When Director and Co-Founder of Thanda, Angela Larkan, attended Funders’ Round South Africa in 2017, she knew that the trip from Durban to Johannesburg would be worth the time and expense. A one-day event hosting a throng of potential funders in one room – it was a no-brainer.  She was determined to find the funding she needed, and she did. Today, Thanda is soaring, thanks to a strategic partnership between the organisation and several willing funders.

Thanda, established ten years ago in rural Mtwalume, on the South Coast of KZN,  offers after-school programmes for vulnerable children and youth.  Their simple business model uses existing resources in the community to impact those who most need help.

‘We use local schools to host after-school sessions with children, hiring youth from within the community to lead these developmental programmes,’ she said.

The funding scenario in South Africa is much as it is elsewhere in the world currently – constrained, conservative, a little depressed.  This is a natural consequence of the global economic downturn and the ever-increasing demands placed upon corporates.  Conditions are not idyllic for the more-or-less 16 000 registered and active Non-Profits and NGOs in South Africa.

Perception is so often a determinant of outcomes for NGOs, and has been working against South Africa’s NGO sector ever since the Life Esidimeni disaster, where over 170 patients died in illegally operated NGOs.  A second factor working against a readiness to fund is that the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) sector believes that some causes are simply more deserving than others – apartheid’s legacy is still revealing its devastating effects, and tends to take priority. Making matters worse is that, since the dawn of democracy in our country,  many funders in the US and other countries have withdrawn funding.  Global organisations insist that NGOs raise funds locally before they will even consider lending support.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MY NGO?
Funders’ round was launched in 2017, in answer to the cries of both frustrated funders and floundering NGOs; funders complained about the prospect of having to wade through poorly put-together proposals from NGOs and NPOs, while NGO representatives said they were struggling to identify and reach the people who might make their programmes fly with much-needed financial backing.

In a nutshell, Funders’ Round is a one-day programme bringing together funders and social sector representatives. Funders get to explain to NGOs and NPOs who they fund, when they fund, what they fund and why they fund.  Social sector representatives benefit from a rare opportunity to talk to potential funders and to engage in valuable networking.

Angela Larkan explains that the major reason she attended Funders’ Round last year was the opportunity it represented to learn about new funding possibilities and to connect directly with potential funders. ‘You have to spend time and energy seeking out the right partnerships,’ she added.

Angela and her team have been focused and specific about where they are taking their organisation this year.  With the help of insights gained at Funders’ Round last year, they have secured funding from ten national funders.

As someone who has reaped the benefits of excellent communication, focused proposal writing and a dogged determination, Angela will be sharing her funding insights at this year’s event. Her 45-minute workshop explains to NGOs how to get funders to say ‘yes’.

‘We will discuss general formats for winning proposals – including the structure that wins and gets us noticed amongst others.  We will focus on making sure that your story builds a case for your organisation or project, describing your programme. It is important to realise that proposals are a story.  You have to tell a captivating story and it all starts with the opening line.

‘You also have to make sure that you adhere to standard proposal writing protocols, such as outlining goals and objectives and, most critically, explaining how impact will be assessed. No proposal is winning without a budget.  So, we will cover all this and we also will give key tips for gaining and maintaining partnerships with funders.’

When asked if there was one thing we could do to improve Funders’ Round this year, she said, ‘If you could invite more funders to speak, that would be great!’

So we’re excited to let you know that we’re gearing up for a minimum of ten funders at the 2019 Funder’s Round. The event will be big. No matter how many funders we host, however, chances are that you will gain from the connections made, funders spoken to and tips learned on compiling winning proposals.

Tickets for Funders Round 2019, will be sold at a discount rate – so don’t miss this year’s event. Date: 25 September. Venue: Wanderers Protea, Time: 10 am to 16:00 pm.

To book for this year’s event, click here.