For decades, civil society organisations (CSOs) across Africa depended largely on foreign donors for their interventions and organisational sustainability. In 2020, a survey conducted by WACSI across six West African countries involving 313 CSOs revealed that more than 67.1% of CSOs heavily depended on foreign donors. The results were insightful.
“In recent times however, there has been a drastic reduction in donor funding support for CSOs. This is due to a shift in donors’ priorities to more domestic issues which are key to the wellbeing of their own communities and the Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic effectively exposed the depth of limitations of civil society organisations that were operating in the region. When the Covid-19 pandemic engulfed the world, an already shrinking civic space in West Africa was crippled even more with the restrictions that came with it.”
The research also found that, 78% (244 organisations) closed their offices, 58.8% lost funding, 41.2% experienced increase in organisational cost and 52.7% had to cancel their operations in the communities to mention a few.
A conclusion drawn from this research by WACSI was that “As a result, CSOs that relied solely on foreign donors as a means of sustenance are now heavily challenged in finding alternative ways of funding to sustain their work.” (WACSI,2021)
Consequently, the existence and viability of CSOs in Africa is being threatened. It was within that context that the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in collaboration with Innovation for Change (I4C) – Hub Afrique organised a shared learning convening on Alternative Funding Models (AFM) for CSOs from November 26 – 28, 2018. The convening attracted 25 civil society actors and organisations from across Africa to share strategies, models, experiences, and lessons learnt from the implementation of non-traditional approaches to generate financial resources.
A key outcome of the convening was the development of a guidebook on perspectives and best practices regarding alternative funding models. With the generous support of Wilde Ganzen Foundation, the guidebook served as the basis of developing training materials on AFM and further gave birth to an e-learning course on0 “Alternative Funding Module”.
The Alternative Funding Model e-Learning course https://wacsi.moodlecloud.com/login/index.php aims at strengthening the financial sustainability of civil societies in Africa. The approaches, content and learning objectives articulated in the course are presented as models that will contribute to the viability and sustainability of civil society operations and influence in Africa.
The course consists of 12 modules, each representing a specific model of AFM including (1) consultancy services, (2) an understanding of financial sustainability, (3) asset building, event organisation, (4) membership fees, (5) social enterprise, (6) microfinance, (7) subsidiary profit-making enterprises, (8) incubation, (9) private sector funding, (10) social and green bonds, (11) crowdfunding, and (12) fiscal sponsorship.
The course is designed to help participants gain an in-depth understanding about the modules and how to use the various modules in income generation. It also captures the advantages and disadvantages of each module to enable participants to select the modules that best suit their organisational context.
Each course module contains videos, case studies, related reading materials, individual and group assignments and quizzes that further broaden and make it easy for participants to understand. The participant has the opportunity to form study groups and have group discussions with other participants on the platform making each session engaging and lively. Each participant will also have the opportunity to share their views on the platform for others to review and offer viable alternatives.
The course will help CSOs to explore and understand possible approaches to address the resource gap in their organisations and know how to implement a given model which aligns with the mandate of their organisation. This course empowers CSOs to mobilise resources within their community to achieve their mission.