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Five Steps to Filter Your Messaging for Sustainable Funding

Building sustained funding streams for your non-profit organizations is mission-critical.

In the ever-evolving landscape of philanthropy and non-profit work, it's time for funder facing activists to embrace a mindset that transcends the traditional notion of impact as a mere final outcome. While achieving specific outcomes and making a difference is undoubtedly essential, it's equally crucial to think beyond these immediate results and focus on sustainability - a shifting definition (but that's for another blog).


For too long, NGO's have focused on measuring success solely through the lens of immediate, tangible results. Don't get us wrong; these outcomes are vital milestones on the path to change. However, they are but one part of a much larger, more intricate tapestry. To truly accelerate social progress, a deeper perspective is called for.


The term "sustainability" now extends far beyond its conventional association with environmental practices. In the context of non-profits and philanthropy, sustainability is about ensuring that the positive changes we create today continue to flourish, adapt, and thrive long into the future. It's about asking the profound question: How can we transform sporadic successes into sustained, systemic change?


Sustainability in South Africa, when viewed through the kaleidoscopic lense of funder and community relations, encompasses a wide range of interconnected factors and considerations. South Africa is diverse and complex with various challenges and opportunities, and evaluating sustainability requires a comprehensive approach.


Here's a high level breakdown of what sustainability looks like in South Africa from these two perspectives:


Community Perspective:

  1. Sustainable Livelihoods: In South African communities, economic sustainability often revolves around job creation, income generation, and poverty alleviation. Sustainable communities strive to provide opportunities for decent work and ensure that residents have access to stable sources of income.

  2. Peace: Building and maintaining social cohesion is a key aspect of sustainability. It involves fostering inclusive communities where diverse groups can coexist peacefully, addressing social inequalities, and promoting social justice.

  3. Human Rights: Sustainable communities in South Africa prioritize access to essential services such as clean water, sanitation, healthcare, nutrition and education. Ensuring that all members of the community have access to these services is crucial.

  4. Environment: South Africa's rich natural resources and biodiversity make environmental sustainability a significant concern. Communities often engage in conservation efforts to protect the environment, mitigate climate change impacts, and promote responsible land and resource use.

  5. Identity: Cultural sustainability is essential in a country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage. Communities work to preserve their traditions, languages, and historical sites, fostering a sense of identity and pride.

Scorecard Perspective:

  1. Economic Indicators: From a scorecard perspective, sustainability is measured through economic indicators such as GDP growth, employment rates, and income distribution. A sustainable economy aims to balance growth with equitable wealth distribution.

  2. Social Metrics: Social sustainability is assessed by tracking indicators like access to healthcare, education, housing, and social services. Social cohesion, community engagement, and safety also play a role in evaluating sustainability.

  3. Environmental Factors: Environmental sustainability is evaluated by examining factors such as carbon emissions, water quality, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable land use. Scorecards often include metrics related to renewable energy adoption and waste management.

  4. Governance and Policies: Effective governance, transparency, and the presence of policies that support sustainability are essential. Scorecards assess the quality of governance, adherence to environmental regulations, and the effectiveness of social programs.

  5. Innovation and Resilience: Sustainability scorecards consider innovation and resilience in the face of challenges, such as climate change and economic shifts. This includes efforts to promote sustainable technologies and adaptive strategies.

Sustainability in South Africa is not a one-size-fits-all concept, as different communities and regions may have unique challenges and priorities.


Note that we have not begun to dip our toes into the realm ESG and the requirements and development opportunities this presents.


This paradigm shift is not just a trend; it's a necessity. In an era of rapid societal shifts, unforeseen global challenges, and dynamic donor expectations, sustainability is the cornerstone of enduring impact. It's the catalyst that propels us beyond the confines of momentary victories and empowers us to create lasting, transformative change.


In this blog post, we've curated a five-step checklist to filter your messaging in order to get (and hold) your targeted funders' attention.


These steps will empower your organization to effectively communicate its mission and vision to potential donors, all while taking into account the evolving landscape of social and environmental responsibility.


Step 1: Whats going on?

Start by providing an honest and clear assessment of the current challenges and needs within your community or cause. Use data, personal stories, and relevant statistics to create a vivid, up-to-date picture. Transparency and clarity are essential in building trust with potential donors. Additionally, actively listen to your potential funder's sustainability priorities in today's rapidly changing world. Understand their evolving goals and how your organization aligns with their current sustainability strategies.


Step 2: What do you understand impact and sustainability to be?

Clearly articulate your non-profit's impact and path to sustainability. State your organization's mission, specific initiatives, and how they align with your overarching goals. Describe the positive changes you intend to create within your community or cause, keeping in mind the challenges and opportunities of the modern world. Set clear objectives and explain how they're relevant in today's context.


Step 3: Showcase your adaptive capacity

Acknowledge that unpredictability is a constant in the modern landscape. In this section, outline your non-profit's adaptability and contingency plans. How will you respond to unforeseen challenges or shifts in the world around us? Show potential donors that you are agile and ready to overcome obstacles, ensuring their contributions will make a meaningful impact in today's dynamic environment.


Step 4: The lineup

Highlight the individuals driving your non-profit's success, including your dedicated team, passionate volunteers, and strategic partners. Share their stories and emphasize their values, attitudes, abilities, and track records in making a difference in the modern world. Understand your funder's commitment to social and environmental responsibility in today's society and demonstrate how your team's values align with theirs.


Step 5: Talk about the money

Provide a transparent financial overview tailored for today's world. Clearly state your funding needs, how you'll allocate resources, and the expected impact of your financial investments in the context of current challenges and opportunities. Include budget projections, innovative fundraising strategies, and sustainability plans. Show potential donors that their contributions will be used wisely to create lasting change in today's ever-changing landscape.


By applying this filter your non-profit will move towards crafting funding proposals that speak to the moment and the future, convey your dedication to creating lasting social impact while aligning with sustainability expectations.


Effective communication, transparency, and a compelling narrative are key elements in securing the support your organization needs to thrive and accelerate social progress.


This is how we #GrowZA

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