Fundraising Radicals [00:00:03]:
Hello, and welcome to this new episode of the Fundraising Radicals Podcast. I'm your host, Craig Pollard. The Fundraising Radicals Podcast is about turning the world of fundraising upside down by sharing and exploring fresh global perspectives on nonprofit, fundraising and leadership. These unscript conversations with friends and colleagues, old and new, ordinary and inspiring people who are fundraising and leading community projects, causes charities and social enterprises in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, and beyond the traditional boundaries of the nonprofit sector. I hope today's conversation challenges and inspires you to think differently about the world of fundraising and your place in it. I hope it helps you to reflect on your own fundraising practice and leadership. But now it's time for another dose of global fundraising ideas and inspiration.
Fundraising Radicals [00:01:25]:
Welcome to this latest edition of the Fundraising Radicals podcast. I'm your host, Craig Pollard. Today's conversation and doze of global fundraising ideas and inspiration comes from Lillian Mabonga, MBA, who is the straight talking regional grant specialist in Africa. She works for Living Water International, the US faith based nonprofit that works in the field of wash wash, that's international development speak for programs that work with communities in the areas of water, sanitation, and hygiene. Now, I first met Lillian when we were co presenting a session at a virtual conference on fundraising across borders, during which she talked about her love of studying and collecting qualifications. Lillian was originally a civil engineer. She started her career in project management, working on a multibillion dollar project to upgrade the infrastructure of Kenya's main port. Now, she's currently adding a development Studies PhD to her MBA and many other qualifications. She's focused on COVID-19 vaccination uptake amongst pregnant women in Kenya. Now, Lillian has a wealth of experience in fundraising and delivering grant income, and this is blended with a strategic and project management mindset. She deeply understands the role of visibility and careful positioning that increases the likelihood of organizations like Living Water in Kenya and across Africa of getting funded. Lillian always offers practical insight into how to build and deliver high quality, solidly funded programs, and she always keeps it real about the tactics, the practical, real life tactics that organizations can use to be visible and successful in building these partnerships with global institutions. Now, today's conversation takes place during the recently imposed curfew following the political riots in Kenya, and Lilian talks about the challenges of managing donor visits of Bukina Faso, for example, after two recent military coups. These illustrate that political violence is another contextual challenge that fundraising organizations based in many countries in the global south and their donors that support them must navigate together, and the additional challenges this adds to donor visits and day to day program delivery. I know you're really going to enjoy meeting Lillian today.
Craig Pollard [00:03:41]:
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:03:43]:
Thank you, Craig.
Craig Pollard [00:03:44]:
What is the subject of your doctorate?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:03:47]:
I'm majoring in development studies because very interested in from my background, I'm a development specialist. So I think it makes more sense to just specialize in the same field.
Craig Pollard [00:03:59]:
What specific area of development studies are.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:04:02]:
You okay right now? The development studies is broad, but I'm interested in, of course, the wash. I'm thinking I'm focusing on wash, of course, hygiene and sanitation. The things that I'm doing on a daily basis. Yeah. And actually, my topic is very interesting. Tell me, because it's not even wash related.
Craig Pollard [00:04:23]:
What is it?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:04:25]:
I'm looking at COVID-19 vaccine uptick among pregnant women in Nairobi County. And it's actually very interesting for me because I was pregnant during COVID so I had to make that decision. Do I take? Do I not? Yeah.
Craig Pollard [00:04:40]:
Wow. So it's really personal subject for you, then.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:04:44]:
It's very personal, very interesting. I think when I get the ethical clearance and start collecting the data, the results will be very interesting because the women have very varied opinions. Right now, we are not like, at the peak of COVID but the people steal their culture, their religion changes and affects how people think, feel and react to things.
Craig Pollard [00:05:08]:
Yeah. Particularly something like vaccination as well. The sort of cultural memories for these things and suspicion around these things is massive interestingly. Very huge suspicion of vaccines in Japan, where I was during COVID-19. Long memories of vaccination campaigns that had gone badly wrong. And I imagine it's pretty similar situation in Kenya too.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:05:33]:
And, you know, we are African, so culture, it depends who you listen to. Like, if you go to church, whatever the pastor says, that's it. But then even the doctors, they didn't know because COVID is a very interesting subject. You can't really say, don't take there wasn't enough data or statistics to support. So you can't tell someone. Even my own doctor said, I really can't advise you because we don't have enough scientific data to advise you for yes or no. So I'm really looking forward to the results just to see what comes up and how my report will be in terms of recommendation.
Craig Pollard [00:06:15]:
And when are you due to finish?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:06:17]:
Hopefully the end of next year. It's tough balancing work, school, family, but I think I'm.
Craig Pollard [00:06:28]:
Of course, it's so much on top of everything.
Fundraising Radicals [00:06:33]:
What you didn't feel you had enough.
Craig Pollard [00:06:35]:
On, you just needed to throw a doctorate in there, too?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:06:39]:
Generally, I love studying, like the way someone would love skiing or that's how I get to relax. Ironically, the way you say, oh, let me go bungee jumping. I'll say, Let me do another course that gets me to relax.
Craig Pollard [00:06:54]:
At Cornell or the Kenya Institute of Management or the Project Management Institute. Yeah. I think the first time I met you, I was massively intimidated by just the sheer volume of qualifications you have and the quality of these things. It's incredible. So you talk about sort of your education as being is it a kind of a hobby? Is it just a deep passion? Where does that come from that okay.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:07:22]:
Actually, let me just tell you a joke. My friend said there's this friend of mine, he's known me, like, all his life, so he was like, Someone bewitched me. It's literally witchcraft, because when are you going to stop? When I did my first Masters, I said, that's it. Then I called him for the second graduation and now PhD. So it's like, I know even after your PhD, you'll do something else and something else and something else. But for me, I worked with Japanese when I worked at the Port Kenya Ports Authority. 2007 to 2012. That time we were dealing with engineering, setting up, like the birth when you enter Kenya, the bus, it was minus eight, which means we only had small ships, which would come into our country. So the design that we are working with, this Japanese, was to get at least to minus twelve. That means we have to do Dredging. Hydrographical work so that big post Panama ships could come into our country. So we did that. And then we did the lab set corridor, which is a Lamu Port South Sudan transport corridor, which went to Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia. And I think the government is currently implementing the designs that we did at that time. So for me, I have a problem working in an environment because I'm in project and strategic management, right? So I can't be here and not understanding basics about Wash. So I just feel they need to be very comfortable in my environment. That's why I keep because in project management, I've done agriculture, I've done engineering. Now I'm in Wash and it's very interesting. Of course, I can't do all the courses, but at least you have the basic fundamental understanding of what are they talking about? So I ended up doing the shipping course at that time, understanding how the whole logistics work. So it's very interesting.
Craig Pollard [00:09:14]:
It's an interesting start. So I'm intrigued by how did you move from shipping into international development?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:09:25]:
At that time, shipping was I lived at the coast. So I think growing up was like, oh, this is the in thing. You either have to work for Kenya Revenue Authority or Kenya Ports Authority. That was the epitome of success. Like your benchmark on success based on that. But then at that time, that was actually my first real job in 2007 with the Japan Port Consultants. But then the Japanese, really, they're into staff development, so they trained me so I could say I'm a pseudo engineer because I understand, like, engineering concepts. I don't think I'll go to engineering school, but I understand because I worked with engineers, with architects, and my work was still the same program management, coordination, ensuring that the plans we set and you remember, it was a multibillion dollar project in three different countries, heavily funded by the government. And it brought a big change for us as an economy, because imagine if now we are having post Panama ships come. It means we can do more at once. I remember what I did at that time for my undergraduate was how to have 24 hours, the port operating 24 hours instead of 8 hours. So I made some recommendations. At least two of the three were adopted by the port. That was very interesting. So they started to utilize it because before it was just you have manual papers. You go to, like, 18 offices for stamps. So that radically changed. Yeah. So when we finished, it was like a five year project. I moved to Nairobi because we had, like, phase two. So I'm based in Nairobi right now, and I moved into agriculture. That was the next big project. And I was working with Dr. Lenny. I don't know if you know her. She was the one who started the Ethiopia Commodity exchange.
Craig Pollard [00:11:15]:
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:11:17]:
So I worked with her for some time. Then the next organization I worked for was also in agriculture. So I spent another four or five years doing agriculture and wash. And after that, it's when I came to Living Water. And they're just purely in wash. Yeah.
Craig Pollard [00:11:34]:
Transferable skills. Right.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:11:37]:
The basic skill is just project and strategic management. Because if you have the basic skill, you don't have to be an expert in that because what I'm offering is project management skill. So whatever kind of project I know, I can deal because the basics are the same.
Craig Pollard [00:11:54]:
This is right. So I used to be an accountant a long, long, long, long time ago. And those project management skills and that sort of financial background have been so helpful throughout my career. I mean, there's obviously a natural link between finance and fundraising, but so it's really interesting hearing you talk about the transferable, the project management and the strategic management as being critical for what you do. But what I often see are people coming in from other sectors, struggling with the cultural fit, from the corporate sector into international development, charities, nonprofit sector. How do you transfer those skills and navigate new cultures of organizations? Because it's a big shift. Right. Working for a Japanese consultancy to, for example, into the nonprofit.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:12:45]:
Yeah. So since the skills remain the same, like you correctly said, what I'm offering is project and strategic management skills. Right. And what I liked working with the Japanese was we were a team of about 70. So there was people from Australia, Kenya, US, Japan. There's like 20 or 30 people from Japan. Just multicultural environment. And I was really happy because that was my first real job. And working in such a diverse multicultural environment gives you a basis just knowing how to integrate, working with cultures. But I like that the Japanese were my first employer, because if you lived in Japan, you should know this, the discipline. And they really work hard. They really work hard. They don't want excuses. If you can't deliver, you really have to say in advance. So I believe working with the Japanese set me up for success because they gave me a very good foundation in terms of being disciplined, knowing what you want and being very appreciating. People's time. You can just show up late. No excuse. Your report is late.
Craig Pollard [00:13:59]:
It's not respect. Yeah, absolutely.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:14:02]:
Because they told me there's something called caricari in their culture. They can literally slip through your stomach if you come late. I don't think they do that in this modern day century, but that was the basic of everything and foundation. Knowing, discipline, hard work. If you need something, you need to work for it. If you can't deliver, you have to give ample time. And if you're doing something, you have to give it more than your best. You can't just give average. It has to be beyond if you ask for something, you also have to give it beyond what you're expected to do.
Craig Pollard [00:14:37]:
Yeah, that all feels very familiar. So you're in Nairobi now?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:14:44]:
I'm in Nairobi.
Craig Pollard [00:14:44]:
You weren't expecting to be in Nairobi. Can you say a little bit about that?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:14:49]:
Kenya is right now I was struggling because I thought, oh, we need to do this with trade. But the politics right now, it's a very volatile environment. Since the last two weeks, Mondays and Thursdays, we are literally not leaving our houses because these riots and demonstration people still are contesting the elections. They want the service to be open. The cost of living has gone up, so everything has gone up. Power, cost of water. Life is very expensive. So I understand. So as a middle class person, I can just sit and watch from the TV, but when I see those people throwing stones and asking government to listen to them, I can delete because my power bills have gone up, my water bills have gone up, I can't go. My kids could not even go to school and it's just like ten minutes away because you don't even know if you're driving, if your car will be stoned. The risk was really high, but thankfully, yesterday they called it off and they said they're going to try talking with the opposition to get some dialogue. I hope it works for the sake of our economy, because the economy is really the basis of all the work that we do. Because even as tomorrow we're supposed to go with some donors to the field, they were even scared to come because they're thinking, hey, are we going to be safe? What we are seeing on TV, I don't think maybe we need to cancel this. As I am in charge of fundraising for Africa, that is a concern for me. If the economy is bad, it means donors are not going to want to invest in my country. So what happens to our fundraising target?
Craig Pollard [00:16:22]:
Where are these donors coming from? Are they coming from overseas or from within Kenya?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:16:26]:
From the US.
Craig Pollard [00:16:27]:
The US. Yeah. Okay.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:16:28]:
But at least they're coming. So now they'll be here tomorrow. So tomorrow we can safely go to.
Craig Pollard [00:16:34]:
The field where's the majority of the funding that you secured over the last few years, what sources does it come from? Is it mainly from overseas institutions?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:16:46]:
Yeah. Okay. So living water, it's a Christian ingo. The HQ is in Houston, Texas. But we are in Africa. The HQ is in the US. We are also in Latin America and the Caribbean. We have about six countries there. Africa, we have nine. We're also in India. So total like, 18 countries. But our major donors, the Americans. So if the America economy is not doing well, like, right now, if, you know, you've seen Apple laying off people, like, the economy of the US is not doing well at all.
Craig Pollard [00:17:26]:
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:17:27]:
And most of our funders are also from the oil and gas sector in Texas.
Craig Pollard [00:17:32]:
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:17:33]:
Look at what has happened to oil and gas. Right now. The economy is not doing well. The housing sector is not doing well. That means it has a direct implication. And if you look at the time during COVID for Latin America, for Africa, we are doing a lot of program, like real program work. And for Latin America, we were doing what we call trips. So the trips, we have donors who are coming from the US. So they come to the communities either in Honduras, Haiti or Mexico, one of our Latin American countries. So what they are doing is just to go drill a well, set it up. By the time they're leaving, they have finished the whole construction. But then with COVID it means our funders are not able to travel. So if they're not able to travel, that means we actually lost. If we quantified. I remember recently we said we are losing about $4 million every year that we used to get in Latin America just from the trips, because that was like quick money. They come, work with the community, do the drilling with our engineers. In three, four days, they are done. You've made X amount a person. There's a way we cost it. But in total, we are losing about $4 million a year just from that. So now we are trying this year, I think from this May, we are trying to put back the trips for that. Latin America, even Africa, it's relatively safer to travel. Compared at the peak of COVID we couldn't, of course.
Craig Pollard [00:19:11]:
What are the impacts did COVID have on wash in Africa?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:19:16]:
In Africa, it wasn't as bad, to be honest. I think we made very good money because at that time, everyone was being asked to wash their hands to sunny ties, and we ain't washed. That is what we are singing to the communities every day. So we partnered with UNICEF, especially in West Africa, Sierra Leone, and we have UNICEF as one of our committed donors. And we are having like every year they are renewing our contracts. Every year they are renewing our contracts. Because the trick is, once you get a contract with a multilateral like UNICEF, you do it right the first time, and then you get repeat donors repeat. It's easier. And what I keep telling the country team, it's easier to maintain or retain a donor than to try and get a new one. So I'd rather work on a relationship with the ones we have and ensure every year they can renew their contract or give me multi year funding than try to establish a new relationship. So that way you have at least a guaranteed base to keep you as you try to get the nuance.
Craig Pollard [00:20:21]:
Yeah, I think that's a fantastic reflection. I think the common misconceptions is that the temptation is often to chase new money, new partnerships, but investing that time or that you would spend chasing new partnerships in existing partnerships, I find, is always a better use of that time, effort and resource in terms of return investment, in terms of just the pressure on the organization as well. Because those long term partnerships, they sort of tend to grow beyond the cash. Right. They become sort of a true partnership and much more embedded with each other in terms of trust and partnerships and individual relationships, et cetera.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:21:05]:
That's true, because, like us, what we want is donors who are also interested in change and impact, not just throwing off the money. We want donors who can come and see, this is the money we gave, this is what is able to do. This is the change that we are having in the community. And when you work with such, there's even fulfillment at organizational level, at a personal level, you're motivated to work because you can see all the money we're raising. This is the work that is doing, and this is the impact that we are getting on the ground. And that really helps even in choosing who do we work with. Because I've been in this sector for a long time, and fundraising is very tricky because you realize people, some donors, they really just have the money. There's a project somewhere I worked, and they said, the money that we'd have utilized in one year, they wanted us to use it in three months. And I remember the CEO said, no, we can't, because you're pushing the burden to us. We can't get a good band rate with this. We can't do everything that we're supposed to do in one year, in three months. But then they are at risk of not getting their monies renewed if they didn't utilize that money. So you really need to be careful who you're picking, who you're working with, because otherwise even your reputation can there's a reputational risk if you don't do your donor engagement properly.
Craig Pollard [00:22:27]:
And managing expectations is a massive part of that. Right?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:22:31]:
Craig Pollard [00:22:32]:
In terms of it's not possible to spend three months, a year's worth of funding in three months and expect the same quality of outcomes.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:22:43]:
Yeah, and I know there would be a temptation to say, oh, we need the funding this person is willing to give. But if you're realistic, you would not do one year work in three months. It means you'll compromise on the time, the quality and just the outputs will not very hard. I even wonder who, if anyone took up that offer.
Craig Pollard [00:23:03]:
But I guess there's two sort of conversations there, right? In terms of saying no to a donor, it can be extremely difficult. There's the internal conversation and then there's the external conversation with the donor. So how do you get internal alignment around saying no and pushing back to a donor?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:23:23]:
That's a very interesting question because recently we've started a new strategy which we call overflow 25. And if I could summarize for the fundraising part, what we are required to do is only work with donors that are one mission aligned. Two, that they enable us to do holistic work. And for us, holistic, since we're in the Wash sector, would say we're able to cover the water aspect, we're able to cover the sanitation and hygiene aspect, and we are able to cover the church and community mobilization. And as you know, most donors would not fund the church community mobilization. For example, UNICEF as a multilateral will not or USID would not cover because they have guiding principles not to discriminate based on gender, religion, age, race. They have that disclaimer. So what we do as an organization, we are trying to set up or find donors. They're donors who just fund the organization, the church and community mobilization aspect. So that is covered. Although most of the strategy, because we explain to our donors who we are and what we do. And for us, the church is at the center of everything because when you enter the community, we can live because we're in project management. So when we are doing Wash, maybe, let's say our model is to stay in a community for five to seven years. Then after five to seven years, we can move to the next community because you can't achieve impact in three months. We don't do random adult projects. So if we stay in a community for that period of time, you're able to get impact. But most donors right now, how we explain because when you enter will live after five or seven years. Living water leaves a community. The government will always be there. The church will always be there. And you realize people listen to whether if you go to a mosque, you listen to the imams. If you go to a church, people listen to their religious whoever they consider their religious authority. And for example, like in Africa, I believe like Kenya specifically has like 80% Christianity. So if you listen, of course, the pastors or the preachers, whoever is your spiritual authority, has a lot of say and impact in what we are doing. So that works for us because we train them separately, and then they're also able to help us train and mobilize the communities, emphasizing why they need to wash their hands, why they need to stop open defecation, for example. And they listen. And they listen. And the church has really helped us in doing the work that we do. And we like working with the church because we know for sustainability, it's going to work whether we are there or not. Government will always be there. The church will always be there. So that has really, really helped us in our model.
Craig Pollard [00:26:16]:
And that's sort of a classic approach to identifying your priority audiences and understanding who to engage within the community to deliver the impact you need. And I think that's probably the same in terms of fundraising as well. Right. It's having this focus and understanding of who are the organizations and who are the people you need to build partnerships with to fund, because I feel like there's so much potential distraction out there. Right. And staying focused on fundraising priorities is one of the hardest things to do. How do you keep focused on your fundraising priority? Because do you find it difficult? Is there pressure to not focus? And how do you stay focused?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:26:59]:
Actually, previously we made a lot of mistakes. That's why we have this new strategy. Since the organization started, like 32 and the 33rd year, we were doing very ADOC fundraising because if you're in water sanitation so previously we're just in doing water, then we grew to doing water sanitation and hygiene because it's more integrated. So to stay focused, we said, okay, so we have a three year strategy, unlike previously, where we have five year strategies because COVID just changed everything. And we sat and thought, okay, why are we wasting time? We're not going to waste time because the level of effort it takes to do a $1,000 proposal is the same level of effort it will take you to do a $10,000 proposal because you still have to do the proposal. Whether it's the small one or the big grant, the level of effort is the same. So first we came up with we reviewed the last three years. We said all the countries that we have, all the 18 countries who has been funding us, we literally listed all in the last three years. We narrowed it down to three years and checked who has been finding us in the last three years. Then we summarize at the end of it, we summarize like, oh, it's actually foundation multilateral bilateral. Okay? So we said we are going to focus going forward. We'll give more priority to the three categories if it's foundation multilaterals bilateral. But we are not saying that we can't work with anyone else. But we'll focus our energies more on people we know have the highest chance of giving us the return because it takes a lot of effort. And then we also came up with like a dummy proposal. And this was guiding all the sectors, whether you are in engineering, we had the water component, we had the sanitation and hygiene, fundraising, HR, admin, defining who we are, what we do. So whether you read our proposal from Liberia, it's the same as someone who's writing from Haiti. So we standardize our language, our approach. We have quality standards, so our quality standards also guide. So that helped a lot to look in house review and say, no, guys, we are not going to waste time just applying to anyone and everyone. It's okay to say no. And we know and we appreciate it. As an organization, we realize our funding may be smaller because of the decisions we make, but there's no need to spend a lot of time writing a proposal, getting rejection, rejection, rejection. And then if you also check the cost of operations, for example, if we're in this area that you operate, our strategy allows us to stay 80% of the work in what we call the WPA, which is a wash program area. So we stay there for that five to seven years. But we allowed 20% of the work outside. But if you have a drilling rig and you have to move all that equipment, let's say 500, another area just to do work for, let's say 5000, then you need to calculate there is fuel, there's transport. You have to calculate the staff time, accommodation, because you don't have offices there. You have to get them accommodate. You need to do the math. So people ask, oh, come and drill in my compound. Come and drill in my village. No, we can't, because it doesn't make sense. So sometimes you have to sit and learn to say no to what makes sense for you, what doesn't make sense for you.
Craig Pollard [00:30:39]:
And the sort of full cost of funding, I feel like it often removes, it's often connected to things that we can quantify in financial terms, but it often misses out things in terms of resources and the sort of blood, sweat and tears of fundraising. Right. It doesn't sort of often quantify that, but that's a cost in itself as well. And I think it's very easy to sort of focus on the top level when it comes to fundraising, the amount of money. But it's so fundamental, and you've said it perfectly to focus on what are the whole costs of delivering this. It's the fuel, it's the staff time, it's the opportunity cost as well of focusing on this when you could have been focusing on something else.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:31:27]:
Yeah. So you really have to evaluate and have a working strategy for what? But that means, you see, like, for us, we spent and analyzed 18 countries who's funding us, who can we say no to? And we're actually saying no to some people because the model. We are saying we ain't wash. So if you come to us and say hey, we want to give you just water for example, if you're within our operational area, we'll say yes because the model allow us to say yes because the organization is funding the sanitation and hygiene, the church and community mobilization. So remember I said our guiding principle, it has to be Holistic work and it has to enable us to provide sustainable solutions. But if you say hey, come and we'll give you some work 1000 km away for only water, then we'll say no. The money may be good, but we'll say no because it will not enable us to do Holistic work. And we've changed our strategy to be we are focusing on Holistic because we.
Craig Pollard [00:32:35]:
Also want so this is very much about your purpose and keeping that focus on your purpose, your values is actually a really efficient way of running an organization, but specifically when it comes to fundraising and deploying your resources.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:32:50]:
Yeah, because otherwise you realize you can have like 100 small grants. But I'd rather spend analyze, know that this is the type of donor that can fund me then focus all my energies on getting $100,000 proposal than getting the cost of operation for hundred over 1000 of them. It doesn't make financial sense. So the focusing really, really has helped us to know what we want and how we want to do it.
Fundraising Radicals [00:33:23]:
If you're enjoying this conversation and would like to hear other global perspectives on fundraising and leadership in the nonprofit sector, then please do subscribe using the links in the show notes. If you want to find out more about our work, please do visit our website fundraisingradicals.com. Now back for the conversation.
Craig Pollard [00:33:46]:
And there are obviously risks with having a lot of your organizational eggs in the institutional overseas funding basket. Are you exploring local and regional funding opportunities in addition to sort of the overseas traditional markets for institutional funding?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:34:05]:
So if you say those are okay, maybe I need to explain how we work. So we have the global grants team at the HQ, then I have the regional grant scheme, then we have the country grant scheme. And we did that because before we used to call it locally generated revenue, which means it's generated at the country level. But then we change it with a new strategy to call it program generated revenue, which means we want to focus more on raising money or program work. So that no, it doesn't mean we have a lot of small funding. For example, working with the government ministries, like in Rwanda, we partnered with the government to do a project which I think we've already renewed it twice. So government, we work with government a lot and government is a good source because think about it, all the FDBs very hard to get direct funding from FDB. FDB will fund government agencies. Then you have to go to the relevant ministry to get the funding very hard for them to fund you directly, unless it's very exceptional circumstances. So either way, we are still working with we know that is the major source of our funding, but it's not sustainable. Like I said, for example, the US economy is very hard heat, so we are not going to close all our country offices. So we are raising money from the regions and we also diversifying because I realize Europe is good funding and I'm also focusing on these multinationals that are in Europe. I'm looking at the Europe UK market and there's funding there that we're exploring because like the Minister of Agriculture, like I said, in Rwanda or the Ministry of Water in Kenya, in Uganda, we have small local foundations, we have hidden foundation Guamba ministries, we have private, we also have individuals who are funding us. So you have to diversify your funding base, because if we look at someone like Cindy, it's a doctor who comes and says I can fund one or two projects in a school. Yeah, why not? Then they're able to work with us and panor. But we have a guiding principle on someone who enables us to do holistic work. So we've defined to the donor what is holistic for us and if you're willing, we partner in that sense. But you can't have just one source of funding. If anything taught us is COVID. COVID you can't be dependent donor dependency. So like for us, even as Africa, we can't depend on our US office just to find us all the funding. We have to find funding within Africa as a region and at the country level. So we have grant schemes at the country level and for coordinating at the regional level as well.
Craig Pollard [00:37:03]:
And do you see that growing? The sort of funding coming from Africa for your work directly into the programs?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:37:11]:
I would say we are trying, but it's not as much because if you check the ranges, they are so small, you wouldn't get like a huge funding. Even the Ministry of Agriculture, for example, in Rwanda, they're funding, they will fund you a lot of money. They give us money. But if you check, their funder is DFID, but the small funding, the 5000, $10,000, they're trying, they're growing. So it depends with what type of an organization you are. And because someone for some organization, maybe $10,000 would be huge funding for them, others, it will enable them to do one project, two projects. But what I would say, all in all, is it's good to diversify your funding base, but don't do adult things because the same level it takes to do a $1,000 proposal is the same level of effort it will take to do a million dollar proposal. So know the type of work you're doing, who is likely to fund you, then the next thing is, okay, so where do I fund them, how do I align? Because there's something we tell our teams on donor intelligence. Sometimes. I realize in this fundraising, it's very funny, by the time you see a call on a website or newspaper or somewhere, they already know who they're going to give because they have strategic partners. When they have forums, like for us, you have wash forums, you need to go there, you volunteer. When they call for meetings, you are there. You're participating because people need to know who you are. So how else will they know who you are and what you're able to do? So by the time a call is coming, they need to tell you, hey, in the next six months, we'll do a call. So, look, for example, if you look at a multilateral like UNICEF, if you check on the UN photo, they have three types of funding that they can do. So they can give you direct selection. You can do an Unsolicited, you can just post with their template that they have on their website, or they put up a call for application. So if you go like, all our countries are registered on the UN portal because it covers WFP UNDP, it covers, of course, UNICEF. So if you want to work with the UN agencies, for example, you have to register on their portals, but they have that choice to work with the three categories. And if I was sitting at UNICEF, why would I waste my time throwing calls if I can do direct election with a partner I've already worked with? They've been pre qualified, they've done the work before.
Craig Pollard [00:39:49]:
But it's the reverse. It's the reverse of what you said earlier, right? It's that partnership for them. From a donor's perspective, it's exactly what you're saying as from your perspective, in terms of it's much better and more efficient to invest in existing partnerships as it is to find new ones, particularly for donors, because the risk is so high and the trust and all of that sort of compounded benefit over the years is already there. So it's sort of a mirror as from the ingo perspective, it's exactly what you say.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:40:22]:
From my perspective, like I said, from an organization perspective, I'd rather retain my donors. The same thinking with the donor. And we've had instances where UNICEF would tell us, when you finish this call, we're going to put up another call in the next month, so ensure you finish your work on time. Even if they advertise, we know chances are that they'll still end up doing a direct selection. So if anything, like, if you think about it, it's both ways. And once you have a donor, we said, work on your donor intelligence. Of course, invest in visibility. People need to know who you are. Your website needs to be up to date, what you're doing, impact of your work needs to be quantifiable. Someone can say, hey, if you talk about living water, they'll say, These are the wash people. They do wash, they do what we can see, demonstrate the effect. But then most organizations, sometimes you're tempted to what I say is do it right the first time. If someone gives you their money, you have a contract, ensure your band rate is good, your programs and your finances are a good balance. Do it right the first time you get money from the donor, then it's very easy to maintain that relationship. And they would want to have you as a repeat because it's so much work. Pre qualifying people checking their technical, doing the organizational capacity assessment, are they good, can they deliver? It's very high risk. Even if I was a donor, I would invest in someone. I've already gone through that whole process.
Craig Pollard [00:41:53]:
Of course it's sort of human nature as well, right? It's human nature, right. It's also interesting what you say about the importance of visibility because I think when we're in fundraising, when we're in resource mobilization, that prioritizing communications is so vital, particularly when it comes to institutional funding. Because the processes for many organizations sort of, oh, they've got an unsolicited application stream, let's just fire something in. But that's such a waste of resources because if you understand how everything's working in the background, the decisions are made at these focus groups, at these meetings, these boards. Some of the organizations actually have advisors plugged into these decision making organizations. Right? And I think it's about competitive advantage, about how can you go beyond the proposal to really think about getting yourself higher up that pile of applications on somebody's desk. And there's the donor intelligence, as you suggested, then there's the sort of partnerships and the delivery, but it's also about being plugged into this and visibility. Are there other things that organizations can do beyond the proposal to get themselves noticed and to grow the likelihood of them being successful in terms of proposals?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:43:12]:
Yeah, like those two have mentioned, of course you need to work on your visibility, you need to work on your donor intelligence, you need to volunteer more. You need to be in the forums of the sector that you're in. When people are making decisions, when people are saying if they're coming up with a wash strategy for your country. For example, in my sector, if it's an agriculture strategy that you're in, you need to be there to making your own contributions so that people by that way, you're also contributing your technical competencies towards the area that you're focusing on. And then like I said, you also need to do it right before that. Because if you check critically, chances are that these random proposals that you throw rarely get funded. Just you've seen something, they may get funded. You're not saying that no one is going to fund you, but it's more of investing. Fundraising I would say, is more about relationships. Build your relationship, build your network. And also when you're doing contracting, you also need to be very careful because you also need to read the fine print. Because we've had donors that say, for example, if you get a dry well for us, they're not going to fund. So if you didn't read the fine print, that means you may end up wasting money. Then you have to do hydrogeological surveys to repeat the same thing at your own cost. Yeah, but you need to really invest in visibility. Do you have a communication strategy? Is your LinkedIn page active? Do people see because on LinkedIn you're able to tag when you're doing the work that you're doing? Success stories. So normally I say a good practice is to do at the end of every year you document what are your lessons learned, what are your success stories, do stories and videos. And if it's even best from the community, let the community members be there talking about the change that they felt from your work. Tag it, put it on LinkedIn, tag someone tweet, tweet about it. And I remember in my previous works I worked with, we got some EU funding and every time we had an event, they would send me a text, it's ten minutes, you've not tweeted. You have to tweet and tag, tweet and tag. Because even then they're getting funding from someone else. So they need these stories that they've funded, you seen with their donor so that they were to continue funding you. So it's just a whole cycle. Communications is at the center of fundraising work. Right.
Craig Pollard [00:45:45]:
And that's right. What you're saying is really important as well. It's remembering the humans within the process and remembering that they have targets, they have people above them to keep happy. So if you're equipping them with what they need, if you understand what they need in terms of the stories, the success stories, the reality as well, I think it's finding that very fine balance between it's not all about just broadcasting success, but the realities of the challenges as well. But equipping them with that knowledge and those stories and making it easy for them increases the likelihood of that being renewed or you're being successful in another grants round.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:46:23]:
Yeah, so I remembered something I learnt about donors. There's something they call reward and return. And let's say, for example, if I have USID funding me, so USID will not come and say, hey, living water. So USID will not go to the highway and put a big banner and say USID funds agriculture, infrastructure, wash. But they expect you, who's been funded by them, to say, funded by USID, put their logo. When you have events, of course, if you have a mug, whatever the branding, the branding, that's their way of the reward and return that they expect from you. So this small thing, if you get work on getting it, once you get it, work on maintaining it and work on reward and return. That thing I learned from the donor communication being in touch with them, telling them, thank you, and then if people say, okay, we finished this contract, but also maintaining that relationship, because you never know, sometimes they may have another call. They can call you and tell you, hey, you need to keep communications. Communications and maintaining relationship is really very key in getting you going.
Craig Pollard [00:47:34]:
You said branding as well. I remember somebody, I can't remember somebody well known said that branding your brand is what other people say about your organization when you're not in the room. Right? And that's the same sort of situation that the nonprofits, the INGOs them shouting about USAID or UNICEF, et cetera, that supports their brand. Right. But in the same way we can work with communities and having when it comes to donors and sort of strengthening our brand and reputation of our organizations, is when donors hear it from communities. That's why that group and their voice and enabling them to communicate about impact is so important from an organizational brand perspective as well.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:48:22]:
So if you speak on something like that, I've just remembered. So Living Water, for the longest time has been having like an annual gala. So once a year we have a gala to raise money to support the work that we do. But it's not the Americans telling donors, hey, support our work in Africa, support our work in India or Latin America. No, we get the community members to go to Houston and talk about their work. I remember in 2014, Living Water did what was the title? I'll walk with Lucy. So Lucy was grade six. I think she was in grade six at that time. And she was flown to Houston to go tell her own story. There's nothing as better as someone else who's going through you can empathize, but if the person who tells the story, that makes a whole difference. So Lucy went, talked about how she has to wake up at five in the morning, walk, go fetch water from wherever. Imagine the risk. These animals, she could be raped, there's insecurity, theft. And this is like a grade six, maybe 1213 year old, she has to carry water on her head, then run back home in time to go to school. By the time she get to school, do you think that child will learn anything? They're tired, they are drained. Maybe sometimes someone will say, hey, I have a motorbike, I'll go fetch for you. But they have to sleep with you, with the small kids. And that happens a lot for the risk. So if Lucy comes and tells the donors, this is what Living Water has done for me, I can go to school on time. There's water right in my school. There's water next to my home. So I don't need all those risks we've cut. Then the parents can even invest in other economic activities. Like, the mother doesn't need to go there. She can do farming, she can do something else to generate income for her family. So of course, her explaining that to the donor doesn't need any convincing. Anyone can see, oh wow, these people are doing they're changing the lives of the communities because it's coming from the source, direct source. That's also a very good strategy in telling a story. Don't tell it for them. Let them come and say it by themselves.
Craig Pollard [00:50:36]:
And what better way of describing something like the gendered impact of water access than Lucy? Someone like Lucy, right. How? Because storytelling and I know there's a, you know, there's a big movement around localization and empowering communities and it's deeply important about who owns the stories as well and how stories are told. I'd love to hear your views on that. How do you tell community stories ethically and authentically?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:51:08]:
Okay, so of course there's different categories when you're doing stories, there's where the community members have the chance to tell their stories. You document, you showcase, right? But there's a time you have to tell the story for them, right? Maybe they won't be able to make it to a meeting. You still need to summarize and say, what was the problem? Just three things. What was the impact, what solution problem, what a solution did you offer? And what was the impact? And that's how we learned how to do our pitches. This was a problem in the community. There was lack of clean, safe water in the community. The solution was we are doing either the boreholes or pipe water systems. We're also teaching the communities on sanitation and hygiene because it goes hand in hand. Even if you give water and they still have to go, they have no toilets. It means all that mess goes back into the same water that you drill for them. So it has to be water, sanitation and hygiene. And the impact is there's a huge reduction in the diseases. We are saving money, we are saving time. All the money that they would have been using, for example, going to hospital all the time that they are wasting going to fetch water. Now they can focus on the economic activities. They can also focus on they don't have to be worried about theft, insecurity. So those three things when you're telling stories at our level, we just summarize it. This was the problem, this is the solution we offered and this is the impact that we received.
Craig Pollard [00:52:42]:
It's great to hear you say all of this stuff. I feel like everything you say is just like is so helpful. And I know that the people listening to this will find it really helpful. What is your sort of proudest fundraising moment? Is there one that sort of stands out or a partnership that you're sort of most proud of?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:53:03]:
Oh my God, there are so many because okay, let me just tell you what I stand for, then you can relate. So I have certain principles I stand by. Even if you say, hey, come work for me, I would first check if I'll be able to work with you. If there will be change, there will be impact, and three, if there will be sustainability. I'm at a point in my life, money is not a big motivator, I know, but for me it doesn't really but I'd rather be paid to do work that has those three things. And like I said, for example, that Lucy story. Whenever communities come and talk about and say, hey, we worked with living water and we have seen drastic change in our health, we're able to focus on our school. Our girls are no longer being raped, our men can focus their monies, the monies are being shifted to other economic. When communities talk about the impact of the work that we do, that really gives me motivation as a fundraiser to keep raising more money. Because you're thinking about the change, that the work you're doing, the impact it's creating and you're finding sustainable solutions. So for me and then another, aside from when communities talk about the change and the impact, I also think about donors like UNICEF, who we are working so hard to retain. And let me just tell you a story. So we have Bukina Faso as one of the countries in Africa, and as you know, Bukina Fan Faso is French speaking and most donors are not really interested in investing in French speaking country. Right? So that is a challenge.
Craig Pollard [00:54:42]:
Is it because most donors are English.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:54:44]:
Speaking, culture, language, is that because they're.
Craig Pollard [00:54:46]:
Coming from the US?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:54:47]:
Yes. Okay. You may know Bukina Faso has had two coups in nine months. So people would be like, are we safe? Are people going to be safe? Is it safe to set up an office over there? But in November, in 2022, our regional vice president, myself and four other people from the region, we said, anyway, let's just go. It's no longer read a lot. They had transitioning president, I think someone from the government, I forgot his name, took over and that person was like acting for I think they agreed nine months or something like that. Of course, booking a person is hot. It's like 45 degrees, it's very hot, it's harsh, climate dry, so even the motivation to go is very low. But the people there, their levels of enthusiasm and the irony is it's like one of the only countries where the work we do, the Islam and the Christianity, they've integrated. Like, seriously, they don't care because what they want is just the water. They don't care whether you're Christian, they don't care. They're Muslim. They work together. And one of the stories was like an imam saying, thank you, we know you're Christians, but thank you because you've made a change in our community. He allowed a well to be built in his compound. And imam like, if you know how radical and how strict they are. That was a big deal. And now that changed the whole area. So all the Christians, they've just integrated. No one cares. But for us as an organization, we don't care what your religion is, because what we want is to provide clean, safe water to you. So of course we'll preach the gospel. It doesn't mean that you need to convert, but that's part of our mandate, just to let you know about Jesus Christ. But that Bukina Faso is so what I was saying, for example, in Sierra Leone, we are working it's just right in West Africa, like Bukina Faso. So we told the UNICEF guy, like, hey, we are working with UNICEF in Sierra Leone. And he was like, really? So already that he was like, if UNICEF can trust you there, it means we can trust you there, and already that was the basis to start our conversations. There are so many donors.
Craig Pollard [00:57:11]:
Yeah, but that's just another example of the advantages of these longer term partnerships as well, right?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:57:17]:
Craig Pollard [00:57:17]:
Relationships, it's just they build trust way beyond that partnership as well. It's a real sort of like a kite mark, I guess, of sort of quality and trust and it lessens other organizations risk. Right. When it comes to funding you or working with you as a partner.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:57:31]:
I feel very happy when we renew a contract. That's like a highlight moment for me, like, oh my gosh, and if we get like a multi year grant so, like I said before, investing in maintaining relationships, because if I have a multi year grant, it means you've secured all the commitments you've made to the communities. You're able to do all the commitments you've made to the communities. So that, I can say, is one of the other moments that really gives me a year moment to look at it like, yeah, we are doing something right. We are doing something right, and Adona wants to work with us again, but.
Craig Pollard [00:58:09]:
It takes a while to get to that point right as well. And the way that funding is that you have NGOs INGOs making promises to communities and the way that funding is the short term and the shifting politics of it makes that really difficult. Because trust talk about trust in relation to donors, but trust in relation to communities is so easily broken as one. It's so fundamental to you being able to do that work. And I guess it comes back again to your principles of the holistic sustainable funding.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [00:58:42]:
Yeah. For us, you see, when you're signing the contract with the donor, you're committing to certain things. So you need to be very clear. It means that you're committing to delivering certain output at a certain time with a certain amount of money. But sometimes, you know, when you're doing proposals, it's literally proposing something. But when you come to implementation, you realize, oh, we under budgeted on this line, we over budgeted on this line. So what I learned. Donors don't like when it may be justifiable need. But you really need to go and seek authorization to move monies within the lines because it's their money anyway. Of course they've signed you up for it, but it's their money. So you need to have a meeting report and say this is what we propose, this is what we signed. But we are literally not able to do this work. This money, we need to move it to this line because of one, two, three, get an approval. That's one way to get to that point of trust. Not just saying, but it's a justifiable need. Let me just move it. They don't understand. They don't understand. So you really need to work on communicating to the donor in case there's changing what you signed up for and then also checking how you're implementing your programs versus the finances. Donors check the band rate because to say, oh, are these people efficient? Are they effective? Because you also don't want to work with someone who has a very low band rate. It means they ask for more than they actually need. So why would I want to fund you next time? So you really need to be like I said, do it right the first time. When you get the money, make sure you do what you signed up for. Don't take the money to start paying people salaries in another project for another donor. Just be very ethical in how you do your operations and seeking approval from the donor.
Craig Pollard [01:00:39]:
If you could change, make any sort of magical change in the fundraising world or the funding world, what would that be?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:00:47]:
This world is crazy. It's stressful. It's very stressful. Like what would I change? I would say number one, keep your word. If you're a fundraiser, you really need to keep your word. Because I think people sometimes people make promises to donors but either they don't have the skill or the capacity or the ability or the experience to be able to do the work. And of course we know sometimes people subcontract. There's many ways to come round it. But don't promise what you can deliver. That's just one way to get blacklisted. And donors know each other. So once one donor knows your reputation, guard your reputational. Risk. Maybe I would phrase it like that with whatever you have, guard it because it may be in one country. You can say, oh okay, after that. That donor is in Mexico. They want to know what we are doing in Liberia. But still reputation. These donors talk to each other. They have their own forums, they have their own groups. It's just like the visa thing. So for example, if today I travel to the US. I do something funny, the next thing if I go to a Canadian embassy, chances are they'll not give me a visa. If I go to try to go to get a Schengen visa and. You're like? Are their systems integrated? Maybe not, but they talk just the same logic. So guiding your reputation, that needs to be really important.
Craig Pollard [01:02:20]:
And what about donors responsibilities as well? Because there's a lot on the INGOs to keep their word and deliver, et cetera. But what about the donors as well? Isn't there some improvement needed in terms of donors keeping their word and maintaining and putting more trust in organizations and giving more unrestricted funding and lighter reporting requirements? Is that something that you'd like to see?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:02:49]:
Yeah, there's many things they can do. I don't know why they give such complex templates. They make it, but I guess that's part of saving. When there are too many people applying to a call, like they'll say 400 words, you are four and oh, you're out. So that's both ways. But they can make it easier for people to access funding and even donors can also when they're disbuzzing funds, if you have a schedule, we say every quarter, let them just send the money at the date and time that you agreed because that also affects all those things. They're complaining about the band rate. If they send the money late, it means I'm not able to do the work until this money comes. And if we send you reports, kindly give us feedback.
Craig Pollard [01:03:33]:
But cash flow, staff contracts and everything, it just the knock on effect of a late payment within a donor contract can be devastating to a program in terms of momentum as well.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:03:44]:
So if they give the money, we deliver the work. But it's two ways if maybe I'm late in delivering on my output because you never send your money on time. So how about send your money on time? And if I send you reports, kindly review and give comments. Don't wait for end of the year to say oh, I didn't like that in the first quarter. You should have done progressive, give progressive feedback to also implementing organizations. That way they're able to improve progressively and not wait when everything has crushed and then you just crush them more.
Craig Pollard [01:04:18]:
And communication, this is also on donors too, to maintain that communication and not wait until the end of the project to put that feedback, but to have it live. Because I think this is something from an ingo perspective, it's easy to sort of something little goes wrong and you think we'll handle it and the donor doesn't need to know, but then that thing gets a little bit bigger and by the time it gets to reporting to the donor, it's a massive thing. Whereas from the ingo perspective it's like communicate early if you have even the smallest issue because that is sort of insurance policy, I guess, in terms of that partnership. But then also on the other side, it's just like this has to be effective communication and sort of living to that same standards that donors expect from I NGOs too.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:05:10]:
Yeah, communication what you said, I agree 100%, because whatever happens, just let the donor know it's better now than later. And the basis of that is just trust, because what you're investing with a donor is a relationship. And if something goes wrong or you're not able to deliver, or you say you use this quality of equipment, but you got this instead, you know the world of saying, communicate, it's trust. I'm trusting you with my money to be able to deliver what we agreed. So if anything changes, you need to constantly and frequently communicate. And that's why we say in the reporting, you need to agree with the donor. They're going to do a monthly report, quarterly, biannually what? Reporting. And it needs to be detailed and keeping track. That's why it's very good to invest in the me systems, because that way you're able to know, are we on track, are we ahead? So keeping track, that helps you to also maintain your donors because you know that we have three months to go to end of this fiscal year. We've not finished. Then maybe you can deploy stuff, other stuff to come and help do the work. If you're understaffed. But if you're not keeping track, then how then will you be accountable?
Craig Pollard [01:06:27]:
You said fundraising is stressful. How do you manage the stress? How do you stay well in the face of all of this sort of pressure and partnership?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:06:39]:
As a person or as an organization?
Craig Pollard [01:06:42]:
As a person. As a person.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:06:45]:
I work out. By the way, I go to the gym this week. I haven't gone because we are doing some training on climate change. So I missed the whole week. So I know next week when I'm going, my body is going to be in shock. I've made it a habit to work out, and it's good just for health and fitness. And my friend is convincing me to join a meditation class.
Craig Pollard [01:07:08]:
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:07:10]:
I'm thinking about that. But I also spend a lot of time with my kids, and my kids are young, so they're very demanding. That takes me completely off the work stress because I'm focusing 100% on them and their needs.
Craig Pollard [01:07:26]:
Keeps you grounded, right? How old are your kids? How old are your kids?
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:07:31]:
Lillian the turning point, too.
Craig Pollard [01:07:33]:
Okay. Wow. Okay. Yeah, they are demanding ages.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:07:37]:
So very young. Yeah, that really helps.
Craig Pollard [01:07:41]:
I'd love to say that my seven year old and my eight year old are less demanding than they were when they were three and four, but I'm not so sure.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:07:48]:
I think it's definitely better because it's infants and toddlers. You feel like you have two infants in the house. It's demanding and they can be so, like, when I'm at home, I completely do not think about fundraising and Target and everything and just having family time. That really helps me, keeps me grounded.
Craig Pollard [01:08:10]:
It's so lovely to see you and lovely to catch up. I really appreciate your time and for sharing all of your wisdom and experience. I'm sure the people who are listening will have taken a lot from this conversation. So thank you so much, Lillian, and very best of luck with your doctorate.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:08:28]:
Oh, thank you, Craig. When I'm really even waiting just for the data analysis and the report, I'll send you an email. I think it's going to be very interesting, even for you.
Craig Pollard [01:08:39]:
Yeah, I'm sure it will be. And also, good luck with your fundraising. Not that you need it, because you're something of a superstar when it comes to those big relationships and partnerships. So it's fantastic.
Dr Lilian Mabonga [01:08:52]:
Oh, no, we're trying. I think we all trying. I can't say, like, I'm the best, but spending time in fundraising over the years, you just learn a thing or two when you're bunt once. I'm sure you don't want to do the same thing again. And we are growing, and I think right now we are very focused with our strategy. We know who we want to partner and we can say no, which is a big thing for me. I never thought, like, you'd say no to a donor. So I think we are growing even in this fundraising film. Yeah. And thanks for having me.
Craig Pollard [01:09:25]:
That's an absolute pleasure. Take care.
Fundraising Radicals [01:09:28]:
Random proposals rarely get funded, and as a fundraiser, keep your word. These are just two of the many helpful, straight talking statements from Lillian that can guide our fundraising. I love how she takes the challenges in her stride and is open about the mistakes she's made in the past and how she's learned from these living waters. Guiding principles have clearly helped to create a solid global framework that is nurturing fundraising. They're committed to only work with donors that are mission aligned and that are funding holistic work. Holistic work that includes the church and community engagement parts of the program's work. They're committed also to understanding and recovering the full cost of delivering their programs, a challenge that must go beyond cash and consider the whole costs of programs. And then there's Lillian's clear focus and analysis of funding opportunities. For example, instead of pushing to diversify to new types of donors, she's following the evidence of what she knows already works by working better and smarter with the types of donors that they already work with those that they know fit well with how living water in Africa works and those that have already delivered high quality programs in partnership and where they are well positioned to secure additional income. However, she also talks about how she thoughtfully prioritizes new opportunities as they arise and how they're trying and exploring the opportunities of funding within Africa, which are currently small but growing, and therefore are on the radar of her donor intelligence gathering. Now, I completely agree with Lillian's mantra to do it right first time and the role of personal relationships that underpin institutional grant fundraising just as much as raising donations from local companies and wealthy individuals. The challenge is always to resist the temptation to chase new partnerships when it's much easier and much more efficient to retain a donor than to secure a new donor. So if donor retention is the chicken, then the egg is donor engagement. It's hard to tell which comes first. They grow together. Retention comes from engagement, and engagement deepens retention. They are mutually reinforcing. But this cycle also works well from the funders perspective. Working with trusted partners who are consistent and reliable is a practical, real life strategy that reduces funders risk. It comes down to making it as easy as possible for donors to fund you and to ensure that they can continue funding you, and then making sure that you have things that keep you grounded and time to switch off from fundraising. I hope you enjoyed meeting Lillian today and that her focus and practical tactics help to inform and inspire your own fundraising practice. I hope you've enjoyed listening to this episode of the Fundraising Radicals podcast and that this conversation has challenged, informed, and maybe even inspired you and your fundraising leadership practice. Please do check out the show notes, subscribe to the podcast on the platform of your choice, and do visit fundraisingradicals.com to find out all the ways in which we're working to empower, equip, and engage fundraisers all over the world.