COVID-19 Reveals Local Fundraising Capacity as Civil Society’s Weakest Link In West Africa

COVID-19 Reveals Local Fundraising Capacity as Civil Society’s Weakest Link In West Africa

Local Fundraising is a recurrent challenge for civil society actors in West Africa. Currently, traditional donors are seeing their funding mechanisms being disrupted due to the ongoing crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that more than ever, it is imperative that civil society mobilises local resources and adopts indigenous sustainability models to be more robust, resilient and gain the autonomy it deserves to challenge the prevailing difficulties that the coronavirus presents.

Local fundraising is a vexing challenge for CSOs in West Africa. CSOs in the region are increasingly being challenged to mobilise funding from their immediate constituencies as a more sustainable option for responding to socio-economic problems. In West Africa, this situation is made more complex by a general deficit in innovation and creativity with respect to the design of proposals and application of local fundraising techniques.

WACSI and Change the Game Academy’s capacity development intervention in the region has revealed that there is an overdependence on external donor funding sources and a lack of appreciation of potential resources from local communities. In addition, civil society actors in the region have inadequate knowledge of tools that could be utilised to raise resources from local sources.

Meanwhile, CSOs continue to have difficulties articulating their vision, ideas and plans in proposals. Many of them fail to identify the available donors in their communities. Several CSOs acknowledge that they lack human resources with strong writing and engagement skills that will enable them to attract the requisite funding from local sources including the private sector and individual donors.

Other challenges include weak conceptualisation, ineffective presentation of ideas, the lack of work plans and detailed budgets, absence of compliance documents and a shortage of professionally trained and experienced fundraisers with local context capabilities.

Therefore, local fundraising for most CSOs is particularly difficult for several reasons including; excessive competition among numerous groups for scarce local financial resources, poorly regulated operating space for CSOs, the difficulty for CSOs in establishing credible references, practical issues with resource transfers, numerous tax issues and the lack of diversified resourcing strategies.

In addition, private sector players and citizens living in the diaspora continue to argue that most CSOs lack the ability to “sell” their causes through a compelling value proposition. Certainly, there is an urgent need to strengthen the financial sustainability of CSOs in West Africa within the context of a changing donor environment.

In response to these challenges, WACSI through a series of reflection sessions has begun strategising to respond to this essential need within this current pandemic and the post COVID19 context. The Institute has strengthened its resource mobilisation intervention to integrate issues of operational sustainability and local fundraising strategies. The Institute is also actively pursuing non-traditional partnerships that would enable it to further this cause and respond appropriately to the skills and knowledge capacity gap.

Key resource mobilisation issues that the Institute would seek to address include strengthening the capacity of civil society to develop holistic offline and online fundraising strategies; strengthening the capacity for mobilising resources from various sources; identifying potential sources for financial support; helping organisations to increase the portfolio of potential domestic and international donors.

In addition, the Institute will continue to provide technical support to organisations to prepare for virtual and remote communication and meetings with donors and identify internal organisational fundraising strengths and build on them.

The thrust of the Institute’s financial sustainability intervention is to promote local giving for self-reliance. The strategy is to harness long-term viability within West African communities and to work with communities to build their confidence in taking charge of their development agenda.

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Head, Capacity Development Unit at WACSI | + posts

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