What was one of your biggest takeaways from this intensive?
So much comes down to communication. I need to share with funders what’s at the core of the organization and communicate strategically. Fundraising proposals need to be aligned to the greater vision of the organization and not become separate islands written exclusively in the language of the funder. I have much more confidence in my ability to write proposals that are both mission-driven and aligned with the interests and values of donors. Proposals that always connect projects back to the overall goals of the organization. Before proposals would go out that were largely written to fit with the language and framing of the funder at the risk of becoming separate activities and not 100% aligned with what Akhaya stands for.
Communications is critical! Now I see how integral it is to fund raising and sustainability.
What changes have you made to your team?
We have built a team with specific roles. People are focused: we are not trying to split functions in a single role: for example, programs and finance together. Hiring a resource development person changed the organization and allowed me to sleep at night. But fundraising is different. We understand that is not in a silo and for our organization to be truly resilient, a team of people need to engage in fundraising all the time.
What are you doing differently at Akaya now?
I wasn’t treating the small donors the same as the big ones. Before I might have left them out of some things. Our efforts are more effective if we work the same way with all donors: communicate frequently and be strategic.
Was there an ‘a-ha!’ moment in your financial resilience journey?
Understanding prospecting was a big ‘a-ha’! Before it seemed too difficult to attract donors who didn’t know me. But the prospecting process taught me that with planning and research, we can find great funders. And they will be happy to hear from us!
How has the course prepared you better for the future?
Now we are the sweetheart of the funding world. But this will change in the next few years. We need to prepare, be proactive. I am telling everyone to come out of their comfort zone.
Although we are small, we are a strongest organization, in terms of systems and thinking. I do not want to grow bigger as Akhaya, I want to lift others up, bring others along. That is how we need to grow together, as a movement. I was aware of the changing landscape but now I have a much more concrete information and am not afraid to anticipate it.
How would you describe your organizations state of financial resilience before you started the program? And How would you describe it today?
Before: Uncertain road, unclear journey.
Today: Clear strategic road.