There’s an overarching problem with NGOs and it centres on the fact that the entity is wholly dependent on outside funding to exist. If the funding goes, no matter how good the cause is, so does the organisation.
“Even though many businesses have CSR funds that go to NGOs, they’re still vulnerable if the purse strings tighten,” says Kerrin Black, founder of Faces of Hope, a cancer awareness and fund-raising NGO.
“What’s needed is sustainable income and a mutually beneficial relationship between business and charity, so that’s how Faces of Hope has come to be what it is today,” Black says.
The problem that led to Faces of Hope
“The origins of Faces of Hope go back to a history of cancer in my family and friend circle. A close friend needed cancer treatment but couldn’t afford it because he was between medical aid schemes.
“We hosted events and golf days to raise funds but found it quite hard as we weren’t a registered charity. We approached a law firm and they sponsored a Section 21 pro bono.
“The second problem is that events are great, but they’re short-lived, funds are sporadic, and unless you have sponsors it can actually cost money to raise money,” explains Black.
Generating multiple streams of income
Black’s solution is to generate multiple streams of income. “I come from an entertainment background and noticed a gap in the market for casting. I created an online database for talent, called Talentfinders that caters for every entertainment genre. Talentfinders donates some of its profits to Faces of Hope as part of its own CSR initiative.”
Their second stream of income comes from marketing. “People are always going to spend money on things they want. So we approach businesses from SMEs to big brands and offer them marketing in exchange for a percentage of sale on the product we’re marketing,” explains Black.
“I use my extensive network to get our marketing campaigns sponsored – our high-profile celebs, gorgeous locations, props and costs are effectively donated – and we get a percentage of sales from the visibility generated.”
What results is a mutually beneficial relationship. “We’re able to give small businesses a platform that’s starting to extend into the international market. What we do for big business is instead of them spending on branded stationery, for example, the funds come our way and they become associated with a good cause.”
Of course a third income stream is generated from the public. “Many people want to do good, so we’re trying to create a movement so that funds raised from personal initiatives at school events or from the 94.7 Cycle Challenge come to us,” says Black.
Keeping the NGO sustainable
Cancer treatment is prohibitively expensive and Faces of Hope’s funds aren’t infinite. “One of our patients needed R500 000 for a treatment that wasn’t approved in South Africa and medical aid wouldn’t cover it. In less than six months we had five cases needing the same drug,” says Black.
“To keep our pool of funds sustainable, we have an auditor who determines what percentage we can take for treatments. We have to be selective and focus on where we can achieve the most impact with the funds we have. And where we don’t have funds we do our best to raise them.”
Where to from here?
“We’re in the process of registering Faces of Hope in America as a grant-based programme. Dollars have much more punch and anyone, inside or outside of the States can apply.