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Making Your Case for Sustainability to Funders

| Ruen Govinder | SEC Blog

As a non-profit or social enterprise in South Africa, securing funding is crucial but incredibly competitive. Funders want to see that their investment will have a lasting impact beyond the initial project period. That's why it's so important to clearly demonstrate the sustainability of your proposal.

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Many funders, whether corporate social investment programs, foundations, or government agencies, have been burned by funding initiatives that fizzled out as soon as the money dried up. They are looking for interventions and organisations built to go the distance.

So, how can you convince funders that your proposal merits their support for the long haul? There’s a little more to it than cleverly phrasing impressive jargon in the grant proposal. It’s comes down to following some basic financial best practices. Here’s what funders typically look for:

Diverse revenue streams

Don't rely too heavily on a single funder or revenue source. Illustrate your plans to build a mixed funding model through initiatives like fee-for-service, product sales, corporate partnerships, individual donors, etc. The more diversified your funding base, the less risk for any single funder.

Sustainable implementation model

Describe how your operations will continue in a cost-effective, self-sustaining way after the initial investment period. Are there ways to hand off responsibilities to communities, NGO partners, or government? How will you leverage existing resources and infrastructure? 

Lasting impact

It's not just about sustaining your organisation's activities temporarily - you need to spell out the long-term positive impact you aim to have on people's lives, communities, or the environment. Funders want to see a clear theory of change with tangible, enduring benefits.

Local ownership and empowerment

Funders are keen to support initiatives built on local leadership, skills transfer, and empowerment of the communities you serve. Demonstrating how your work will build lasting local capacity is critical.

Financial planning

You must include a multi-year financial model and projections showing how you will deploy the requested funds over time and ultimately become self-sustaining through diversified revenue streams.

Proving your sustainability story takes work, but it's essential in today's South African funding landscape. Funders are seeking true partners they can trust for the long haul, not one-off donation recipients. Make your commitment to lasting impact crystal clear.


This article is part of a series on fundraising for your social enterprise. For more on this topic, visit our Resource Centre: https://socialenterpriseconnect.co.za/members/resource-centre (Members Only!)

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