Advancement is an entry point to organisational sustainability. It is a multi-layered approach to engaging the external environment and encourages organisations to work in an integrated way to attract the resources optimal for sustainability. It’s about strategic positioning for investment and requires organisations to think of resourcing beyond reactively responding to calls for proposals. Advancement, therefore, is not a euphemism for fundraising. The Advancement approach – when deconstructed – comprises 10 elements for consideration, viz. Governance; Leadership; Strategy and Planning; Building Relationships; Human Capacity; Voice; Visibility; Monitoring and Evaluation; Financial Management; and Fundraising Tools. It is a long-term approach requiring time and resource, including people and transaction costs.
It is how these aspects of Advancement interact and engage each other in an integrated way that leads to effective relationship building with key stakeholders. By way of an example, an organisation can use its tools of visibility to amplify its voice on issues impacting on the sector in which it operates. That voice and visibility can in turn build the profile and credibility of the organisation as well as strengthen the leadership profile – which is one way of cultivating relationships within particular constituency groups.
More than the sum of its ten elements, Advancement is a way of thinking about organisational sustainability. Organisations have different biographies, realities, and contexts (socio-economic, political, etc.) and are at varying stages of the organisational life cycle. It is for organisations to ascertain where they are and given how they’re resourced and situated, prioritise accordingly.
There is no one size fits all in Advancement.
This article is an extract from What we’re learning | Perspectives from a Resource Mobilisation for Research Programme; a publication developed to show some of our learnings from the Resource Mobilisation for Research (RMR) programme.
Inyathelo was brought on board by the International Development Research Centre to work alongside participating organisations as they implemented their RMR grants.