Black non-profit organisations are fighting for air as they currently feel the financial squeeze. Funding, funding and more funding is what nearly every non-profit organisation wants or fears they may not receive. The other pulling factor is that their valuable work is not being recognised. So what you will find is that many organisations end up defunct due to lack of funding, support and recognition.
Now you may agree or disagree but if you remember earlier this year the government made decisions to cut the budgets of voluntary sector grants despite their claim to be huge supporters of non-profit organisations in communities I expect more cuts to follow gradually.
How can they stay afloat? Well, relying on government grants from the London Development Agency should not be the one and only source of revenue as many non-profit organisations know. There are so many other sources of funding available including Comic Relief, the Big Lottery Fund, The Capital Fund, Greater London Enterprise, Urban Partnership Group, London’s Future 500 and many more. For Black social enterprises this is key but the participation and support of the community is even more so important.
Supporting what we have in the community makes a huge difference. The more numbers we have the greater non-profit organisations are seen to be benefiting the community through their work. By this happening funding becomes a little easier as people, particularly funders, can see that there is a need for this service in the community. It sounds simple but a lot of effort is put into establishing social enterprises and it is the enterprise which sometimes gets overlooked.
Just recently a friend invited me to support a project he was representing ? the Daddy Cool Project www.daddycoolproject.org.uk via Facebook. A valuable project in the community for young men who are non-fathers, fathers and expectant fathers. For a project like this we should be lining up to support their efforts if we want a strong male community of future fathers.
But as ventures like the Daddy Cool Project will realise non-profit organisations also have their work to do to attract those in the community. They must now start seeing their enterprises as ‘brands’ or even the leading face of the company must be seen as a ‘brand’ to attract people in the community.
The term ‘brand’ is now frequently being used to refer to individuals and businesses. ?It is not the most attractive word but it sums up what you need to be in order for your valuable service to be seen and heard. Your ‘brand’ will more than likely keep you afloat attracting a swarm of keen funders. Remember the more you are seen and the more people you are supporting, eventually the more your ‘brand’ will be seen worth investing in.
So what do non-profits need to do?
Well, here are some quick thoughts of action:
Annual reports are essential ? they show where you started, what you have done and where you are going. Every non-profit should at least have one ? you will be surprised that not every organisation has one.
Social media ? Do not over populate yourself to say you are connected to Twitter and Facebook. Use the form of media that you feel will be most valuable to you and utilize it well.
Build your organization as a brand. See your CEO as a brand ? build representations in the community, see yourself as an expert in your field and build that brand in the community as an advisor, a commentator and expert in your field. Your branding will build your organizations representation and ultimately make you stand out to funders.
Finally, what do we need to do?
Well, lack of support will eventually result in broken communities, so we obviously need to do the opposite.
Support our non-profits, go to workshops, become committee members, encourage others to programs that will benefit them. Growth in numbers creates funding and stabilizes valuable non-profits in the community to benefit future generations.
The writer of this piece, Samantha Watson, is a journalist and media strategy consultant. She is the director of Sawa Communications (www.sawacommunications.co.uk).