Hot On The Heels Of Change—5 Insights From The 2015 AVPN ConferenceAnil Birla | June 14, 2015
Intentions and results are inextricably connected. If you intend to do something, then you better do it —there’s little point otherwise.
All non-profits have good intentions, but very few actually end up achieving what they set out to do in the first place. From unsupportive grant makers to insufficient talent, a host of problems constantly threaten to derail their progress.
Venture philanthropy is an approach conceived by those looking to fix the spate of issues that NGOs frequently face. And in our part of the world, there’s no better way to imbibe ideas of venture philanthropy than by attending the AVPN Conference.
One of the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network aims is to equip NGOs with the right kind of knowledge and skillsets. This year, they held a massive conference where 478 dedicated delegates gathered under one roof to grapple with common hurdles.
At Vardaan, we were glad to be one of the 304 organizations attending this event. Here’s what we learnt from it.
Insight 1 – Embracing Venture Philanthropy
Increasing the flow of intellectual, human, and financial capital to the social sector is a pretty difficult task. And since venture philanthropy practices aim to do just that, we’ve decided to evolve our approach a little bit.
Advising social enterprises and raising funds for them will be our two new areas of practice. In other words we intend to tap into this fast emerging sector in the Indian landscape which will have a profound social impact in the years to come.
Insight 2 – Being A Bit More Subtle
Sometimes, in order to have dessert, you need to plow your way through the main course. The same logic applies to the trickier aspects of social change—in order to have the necessary impact, your efforts may need to be indirect.
For instance, if your actual plan is to help a community become more self-sufficient, then your initial aim should be to build better houses for the members.
Identify that one thing which everyone in the community is desperately in need of, and get busy trying plug that gap. Once you gain the trust of community members, it becomes much easier to achieve your long-term objectives.
Insight 3 – Keeping Donors In The Loop
It’s the donors that pump life into every nonprofit. And understandably, not all NGOs know how to deal with them in the best manner possible. The idea is to involve the donor in each and every step of the project being undertaken. This way, the contributor’s perception of your efforts aren’t based only on results, which sometimes may not be that appealing.
In one survey, nearly 82% of NGOs agreed that they needed smarter, more engaged donors, while more than 90% of donors felt that they required more data and better opportunities. Clearly, there’s a gap that we need to address here.
Insight 4 – Companies Need To Engage Their Customers
Big companies in the fashion, airlines, hospitality, and film industries often have deep engagement levels with high-net-worth individuals (HNIs). Such organizations need to make their customers an active part of their CSR endeavours. Not only does this lead to better funding, it also provides more incentive for companies to engage themselves in social initiatives.
Insight 5 – Building Organizational Capacity
Non-profits require all the talent that they can get their hands on. But as the problem often lies, they may not always have the money to pay the salaries of their employees. This can be quite demanding for a person who’s already doing a lot without expecting much in return. Ensuring that key staff members receive their monthly income is an effective way to build capacity.
It’s also important to build a proper network and maintain long-term relationships. Trust us when we say that sometimes, all it takes is one phone call to make a lasting change in the lives of millions.