’t always afford a $10 donation, which is the minimum amount on GlobalGiving.org. Solution: Project leaders could designate a supporter to collect smaller donations from donors, and the supporter could make a donation on behalf of everyone.
Challenge: Knowledge of GlobalGiving’s tools and resources is inconsistent. Some nonprofits know all about them, while others do not. Solution: Take some time to learn from your nonprofit peers and explore GlobalGiving’s tools and resources. Magy, our GlobalGiving mentor in Bulgaria, gives her peers tips on marketing their organizations. Once, she even hosted a workshop in Bulgaria to help people learn more about GlobalGiving!
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