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Supporting Capacity Building In Asia Leads To Stronger Communities

by Aqeela Jogee

At Give2Asia, we have a network of over 2,000 nonprofit organizations across 23 countries in Asia that we have vetted and or partnered with. In the past decade, our experience has highlighted a notable growth of nonprofits. For example, in China, the number of nonprofits grew 10% in the past two years alone to over 600,000 organizations. In India, the number of registered nonprofits is even more staggering, with a total of 2 million organizations. A similar trend can also be observed in South Korea, Philippines and other countries across the region.

Observing this trend has been very exciting! Across Asia, we have witnessed local nonprofits working every day to strengthen communities, provide critical services to indigenous populations, and advance access to equal opportunity and services. However, as the number of nonprofits in Asia grow to meet increasing social needs, they face challenges that limit their ability to make sustainable impact.

Building strong resilient organizations with diverse funding streams.

While their grassroots mission may be better suited to serve local communities, those very factors limit their opportunity to compete for funding. A reoccurring concern voiced by local nonprofits across Give2Asia’s network is that it is challenging to build resilient organizations because they face barriers to securing diverse funding. In developing social sectors, communities may be more focused on their own sustenance. With limited funding opportunities in their local communities, nonprofits often seek to obtain funding from external funders.

Smaller organizations also face a lack of trust and confidence from donors. Recently a study by FSG, the Global Philanthropy Forum and the Rockefeller, Gates and Ford Foundations found that philanthropists are eager to support local nonprofits, but they lack confidence that nonprofits can to deliver because they appear under-resourced. It is also challenging for local nonprofits to compete with the marketing strategies that larger organizations have, and ultimately local organizations fall into a communication trap where their limited English-language ability, technical capacity, and online media presence overwhelm their locally-driven and community-led solutions.

Developing efficient staffing, systems and leadership to sustain successful programs.

Faced with limited and uncertain funding opportunities, lack of confidence from donors, and an inadvertent communication trap, nonprofits are left with very little time, capacity, or funding to develop efficient staffing, systems, and leadership to quell donors’ fears and sustain successful programs for local communities.

Nonprofits who are successful in attracting donors feel obligated to expand their services due to pressures to maximize impact. Expansion inevitably leads to an over-stressed staff and inefficient operations, a phenomenon that is exacerbated by the fact that most donors support project-specific grants that designate between 10% to 20% of the total grant amount towards operational costs such as staff salaries, systems strengthening, or leadership training.

Strengthening the infrastructure of nonprofits is vital to the sustainability of local nonprofits.

If the philanthropy community really is committed to strengthening local communities across Asia, a commitment to strengthening the organizational infrastructure of nonprofits is necessary. Give2Asia provides two actionable methods for donors to support and strengthen nonprofit operations.

The first method is Give2Asia’s Fiscal Sponsorship program which offers donors an option to donate to over 250 vetted Asia-based charitable organizations. All donations are unrestricted gifts which nonprofits can designate as needed. The flexibility of this program allows nonprofits to utilize critical funds towards strengthening organizational infrastructure.

The second method is through Give2Asia’s Advisory Services program which leverages Give2Asia’s field network to provide customized technical training for local community organizations. With support from donors, Give2Asia provides training on proposal development, project implementation, evaluation and reporting best practices, and donor stewardship and diversification. The trainings are provided by experts in the local language with the local context.

By elevating the importance of supporting capacity building and sharing actionable ways to address capacity gaps in local organizations, Give2Asia hopes to help develop a stronger nonprofit sector in Asia, and ultimately healthy and vibrant societies throughout the region.

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