How Training An NGO Team Completely New To Fundraising Became Such A Rewarding Experience!

This morning I woke up feeling restless. Maybe it was the two one hour each, intense back-to-back workouts I did last evening that led to intense soreness and thus, restless slumber or maybe the other couple of things that have been playing soccer with my peace.

After taking myself for a short drive, a 15-minute meditation, I decided to do what I often do when down and out, journal my current feelings, try and deep dive into why, what and ifs and revisit experiences and days that bring me out of the state.

The little piece you are reading is a byproduct of that reminiscing.

June 2021, we were all getting over the ravages of the second wave of COVID, having worked with single minded determination to heal and save as many as we could; successful in some instances after long battles and rounds of prayers and despite that losing some dear ones. Life needed a new turn, some hope, some new beginning. And, the opportunity arrived in a little ray of sunshine, a gentleman who often gives me freelance work, called me.

A diverse group

“A bunch of people from an established non–profit in Bangladesh need to be trained on the basics of Fundraising (FR), would you be interested, the money isn’t much though”?

What does the NGO do, how seasoned is the team, what aspects do they need training in, how long will the training last and for how many people via what modality, are some of the questions I asked. Hang on, I was told, are you agreeable in principle, first tell me that? Of course, I am generally up for a new challenge, and new learnings.

I was stoked about the opportunity to train a seasoned bunch of humans, with their hearts in the right place. 10 of the oldest and most deeply integrated members of the organisation, were to be coached. They were different ages with the difference between them, extending to as much as 18 years. A mixed bag indeed, from backgrounds as diverse as finance, projects and fundraising.

Since its inception the organisation had been supported by institutional donors; now over 20 years hence, a long-standing donor wanted to empower the NGO to learn to stand on its own feet.

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Empowering an NGO to raise their own funds

The USP of the organisation was that they ran schools, modern schools following the new age system of education, and not the traditional sort one would think Bangladesh would have. The NGO was being given a full year to understand fundraising and how each employee, volunteer, human involved with the organisation must uphold the mantle of raising resources across their level of interaction, for fundraising, just like any other part of the organisation is an ongoing process. How else can we continue our efforts towards helping the world be better, help the donors find and identify their cause and believe in it?

We put in almost three week’s effort, understanding Bangladesh’s regional perspective, the work that was being done, the other non–profits in the same area of intervention, identifying CSR, individual donors, institutional donors that could be potential partners, overcoming the language barrier to develop a common language for fundraising – as we would go through the weeklong course process.

At the first interaction, we realised that the structure we had created would need to be tweaked, as the team consisted of those who were completely new to this world. They first had to be informed that a path existed, and only then could the path be walked.

How we went about this process

We identified one person who became our translator, representative for all team members. At the end of each day of training, we would brainstorm on what went right and what could have been done differently; additionally, what were the supplementary resources that we needed to add to the exhaustive document for the team to refer to.

Since many were introduced for the first time to the term fundraising, we had to start from the basics, giving ideas, explanations, examples, drawing on stories from within the country as we moved forward.

The approach was dual, working on skill enhancement and confidence building. These future fundraisers had to not just believe in themselves but also that there was potential to raise funds from within the country as well outside; an approach that served the binary purpose of building self-confidence and ability along with knowledge & skill sets.

Slowly, the hesitant men, hitherto communicating with only my male colleagues, opened to me, started counter questioning, and engaging in healthy discussions and thus, at the end of Day 2 I finally became a trainer on her toes, not just a monotonous rambler, a thrilling moment and onward journey for me.

The dichotomy? Days that were exhausting were also energizing and uplifting for me, taught me and refined my interactions. In the process of imparting and sharing all I knew, had learned, and gathered for them, I understood much.

Today, almost one year down the line, as I wonder how they are faring, I still feel the satisfaction wash over me, the contentment of hopefully, creating new fundraisers, sharing with them the various channels of fundraising, the specific communication that works, the methodology of approach, the case for support and more.

As a human I loved sowing the seed, and hope that they will blossom to their highest potential. The work I do for the nonprofit sector is rewarding at a deep level, the human interactions are enriching, and the exchange of knowledge and cultures something that warms the heart. Not just for the moment but continually, as I walk down the memory lane again and yet again!

Image source: Freepik


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About the Author

Life Begins At 40 by, Sanjana Grover

Sanjana is a budding actor and a Tarot Reader. She is also independent consultant for the social sector. Her specialiaation and passion lie in helping non-profits fundraise for their development activities and a short read more...

10 Posts | 13,897 Views

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