Often when an organisation is poised for growth, questions arise regarding building human capacity, incorporating new processes, staying aligned to the organisation’s vision and mission etc. The following case study adapted from Inyathelo’s publication: Striking the Rights Chord gives an example of how an organisation experiencing growth integrated its processes meaningfully with organisational capacity and long term sustainability in mind.
The start-up organisation had experienced substantial growth its 6 year existence which impacted on ways in which Advancement activities were carried out. The Grants Administrator and Researcher both write that programme and support staff are key to these efforts, and they highlight how clarity on an organisation’s vision and mission can enhance the Advancement strategy. The organisation’s growth was experienced in its breadth of work and its staffing capacity, further explained below:
- Re-distribution of responsibilities: Initially the Director would undertake prospect research, however when staffing capacity increased, the Director was able to work more strategically and delegate some Advancement functions to other staff members within the institute.
- Defining roles/priority functions needed: The first Advancement team comprised of a part-time Grants Administrator, the Financial Administrator and the Director. The creation of this team enabled them to look at their strategy from the perspective of how to put plans into place and to grow and expand the work of the institute in a comprehensive and holistic fashion.
- Extensive (prospect) research: As a part of the Advancement team, the Grants Administrator (then designated as Personal Assistant to the Director) started to undertake background reading. This included getting to grips with all concept notes, proposals and reports so that she could oversee timely reporting and stewarding of funding partners. It was also critical for her to understand the fit between funding partners and the values of the organisation which inform all programmatic work. More importantly, in order to undertake prospect research effectively and efficiently she had to be acquainted with the organisation’s vision and mission. The information gathered for prospect research was incorporated into a new Information Management System tailored to suit the organisation’s needs.
- Advancement at the core: Researchers form the core of the programme staff at the organisation and play a crucial role in identifying and pursuing funding opportunities to support the organisation’s objectives. By adopting a ‘from the ground up’ approach to raising resources for the organisation’s research projects, the organisation put Advancement at the heart of the organisation’s practice. In their role as fundraisers, researchers are directed by the organisation’s vision which is translated into research project areas.
- Internal collaboration: Researchers work closely with the Grants Administrator in her donor prospecting to identify potential funding sources that could advance both their own project areas and the mission of the organisation as a whole. Calls for proposals and potential prospects, aligned with mission, are scouted for on this basis. There is considerable pressure on researchers to ensure a pipeline of prospects so that they stay on the job, keep growing the organisation’s research outputs, and transform project funders into core donors.
- Alignment with external stakeholders: In supporting organisational Advancement, and in helping to identify investment opportunities, researchers must have a sound understanding of their field of research so that opportunities for alignment with potential donor investment are harnessed. This also allows proposals to be developed that marry donor requirements with the organisation’s research imperatives. As part of the organisation’s grant stewardship, researchers must also be well versed in grant reporting requirements to provide relevant and timely information to the Advancement team.
Judge, M. and Jones, S. (eds). 2012. Striking the Rights Chord: Perspectives on Advancement from Human Rights Organisations in South Africa. Cape Town. Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement (Adaptation of pages 56 to 57).