Everyone’s favourite fictional dinner party guest Albert Einstein apparently once said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” And while it’s unlikely Albert spent much time pondering the challenges facing New Zealand’s not-for-profits, if you replace “energy” with “money” (specifically government funding), his quote still applies.  

Charities across Aotearoa are competing for the same very limited and very finite pot of government funding. The successful organisations are those who adapt and evolve with the changing priorities of the government. Any Development or Philanthropy professional can attest to the reality of the funding jungle. Governments rarely direct new money to not-for-profits and community organisations. They merely move it around and disburse it to reflect priorities or perceived need within the community they serve. 

Responsive fundraising in the face of crisis 

The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event which led to the government re-directing considerable funding and resources to address the challenges it posed.

Funding was shifted towards response and recovery to these catastrophic crises. These changes required development professionals to assess their organisation’s long-term funding strategies and highlighted the need for diversified income streams. Those who may have previously relied on government grants or other funding looked at ways to expand their revenue base.  

Stick to fundraising basics!  

We all know the fundraising landscape can change rapidly, and new challenges will constantly emerge.

The only certainty is uncertainty. Charities must stay agile, adapt to evolving trends, and use data-driven strategies to overcome these challenges and continue their vital work. This reality emphasises a need for Development professionals to stick to the basics and “do the fundamentals” the right way. 

Charities must stay agile, adapt to evolving trends, and use data-driven strategies to overcome these challenges and continue their vital work.

Be guided by funding best practice 

The Strategic Grants Best Practice Tracker (BPT) is an invaluable tool our clients use to identify areas of improvement. It works because it is both self-reflective (clients rate themselves on their performance) and collaborative (SG works with clients to address the skill gaps).

Many aspects of the BPT are those core foundational elements all fundraisers need to be effective fundraisers. Its true value lies in the fact it is always available to re-visit.  These include: 

  • Maintain up-to-date project and program templates – organisations need to be ready to act when that suitable grant opportunity emerges with a month’s notice. Having your project information prepared will ensure grant applications can be submitted; 
  • Key messages – have a range of documents and collateral ready for potential donors or other supporters who express support for your organisation’s work; 
  • Keep up relationships with current and past funders, be they government or philanthropic – maintaining relations is as important as securing the funds. A supporter is more likely to continue their commitment if they have been kept updated on the impact of their support; 
  • Reporting and evaluation – take the time to establish the systems needed to effectively report on the impact of grants and other funding.  This is the ultimate in “short-term pain for long-term gain.” If your organisation is late with acquittals and progress reporting, you will reduce your chances of repeat funding in the future.  
  • Embed measurement and evaluation into your projects from the very start. Use your data to tell a compelling story. Mix up narrative, visuals and numbers to engage and enlighten the funder.  It will clearly demonstrate why your organisation is best placed to continue this important work and bring about change.   

Thriving in the competitive landscape of government funding

In the ever-evolving world of fundraising for New Zealand not-for-profits, one thing remains clear: government funding is a finite resource that can shift unexpectedly.

To thrive in this competitive landscape, philanthropy and fundraising managers must remain agile, embrace data-driven strategies, and, above all, master the fundraising fundamentals.  

Remember that strong relationships and consistent, effective reporting are your currency when it comes to grant funding. They are your keys to long-term success. The funding jungle may be challenging, but with the right tools and practices, you can secure the support needed to continue making a positive impact in your community.  

The Strategic Grants team can support you with all aspects of your grant-seeking strategy. Get in touch today!

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