Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Thankyou take-away lessons

Charlotte-MelbourneAuthor: Charlotte Francis

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Kirk Pereira, Business Development Manager at Thankyou, a social enterprise founded in 2008 in response to global poverty.  Starting out as a bottled water company and now extending to food, body and baby care, Thankyou donate 100% of their profits to life-changing food, water, health and sanitation programs around the world. You’ll have no doubt seen and/or bought their products in your local supermarket. 

To date they have changed half a million lives and given out over $4.8 million to food, water, sanitation, and maternal and child health programsthankyou for people in need.

So how did the company go from being a group of friends around a table in Melbourne to a thriving business with over 40 products available in 5000 outlets in Australia (including 7 Eleven, Coles and Woolworths)? And what can we learn from their approach and  how does it apply to our grant-seeking? 

The take-aways from Kirk’s talk were:

  1. The importance of teamwork and alignment in the organisation, with everyone united behind the vision for the company. Charities that are working to a common goal where all the staff are part of the developing and owning the strategic and business plan are those that are the most successful. Funders like to see organisations that are well managed and governed.

  2. “The fear of failure kills off more dreams than failure itself,” said Kirk, and “Remember why you started.” Does this resonate with you?  Is your organisation afraid of innovation or are you adapting to shifting funding models, sectoral and policy changes? Is your board open to change? What is their appetite for risk? 

  3. Persistence and perseverance are vital to an organisation’s success. Thankyou’s journey was not an easy one, they encountered resistance, competition and closed doors when they first took their product to market but they persevered, never losing faith in their vision and goals.

    The same lesson applies to grant-seeking; don’t give up if your applications don’t at first meet with success -  seek feedback, build the relationship and keep trying. 

  4. Social media needs to be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Thankyou were very creative in their use of social media. They invited the public to help put pressure on 7 Eleven, Coles and Woolworths to take Thankyou products by producing and posting online videos demonstrating their support on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. In 2015 Thankyou achieved 77 million media impressions and 200 media hits. Check out their Coles and Woolworths campaign here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsvzYq2melM  

  5. Always remain positive. Don’t ask what will happen if a campaign doesn’t work, but what will happen if it does! 

  6. Clearly communicate the impact of your work. Each Thankyou product has its own tracking code enabling consumers to see the impact of their purchase on people’s lives in developing countries. They also prepare and send out email reports when projects conclude. How are you measuring and demonstrating the social and economic impact of your projects?