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However, the challenge today needed immediate action and to the tune of several lakhs, a sum that no single High Net Worth Individual had ever given to us or been asked for hitherto as unrestricted funds.
It was the year 2010, we were yet a small non–profit establishing our roots, and the horizon was looking bright. Our fundraisers in several cities of the country over a period of two years, had been fairly successful, providing us with unrestricted funds to start the projects that the board had zeroed in on.
We had successfully established corporate partnerships, prepared course curriculum, set up internship methodologies, and started remedial education and skill training centres.
But almost towards the end of the year our General Secretary said, “Sanjana, let’s gather the team. We are short on funds and paying staff salaries is going to be a challenge coming two months”.
My focus was, as is expected in a start-up of any sort, multi-dimensional. It included, working with the board in strategizing and giving shape to set programmes, hiring and managing teams, setting systems, raising funds from CSR mandates. All this while functioning closely with the events team in ensuring a smooth fundraiser towards the specified end goal.
Times were challenging and exciting, days were long and meaningful. It was the last quarter of the year, and here comes a new challenge putting a spanner in our ongoing work.
I was and have been more of an instinctive fundraiser. All my fundraising is geared towards business development via the relationships I have built.
Relationships have been the foundation of my existence, the exchange of information, thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. Disagreements and agreements have proven to be transformative, leading to the realisation that all change, small or large scale, depends on social context; without it they remain but, ideas.
We are emotional, feeling humans relying strongly on intuition and perception. Cognitive thinking alone is not optimal in instances of emotional moments, thus, failing to give us the expected outcomes, at times.
During my stint representing one of the founders of the office at this non – profit amongst others, I had focussed largely on building a rapport with high net worth individuals. That the board entrusted me with the task to manage relationships was a matter of great honour for someone with next to little experience in fundraising then.
However, as they say the dots always connect backwards. I realise today that my work in the hospitality sector had groomed me in social skills for interaction with High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI’s), while providing a platform in the non-profit space that ensured true heart to heart communication.
Buddhism has taught me that life is all about our ability to harmonize with those around us. It also taught me that it is also about how to become individuals who can bring people together, technology, tools, knowledge, learning all help in fructifying this.
We as an entity qualified a major donor as one donating 1Lakh INR. The definition of a major donor is not carved in stone, each organisation can qualify a major donor basis their own set criteria.
The last two years had seen me interact with some major donors, in my case HNWI’s; I had been busy building interpersonal relationships resulting in multiple gifts of increasing value.
However, the challenge today needed immediate action and to the tune of several lakhs, a sum that no individual HNWI had ever given to us or been asked for hitherto as unrestricted funds. It was a matter of sink or swim!
Of the calls made, one donor agreed for a late evening meeting. I reached armed with the ask and relevant paperwork. It was a time to practice the strategy of “faith in higher power”, combined with human action. I was heard patiently, all details graciously accepted and informed that I would be reverted to by later that night. By about 930-10 pm I got a call stating that the driver would reach me the next day before noon with a cheque, the amount wasn’t mentioned and I did not ask.
Come next morning 11:30 am the driver came with the envelope. A bag full of mixed emotions coupled with anxiety and anticipation, we opened the envelope. Lo & behold! We were sorted for three months! The envelope offered us UR funds three times the ask!
Adopting the famous words: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. ~ Helen Keller
Image source: Freepik, provided by author
Sanjana is an independent consultant for the social sector and CSR space. Her specialization and passion lie in helping non-profits fundraise for their development activities; supporting MSMEs, and large corporates in identifying CSR objectives read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
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Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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