Special Attention Project (SAP) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Ghana created in 2007 and has been operating since 2008. The organisation works to improve the lives of children with specific learning difficulties through research, awareness creation, advocacy and training.
Established in response to a survey in Accra which revealed that many out-of-school-children were showing symptoms of learning difficulties. They set out to prepare such children for reintegration into mainstream education and further expanded their scope to include children in school with learning difficulties to prevent them from dropping out.
Since its inception in 2007, SAP had been relying heavily on donor funds from Western countries for its operations. Mindful of the negative impact this could have on their organisation should the donors withdraw, they set as a core priority to diversify their resource stream for their sustainability. SAP’ strategic focus to become sustainable was to mobilise resources locally. This, for them, is to ensure their long-term survival.
However, due to lack of structured fundraising plan, low involvement of the board and staff members in fundraising activities and poor communication strategy, SAP’ efforts of mobilising resource at the local level were not yielding results.
To make things happen, SAP saw the Change the Game Academy Programme as an opportunity to completely overcome these challenges. The organisation applied and was selected to participate in the programme organised by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and Wilde Ganzen Foundation. The programme entails a combination of face to face training and intensive mentoring programme.
With the skills and knowledge acquired from the programme, SAP has achieved significant results. The organisation has attracted funding locally, increased awareness, built sustained interest in SAP’ programmes and developed favourable image among stakeholders.
“SAP now pursues a well-developed, structured and comprehensive fundraising plan. The organisation has strengthened relations with its existing and potential donors through regular and effective communication. There is greater awareness about the role and involvement of the board and staff members in fundraising initiatives”, confessed Richard Opoku, Project Director of SAP.
The programme has enabled SAP to streamline its fundraising activities. The organisation now understands the various processes and stages of a fundraising initiative. The organisation can now decide fundraising strategies that are effective and where it needs to allocate more time and resources.
“SAP now feels confident approaching donors, SAP has achieved creditable results thanks to the programme by applying what was learnt. SAP has equally been able to streamline its fundraising activities. The organisation currently allocates its resources prudently to fundraising activities, in terms of funds and human resource,” asserted Opoku.
Following the fundraising process step by step, the organisation was able to raise funds from the Accra Lions Golden Club in 2018.
“We started with investigating their interest, reaching out to them to develop personal relations, meeting them to share our vision for children with learning difficulties and inviting them to our project site to have first-hand information thereby arousing their interest. This campaign was memorable because applying some of the fundraising strategies learnt, SAP received USD $ 8,000 (4,000 in cash and 4,000 in-kind) from the club”, stated Opoku.
Through this process, SAP has learnt that forging stronger relations with donors requires understanding the donor’s mindset and aligning their interests and communicating in their own language. SAP continues to investigate the interest of potential donors, build personal relations and use effective communication to reach out to them to sustain the relationship.
NOTE: Opinion expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the West Africa Civil Society Institute.