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The Impact Navigator: Our Resources

How do you mobilize funding, partners, and supporters? (Sphere 4)

If the impact is the currency in the for-purpose world, where does the funding come in?

It depends. We can certainly say that there have been impactful organisations operating on very little funding. Just think about some of the large movements, such as the civil rights movement or Fridays for Future. But also, some powerful digital for-purpose organisations such as, or operate on comparably meagre funding.  

However, many services or initiatives in the for-purpose world require larger funding, for example, to provide services to the elderly or general health services for the public. In Canada, 9% of the GDP is attributed to not-for-profit organisations, which employ millions of people.  BRAC, a Bangladeshi development organisation, which is considered one of the largest non-governmental organisations in the world employs around 100,000 people. They need to be paid and they need funds to implement their activities.

To portray the large diversity of resource mobilization in the for-purpose world, we need to think beyond fundraising or in-kind contribution and consider resource models which include partnerships and supporters such as strategic partners, alliances, members or groups that can be activated. 

Within the Impact Cards, there is also a Resource Deck. We have found 40 broad resource mobilization models. Some of them are already hundreds of years old, such as the collection bag in church, while others are relatively new like digital crowdfunding.

Resource Models (Element 4.1)

There is one thing we can say for sure: organisational leaders are always concerned about resources. Without resources, there is no impact. Either you need money, or you need people and partners.  And the more and the better those resources are, the more impact you can create.

Just like for the impact models of Sphere 3, we assume that an organisation has two or three main resource mobilization models. For example, for international development NGOs child sponsorships from private donors and grants from institutional donors provide the largest share of their funding, and local strategic partners are the main resource to create impact in the countries of the Global South. Sometimes organisations develop and successfully run their resource models for decades. For instance, Save the Children introduced child sponsorships more than 100 years ago and it is still a successful fundraising strategy today.

However, for other organisations, the landscape for resource mobilization is changing all the time. Institutional donors that had prioritized your field of work for years may suddenly change their focus, or your strategic partner is suddenly closed by a new government.

Our card set will inspire you to look beyond what you do right now and explore other ways of mobilizing funding, partnerships, or people.  

Card 17 of the Resource Deck is an example of funding

Card 31 of the Resource Deck is an example of mobilizing people and partner

Actual resources: Funding, Partnerships and People (Element 4.2)

While the models above define the theory, there is also the practical side of resource mobilization. Key aspects to consider when it comes to resource mobilization are:

  1. Strategic fit and quality of funding, partners, and supporters: does the funding enable you to do what you set out to do, or does it have lots of strings attached? Also, is there a strategic fit with the donors and their aspirations? Do your partners and supporters share your purpose and values?

  2. Numbers: do you have adequate funding and sufficient partners to fulfil your impact ambitions and ensure the sustainability of the organisation?

  3. Attractiveness: are you able to attract donors, talented people, and partners, who share the same passion and the same agenda?

  4. Retention: do you have the systems in place to retain donors, partners and supporters, for instance, financial compliance or adequate engagement of members? 

  5. Progression: are you adjusting your resource mobilization to changes in the context? Are you continuously trying to improve your resource mobilization?   

  6. Resilience: is your organisation resilient? Do you have the funding, partners and supporters to sustain the organisation vis-à-vis a changing context and associated risks? 


Exercise questions on impact: 

  • How is your organisation mobilizing resources? What are the dominant models?

  • Are those models in tune with the way you create impact and the values of your organisation?

  • Screen the 40 cards of the resource deck for ideas that could help your organisation mobilize resources in new ways. 

  • What are your main concerns when it comes to resource mobilization?

  • How can you tackle those resource mobilization issues?

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