International Strategy in Action
It is most encouraging to see how many NGOs nowadays are taking a more thoughtful and strategic view of fundraising in new markets, rather than adopting the follow-the-leader approach that characterised the recent past. Consider, for example, the contrasting approaches taken by one midsized NGO when investing in new fundraising markets in the 1990s and then again in the 2000s.
In the ’90s, one market was opened because the organisation found some overseas supporters on its U.K. database, another because trustees insisted it should be present there, and a third because a competitor had entered the market and seemed to be doing OK. Only the first of these was successful — and only after a long investment period. Even today, this NGO has found it difficult to withdraw from the two unsuccessful markets due to the small numbers of supporters who it feels unable to abandon despite the poor return.
Learning from this experience, when this NGO revisited its international fundraising programme in 2003, it took a far more strategic look at new market potential. Crucially, it carefully considered five key steps:
1. It considered its organisational strategy — where would it need to work in the future to deliver its mission? The organisation made two important strategic decisions that had a major impact on the fundraising market choice: First, it would not enter a market purely for fundraising purposes, and second, it would link its fundraising to grassroots-movement building.
2. It assessed the full picture of global fundraising to understand where fundraising was taking place around the world and where the opportunities lay for market entry in the next three to five years. This “fundraising map” then was overlaid onto the mission map and resulted in a list of eight important mission markets with medium or good fundraising potential.
Related story: Responding to the Global Marketplace