Yaneek Page | Funding a do-good enterprise
QUESTION: I saw where you posted on social media a grant opportunity for US$30,000, but unfortunately, by the time I saw it, the application closed. I do a lot of youth work with youth empowerment and community building. I’ve got many accolades...
QUESTION: I saw where you posted on social media a grant opportunity for US$30,000, but unfortunately, by the time I saw it, the application closed. I do a lot of youth work with youth empowerment and community building. I’ve got many accolades over the years. I was planning on doing an official launch for my social charity this year. My goal is to make it my full-time job because I know this is my calling. What is stopping me is fear of lack of funding. What do you think about the possibility of funding for this full time? Can you post some other options for funding please.
– K, social media user
BUSINESSWISE: I’m so sorry that you missed the deadline for the grant application I shared a few weeks ago. Fortunately, it appears to be an annual offer for ‘do good’ enterprises that focus specifically on advancing one or more the 17 sustainable development goals.
For the benefit of my readers, the application may be found at https://weempower.awardsplatform.com, for future reference.
If you intend to apply next year, I suggest you do these three things to ensure that your application is well received:
• Visit the awards platform and carefully examine the application criteria, past winners, and their pitch videos. Pay careful attention to the questions the judges ask and how the winners responded;
• Create a checklist and begin actioning each item so that you meet the requirements months in advance; and
• Review the Sustainable Development Goals at https://sdgs.un.org/goals and determine which of the goals your work addresses and how. Ensure that you have data and evidence that can support your claims.
It may be inspiring to know that Jamaican Valrie Grant is a past awardee of this grant, and specifically, to further her initiative to provide tablets to students in Jamaica. Her pitch may be found on YouTube and should be very helpful in your funding/grant pitch preparations.
The website grantwatch.com currently has hundreds of grant opportunities, some of which you may be eligible to receive. In addition to visiting that website I would suggest doing internet research and setting a ‘Google alert’ for key words such as “grants for Caribbean non-profits’ so that you will receive daily reports on anything posted on the Internet with such opportunities. I also recommend that you curate your own list of annual grant opportunities and schedule the application submission dates in your calendar to allow yourself as many options as possible and ample time to prepare.
Locally, some of the international development organisations, embassies, and overseas missions based in Jamaica often have funding opportunities for specific projects aligned with either development goals or their own strategic objectives. It may be worthwhile to visit the websites and social media pages of these entities and go even further to contact their public affairs section or communication and press officers to enquire about grants, assistance, or projects they will fund.
While I hope that you will be able to find financial backing to allow you to pursue your youth development work full time, the reality is that sustainable funding for non-profit organisations is extremely difficult to come by. These challenges were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw many established non-profits either scaling down considerably or shutting down operations due to the funding drought.
You will likely come across several news items lamenting the dire situation faced by some of the most noteworthy and impactful entities in the world. In fact, locally, many of our charities are struggling. It doesn’t help that recent research in the market points to a waning spirit of volunteerism and charity among youth.
Given the unavoidable challenges you will encounter in funding your non-profit, it is important that you embark on a detailed strategic planning exercise before you formalise the registration. Remember that non-profit organisations are still cost centres. You’ll still have fixed costs that need to be covered monthly.
Another key consideration is that there is a cost to accessing all types of funding, some of which extend to access, documentation, monitoring, evaluation and assessment, and reporting.
The approach you may, therefore, want to consider is a hybrid for profit social enterprise, in which you maximise impact, not profit, while making enough to sustain the operations. This may necessitate providing services at a subsidised cost to beneficiaries and using collaboration with partners, and/or crowdfunding, etc, as a supportive pillar, rather than relying solely on donations.
I hope this is helpful, and I wish you all the best in your efforts to do good for your country and to have a positive impact on those you serve.
n Yaneek Page is the programme lead for Market Entry USA, a certified trainer in entrepreneurship, and creator and executive producer of The Innovators and Let’s Make Peace TV series. firstname.lastname@example.org