Local NGOs and Local Philanthropy – A natural match or… not quite?

Thinking about how to introduce and support undertaking more fundraising activities for mobilization of local resources to NGOs from Macedonia, CIRa in 2007 introduced so called “Philanthropy Development Grants (PDG)” under USAID funded CSSP- type of challenge grants where we offered to match all funds raised from local sources up to 5000 US$. Most of 13 organizations supported, succeed in their fundraising efforts (total of around 50.000 US$ from local resources raised) and especially they have stressed positive impact that their local fundraising efforts made to increasing their visibility on local level. The reaction of one NGO that was not so successful (only 525 US$ raised out of Silent Auction they organized) sharing their disappointment was” if we spend a month in project proposal development, than we will have raised 70.000 US$, and that for us organizing local fundraising event is simply wasting of time”. Except few organizations that have their annual budget covered from individual and corporate donations (i.e. Borka-local association that fight against breast cancer), most NGOs in Macedonia still think like NGO from example described above and believe that they will receive grant from remaining grant programs of international donors.

It is paradox, that civil society willing to mobilize citizens around important societal issues, is not successful in mobilizing resources from citizens. This situation is part of the negative outcomes of the support of the international development programs in Macedonia- we have strengthened NGOs to be very professional in service delivery an all areas of life in society, but they are not able to connect and ask support from  citizens and local communities in addressing the key issues.    

From CIRa’s analysis of the NGO’s capacity for local fundraising from November 2011 (see the chart below), it might be seen that 80% of the funds in NGO sector comes from international development programs. In same time only 0,44% are being raised from donations of individuals and 2,48% from business sector.  Local and Central Government funds have been on level to 5%. It is interesting to notice that self-financing activities (membership and economic activities) are 10 %.

For NGOs both individuals and businesses remain a largely untapped resource. Most of NGOs have not developed systematic strategies to include community members, business leaders, local institutions, and the local government in their efforts to meet community needs and create a strong and sustainable civil society in the Republic of Macedonia. The fact that less than 10% of donations and sponsorships from local business sector goes to NGOs, shows that NGOs are not recognized as key players in philanthropy field. 

It is obvious that there is a widespread absence of organizational and fundraising strategy among NGOs when it comes to requesting donations from local sources, and a reluctance to approach the public as a source of funding. From our work with local NGOs can be concluded that often NGOs still do not consider local resources as an important source of funding for their activities. Reason behind that position is that there is a still available funding from international or local re-granting programs that are much easier to get rather to organize quite challenging and intensive activities of local fundraising. Even though some skills are developed among NGOs for performing local fundraising activities, not many organizations have integrated them into their annual plans for raising funds. Usually when one organization undertakes a local fundraising event or activity, they are disappointed from the results, because of small amount collected. Due to lack of personnel that work on local fundraising, weak networking with local communities and key stakeholders as well as not developed base of supporters, NGOs are not successful in their local fundraising activities. Also NGOs have not very good communication skills developed needed for local fundraising activities as well as activities for recognition of their local donors (individuals and companies).

We hope that decreasing of funding from international development programs, will have as a result more and more activities by local NGOs to be focused on asking individuals and business to support core activities and services that NGOs have established and that contribute to local community development in all fields. Until than other actors (public institutions and local business) will be ahead of NGOs when we think about positive influence on philanthropy development in Macedonia. 

Zoran Stojkovski is Executive Director of Center for Institutional Development (CIRa) which is among first organizations in Macedonia that has started to work on philanthropy development as one of its three strategic goals.. More on CIRa you can find on http://www.cira.org.mk.

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Zoran Stojkovski