In August, one of our Ask Me Anything sessions focused on “Communicating your purpose”. (You can check the video here).
Here’s the set of questions we looked at:
Question 1 Why is having a clear purpose important?
Servane Mouazan: Let me share with you a conversation I had with Isabel Kelly, a social justice advocate and founder of “Profit With Purpose”, a consultancy she founded, after a few years at Salesforce. She ran the international team at Salesforce Foundation and turned it into a profitable ($12m revenue) business unit within the company. This enabled the delivery of the 1/1/1 model of corporate philanthropy - volunteering, grants and product donation, which was, in effect, a start-up social enterprise embedded into a fast-growing commercial company.
Now with Profit with Purpose, Isabel is bringing both the NGO and corporate worlds together by creating strategies with SMEs who want to integrate real social purpose into their business.
I asked Isabel: What questions do your clients never ask you, you wished they did…?
Isabel Kelly said: “I wish clients were more questioning about WHY they do the things they do… Organisations tend to get very focused on the tactics (the ‘what’) and the 'why’ gets lost along the way. It’s essential to have a clearly articulated purpose or vision for the social impact they want to create, together with a great plan for how to get there. Clients rush to wanting to fundraise or increase their income but often need to take a few steps back to better articulate their proposition”.
Question 2: I think I need to be clear about my own purpose first, what do you think?
And these things change or can appear to you suddenly.
Look at how Cecilia Milesi, from Global Change and Subir al Sur in Argentina, states hers:
“I’m a woman with a clear purpose since childhood. I work collectively with many others to co-create a world of justice and dignity for all. “
“I was never an environmentalist on purpose - I think I fell into it! But now I’m seeing that we need more people like me to make some noise about the environment. Most people do not think environmental issues are important. Changing this is a matter of life and death.
It doesn’t matter where you are, the well-being of the planet affects us all! Some people think: Well, oh, what we need in Africa is roads and security, or this and that. The environment is not high on their list of priorities.
They talk about securing the pyramid of food, shelter, and clothing before you get anything else. People need to hear that the real base of the pyramid is the environment – if you don’t have a stable, safe environment, then you cannot survive”
The last example is from Essma Ben Hamida from Enda Inter-Arabe in Tunisia.
Essma co-founded enda inter-arabe with her husband Michael in 1990. It is now one of the highest rated microfinance institutions in the world, and has distributed over one million loans, benefiting over 330,000 borrowers.
“I left teaching to become a journalist – I dreamt of changing the world. But despite writing about the big issues, I realised I was disappointed because nothing changed; they were not solving any problems.”
At some point she realised something about the contributions of small NGOs who were really doing something against poverty despite adverse contexts.
“An article on why farmers in Tunisia were not paying back their loans brought me home. I talked to a lot of people, a lot of women - the situation was very bad. Suddenly, while talking to a woman, something struck me very significantly. In Tunisia, we call it ‘maktoub’ - it was a moment of seeing my destiny, my purpose. I was sent to do this article so that I can reconnect with my country, and do something to help the women of Tunisia”.
Essma Ben Hamida
Question 3 What do you need to focus on when you work on your organisation purpose statement?
SM: When you run a social business - meaning, when you align your commercial objectives with your social purpose - you are not always selling easy products or services (at least not all of us), you put some social and environmental parameters in the equation. What we do is connected to a change that is needed, pain, sometimes horror stories, issues we want to see gone. And the first hurdle - after making sense of our why - is to communicate what we do without making people run away, or roll their eyes with early exhaustion. We need to keep them on board. Not just feel inspired…
When you start crafting your organisation statement, something you need to think about is “Am I challenging enough?” or “Am I overwhelming / confusing my audience?”
At Ogunte, since 2001, we have chosen to explore social entrepreneurship with a gender lens and specifically highlight and support women who focus on changing people’s worlds, and their environment. It is a very wide angle as we have to be intersectional to cater for the various needs or objectives women have in this space, and at the same time we want to see them shine and make decisions at the highest level possible, without victimising them. Our challenge is to make this topic exciting enough and not overwhelming for people who might be overwhelmed by feminism… (although I think they have a problem of their own, if that is their case!)
We have a tagline that helps us in the process: “A better world, powered by women…”
This is a conversation trigger… it assumes something is changing, and that women are heard, at the heart of decision-making, valued and recognised in the process of powering, fueling change, alongside men, and in all their diversity, and intersectionality.
(At least, that’s what we hope this tagline vehiculates… Maybe some people feel overwhelmed… so we need to balance this by explicitly adding specifics on how we do this and how OTHERS can do this. So it shouldn’t’ be instructions, but guidance, and beliefs, a “rallying value layer” that gives a flavour of your ethos and how you do things.
We believe in ImpactWomen:
Influential, skilled and connected women with bold solutions to social and environmental issues can create sustainable opportunities to make the world a better place. They are also more likely to be listened to and valued as civic, political and economic contributors.
… and a strong support ecosystem
We believe that a stronger ecosystem of advisors, supporters and finance providers, that operates with a conscious gender-lens, can contribute to grow women in social enterprises and their work.
Our purpose is to make this healthy ecosystem a reality, to address gender equality, and contribute to social justice.
So the final bit is about Repercussions and Rewards.
• What is the cost of you not intervening.
• What is the reward and the benefit of your intervention?
Question 4: What if I am in a place where it is not safe to speak up and share my organisation’s purpose?
When you are in an unsafe place/ social or political context, you need to create alliances, and form a block with other like minded organisations, a united voice. For your personal support and also to never stay isolated. Find common purposes beyond your own, a network organisation for instance that understands your objectives. A great example is the Association for progressive communications ( APC). APC is an international network of organizations that was founded back in 1990 to provide communication infrastructure, including Internet-based applications, to groups and individuals who work for peace, human rights, protection of the environment, and sustainability. So very frequently, when their members see their internet shut down, APC creates a relay network to provide support, and continue to provide information on their behalf if that is what they need.
Question 5: Why is willing to change (or save…) the world not enough?
SM: Because it is vague, whose world is it? Maybe it’s not believable, changing the whole world? Who is changing it, who is helping, who is likely financing it? Who is calling the cards? Changing it t what, to whose image? Who is inclined to campaign and change the law to support this plan?
Why hasn’t been done before?
And whilst you are focusing on this, what would be the systemic repercussions of achieving your purpose?
a) The brain doesn’t like a blank sheet. It finds it horrible, you have to plant the seeds of your story, so set the context, bring in evidence.
b) Start to work with what you know, the evidence you have, you need to buy in this purpose 100% and contribute to it day and night, as a matter of principle, otherwise you will feel mis-aligned.
c) A course I encourage you to take up to grasp the origins and consequences of issues and how to affect change systemically, is the System Practice course by Acumen+ (Next intake October 2018 - Free course)
Communicating your purpose is about clarity of intention, it is about timeliness, and audience. It is about why your presence is relevant, how you fit, now and overtime. At some point you will have to explain how you serve, how you create change, which tools you use. Immediately after this statement, you should be able to bring about evidence, traction, and arguments that support this statement.
At the core of it, at its foundation, is of course, how you as an individual are able to find your MAKTOUB.
Like Essma Ben Hamida from Enda InterArabe, when stars align and you take a step back, you can find yourself at the intersection of duty, care, dream, passion and skills, you find your purpose, your destiny. Listen carefully and observe!
Please look at our previous videos on our Facebook page, they are packed with links, resources and tips (we previously talked about leadership, governance, and today was the AMA on Communicating your Purpose).
There are many ways we can help you grow your social venture, check out our services here
by Servane Mouazan
This is a quick cheat sheet that you can use when you get too much advice and guidelines, and your head starts spinning.
Focus on the essential (in this post and the ones that precede… we are here to serve!)
All I want is peace.
My head is spinning because movements and initiatives supporting women are popping out everywhere, but also with them the cathartic confirmation that deeply ingrained behaviours and beliefs (colonialism, toxic patriarchal ways and racism) impend our best efforts to help.
And it reminds me that peace building is a hurtful business.
That’s why I want to spend a few minutes thinking of the marks left by women fighting for peace through social movements, politics, and social enterprises that impact on people, planet, and the rule of law.
What if we learnt and took stock of the soft power that female activists, politicians and human rights defenders, such as Marielle Franco, Jo Cox, Berta Cáceres, have been using with great craft, albeit paying it with their life?
Peace building requires a lot of… fighting. That’s the contradictio in terminis that sadly forms the basis of activism. Fighting to get heard, fighting to co-create with the voiceless a platform where they can follow up their aspirations and exert their rights in dignity.
Yet peace-building starts the moment you decide to nod and smile at your neighbour, and understand how it impacts on their day.
In NGOs and social enterprises, peace-building efforts are embedded in every-day (well-run) governance.
I want to hear what you make of their example and really want to read about your own experience in the comments below!
I am totally convinced we need more women in politics, but it’s not just that.
If we want to make this world a place worth living in, we need to look at our everyday connection with power and how it is used.
Your impact will be measured by how you made the invisible visible and how you create a space where they are valued and counted.
Brazilian activist Marielle Franco who emerged from her fight against homophobia, racism, poverty, corruption, and the intersection of it all, made it an obvious choice to grow as a human rights’ defender, a vocal challenger, a peace-maker, and ultimately run for election. This was a symbolic act but also an impactful act of leadership. As she became increasingly political, Franco joined Brazil’s new left-wing party, the Party of Socialism and Liberty (PSOL), and quickly became one of its rising stars.
Journalist and Human Rights activist Rebeca Lerer, from Sao Paulo, says:
“It’s not just about bringing more women in politics. Marielle Franco was not just a city councillor. She was a black, lesbian woman, born and raised in the favela, involved in the unconditional defence of the human’s rights agenda, and this is for this specific reason that her election was so symbolic, important and even revolutionary. And that is why she has been cowardly assassinated. Not all women in politics are involved with the Human’s Rights agenda, and for some of them, it is rather the opposite.”
Dying for the planet
Berta Cáceres, Honduran environmental activist, Lenca indigenous leader, human rights defender, and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, once won the Goldman Environmental Prize (the equivalent of a Nobel for environmental defense), for “a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam” at the Río Gualcarque.
In 2016, she was assassinated in her home by armed intruders, after years of threats against her life. There is still to this day an obvious, concerted and evidenced effort to control, neutralize and eliminate any opposition from environmentalists and human’s rights defenders.
Why should you pay attention?
Berta’s work as well as hundred of other environmentalists is about consent, survival and the rule of law.
International treaties compel their signatories to allow free, prior, and informed consent by indigenous peoples before development take place in their territories.
In many places, people have no way to challenge individuals or companies seeking to control water, minerals, forests, and lands. Quiescence and compliance are key for profit seeking mining and exploiting companies to grow.
Imagine for a minute not having any say in the access and sustainability of commodities upon which your life depend?
Imagine that for this reason, profit-seeking businesses can make or break peace?
Cities like Sao Paulo, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Djakarta, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, Tokyo, Miami, and London are the 11 cities more likely to run out of drinking water. That, added to pollution and lack of planning infrastructures, can be a major risk to peace.
Think for a minute that London is expected to require an extra 200 million litres per day of potable water by 2025. [London First]. This water will need to come among others from savings or reuse. As there will be more and more severe droughts, water restrictions lasting nine months or more, may be required. Recent calculations showed that a six-month drought order could cost businesses between up to £1.7 billion.
Civil unrest also can occur. This means that water security needs to become a top priority if we want to keep peace and sustainable living in London, like in other large cities. Not something you suspected would take place before long, is it?
Yes, Berta’s legacy is right in your kitchen tap.
Watch this interactive map of Global Killings of Land and Environmental Defenders 2002-2014 (actualised in 2016) .
To learn more about Berta Cáceres’ extraordinary work, Watch the video below from AWID.
or look at her profile as a Goldman Environmental Prize winner.
Women in the public eye, especially politicians, are constantly submitted to hideous comments about their looks, to threats of death, rape, or the rape of their children.
Even within her short life dedicated to British child poverty, overseas aid and development, and then to politics, Member of UK Parliament Jo Cox managed to make a strong impression. She died at the hand of a man connected to neo-nazi groups, shot and stabbed outside a library in West Yorkshire, UK, where she was about to hold her surgery. Interviewed by the Huffington post about which one thing she would change about UK politics if she could. “A more consensus style of politics looking at problems and getting the best brains involved in them to find solutions,” she said.
“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than that which divides us.“ Jo Cox
Consensus as a peace-building tool is not about compromising and losing ground, it’s a construction principle.
“I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that governance should be ‘power-over’ and abusive rather than 'power with’ and collaborative.” Louise Van Rhyn, CEO Partners for Possibility in South Africa.
Partners for Possibility are connecting good school leadership and educational outcomes. Education outcomes are critically low in South Africa. Most school principals in South Africa have not been equipped with the skills & knowledge for their critically important leadership role. So Partners for Possibility’s daily practice is about building collective leadership capacity. They provide principals of under resourced schools with a business leader and a development plan alongside tailored support, which address the school’s specific challenges. In a co-productive and collaborative way.
“We have discovered that this is the essence of work. We have discovered how to make cross-sector collaboration work because we have figured out how to move from patriarchy to partnership. I have seen this in action in 741 schools.” says van Rhyn.
Following biomimetic principles, Partners for Possibility don’t source expensive experts to overturn school’s performance, but rather source brilliance from a wide pool of well trained local business people and the magic happens when these worlds collide and create a collaborative recipe of care and compassion.
CEO Louise van Rhyn explains what it takes in practice to move from patriarchy to partnership:
“Partners for Possibility deliberately enables and supports a non-hierarchical process by providing principals with a “Thinking Partner” who:
- Cares deeply. “We think this is the “magic sauce” of Partners for Possibility”, says Louise van Rhyn
- Is in their corner and committed to creating a “safe space” for them.
“These business leaders join PfP and partner with a principal because they want to, and they show up at training courses and community of practice sessions because they don’t want to let their partner down.”
“Traditional aid into Africa has never had an impact because it has been patriarchal & 'Power over’. The only way we will see development work in Africa is when we can work 'with’ other and realise that we all have something to contribute.”
When executives go “on a visit to a poor country to do good work”, there is sometimes a lot of “grinning and bearing” that happens:
For example: “Recipients” bite their tongues when they experience visitors as condescending, particularly when they know the visit will be short-lived. On the other hand, “Visitors” who are on company-sponsored development programmes, where they have an opportunity to shine, can sometimes focus as much on themselves as on the beneficiaries of their input.”
The measure of success is respect, empathy, the right to “divorce” from the process when things don’t go to plan, however through a series of authentic and brave conversations.
Partners for Possibility’s coaches are here to help participants reflect upon the learning acquired. Every single time.
To me, this “Power With” trajectory, as opposed to Power Over, is a robust peace building process that leverages talent and opportunities. It requires discipline and authenticity.
4- Participants not beneficiaries
Born in Argentina, Latin America, Cecilia Milesi is a professional and activist whose work is inspired by the vision of co-creating an equal and just world in which all human beings live in dignity and freedom.
Cecilia considers that this transformation will only happen if the Global South countries and their people play a leading transformational role in local-global politics and if societies are respectful of human rights and citizens’ participation.
Cecilia is now Senior Adviser South-South Cooperation on Peace and Development at the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.
Cecilia makes a point to talk about participants in programmes she works on. She finds it odd and misplaced to use words such as “beneficiaries” or “clients”. It comes from her dialogue-focused approach and whilst bringing her professional tools about and ensuring that the space is open and safe enough for all to participate, when she supports programmes she insists on respecting the collaborative design approach.
What do you make of these approaches?
I haven’t got any solution to prevent murders, in fact evidence shows that keeping your head high and your voice loud will get you killed especially if you are woman. The techniques, values and principles Marielle, Jo, and Berta campaigned for, and that Louise or Cecilia still use today, can be implemented and pushed forward at all time.
Intersectionality in your thoughts and behaviour, as well as respectful and non-condescending participatory decision-making being two of them.Read more
At Ogunte, since
2001, we have chosen to explore leadership with a gender lens and specifically
with and by women who focus on changing people’s world, their social and environmental
contexts. It’s a fascinating topic, and we hope to be a loyal and faithful
platform for women who are growing and leading change this way. We are learning
every day with you all and we share this learning through our networks.
As part of our summer online learning sessions, we invited network members to share thoughts and questions around leadership. Watch the video here.
Read the transcript:
I recently read an article about Resilient leadership in educational context. It was all about leading with open eyes.
“When things are going well, change is
the last thing some school leaders want to do, so they skimp on learning. When
things aren’t going well, some leaders make the dangerous mistake of believing
they can’t afford to invest in professional development. Whenever top leaders
quit learning, it usually means one thing: They believe they know everything
they need to know. Organizations, however, are in a constant state of change.
Responding to change always requires learning.” I propose you to
adopt learning as a key and pivotal element of leadership.
I would shy away of talking of Influence without authority, but would rather use Leading beyond authority.Define authority, do you mean power, do you mean you have a leadership role but no positional power? There’s always something within you can lead from or with.
Let’s look at the power you have within.
You have a parallel between
this question and the following:
Let me give two examples of
social innovators in the US and Nigeria.
Sustainable designs and
renewable technologies are central to CDS’s mission of social transformation,
as they strive to bring dignity, privacy, and opportunities to many living in
poverty. Affordable housing
is not a topic that many people necessarily want to get involved in, because it
is a huge problem that even governments have a hard time tackling.
“To be commercially viable, sustainable housing construction requires land, finance, labour, technical know-how, and scale. It thrives in an enabling environment where there is government cooperation, suitable policy, and good infrastructure. All of these are in scarce supply in the regions that need the housing the most, so making the stars align is a constant uphill struggle! Housing provision requires great capital expenditure for construction and mortgage finance. We are constantly battling to find the kind of patient capital that will allow the marginalized and under-served the opportunity for home ownership”.
Miller co-founded Bitty Foods and is committed to
spreading the word about edible insects – crickets in particular. Crickets are
an eco-friendly, high-protein source of nutrition and could well be part of the
solution to securing global food security for the future. In some cultures eating insects is a done deal, and in
others, people are shivering just thinking about it! Megan thoroughly researched the topic,
and started socialising the idea with her friends,
asking: ‘What if we all started eating insects, and we saved the world?!’
To the extent that they sort of peer-pressured her into actually trying it.
They said, ‘You know, you’re gonna have to put your money where your mouth is and
start cooking edible insects.’ So she did.
With a combination of well
timed public speaking, publication of research, and the finding of startup
farms producing crickets, they quickly found their supply chain, but very soon
they had to find more crickets.
Chinwe and Megan both have an evidenced based solution, and a market that is not
necessarily willing to switch, change, nor adapt instantly. They have to be clear
about what they are bringing about, articulate it in a simple way, but at the
same time, they have to identify what their potential customers are ready to
hear, to absorb. And in this fine overlap, they will grow their authority and
start to lead. In this fine overlap, they have to forge alliances, people who
communicate the same message and also who are ready to build the infrastructure
that will support this innovation. It is a very fine overlap, yet a hopeful
There is no golden tip. However there’s something that seems to be recurrent among The Impact Women we spoke to… They reported the importance of nurturing a shared vision in their leadership. They stressed that the venture was not about them, but about the shared journey of everyone involved: staff, volunteers, investors, beneficiaries, families, communities. No one is left out and that is powerful.
need to put representatives of these communities in the room and get their
creative juices working together. It could be for a service, a product you plan
to come out, a piece of research, an inquiry about their needs, their
prospects, their worries…
used to lead from the front more, but now I have learned to walk alongside
my team and learn from them, as well as teach them everything I know.It is
key to develop the vision along with the people you are leading, so that it’s a
shared vision. I learned very early that telling
people what to do doesn’t work.’
tend to get very focused on the tactics (the ‘what’) and the ‘why’ gets lost
along the way. You need to revive this and go back to it. Read
our article: “How
Impact Women imprint purpose and values on their business”
Another good aspect to think about, comes from Kresse Wesling, co-founder of Elvis & Kresse, a luxury accessories brand
that rescues materials destined for landfill.Kresse
afraid there is no one size fits all answer to that question. The
essence is that, to lead a cross-cultural team, you might chose to impose your
view of the world, and the culture that will come out of this will be a
projection of your personality. However,
you might cut yourself short here. You need to be very curious and flexible as
people need and want to be led, and
b) which leadership trait but also which skill, behaviour, insights, networks, the members of your team themselves will be able to bring to the game, that will also be the most relevant for what you are trying to achieve.
requires your end vision to be clear to all.
article by Dr Tomas Chamorro Premuzic on Entrepreneurial leadership - “What
Leadership looks like in different cultures”- discover which type of leadership is most
prominent in certain countries, in the context of decision making,
communication style, even dark side tendencies.
traits you will need to develop as a leader are certainly your fluidity, your
flexibility at the same time as your consistency, how you keep purpose in sight
and how you manage to keep a systemic view of the world.
the richness of experience and storytelling. There’s nothing more enlightening
that people experimenting and trying out things for themselves, that stand out,
that are out of their routine. Nothing stronger than young people have the
space to express questions, articulate stories about their life. We need
young people to speak out more and to bring out more stories to the front, accept
them as great speakers, develop these interpersonal skills that are so useful
and required in the adult world. For negotiation purposes, to capture
attention, to raise concerns, to manage emotions, to lead!
This is interesting.
I guess we are not finished with leadership. What is left to do is you
brandishing your campaign and get on with it, get loyal followers, champions on
side, as well as people who will challenge you to do more and better.In an article I
shared a little while ago called “That
leadership conversation you haven’t had yet” I am sharing an exercise. It
is a sabotage exercise.
that you are working in the field of… and the current constraints around this
theme are predominantly (select practical examples) …, …, and … (and these
don’t seem to go away), what would you (you, your team, your family, society)
need to continue doing, or start doing more of, to make the situation even
Reflecting on what you would need to do to sabotage the situation really helps you to become more aware of the things that are creating problems…
on your way home today, leaving your leader’s hat and any other hat behind,
where do you suddenly spot the issue you are working on?
there as well:…
one reason why this is happening in that very location, or one reason why
something is not happening, just there.
if you engaged now in an impromptu conversation with … (stranger), as well as …
(someone in your neighborhood), also with … (an elected councilor), and … (an
executive/chair from another NGO, social business, or company) and invited them
to think about… ?
if you invited them to activate …[something]
How about you do that this week?
you get back to work, after this experience, get rid of the superfluous and
start focusing on the actions and the relationships you’ve identified, until you
get incremental yet evidenced results.
To have an example
of how someone did that in practice, read our
interview with Cecilia Milesi, peace builder, from Argentina.
She is talking about leading a
movement, as opposed to an organization.
As Kirstie asks the question, she
immediately adds: “I wouldn’t even know where to start with that one. Maybe the
point isn’t the answer it’s just to ask the question.” And I loved when Kirstie thought out
loud this way there. The question is complex, because, to start with there’s
not just one male side and one female side. Reality is much more complex than
that, thankfully. The
beauty is that we come in the most various shapes forms, abilities,
vulnerabilities, voices and heritages, and experiences.
The risk is we are not all equipped to embrace our complexity. Because we are expected to communicate through boxes, stereotypes, unevidenced common beliefs.
community, someone needs to go the extra mile to develop
empathy, care, and above all, make space. We can’t
steal someone else’s speaking space when they are perfectly capable of speak for themselves.
In this short introductory session on Leadership, I have highlighted
ImpactWomen that you should definitely connect to, and discover how they – and their
friends - have mastered the topic of leadership, each in their own way.
About Ogunte CIC
Ogunte CIC is an organisation that amplifies
and supports Women in Social Enterprises, in various places in the world. It is a networked based organisation, made of
trainers, consultants, coaches, business transformation practitioners, who truly
believe in social impact made by women. Outside the
one-to-one or group learning opportunities we provide for women in social
enterprises and their supporters, face-to-face and online, we also have a fluid
network you can join, by just pinning your social enterprise on a global map.
Go to map.ogunte.com
and click on “participate”.
Photo on <a href=“https://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a>Read more
by Servane Mouazan
We put up this post together as we have had several conversations about the rationale behind funding and how to “recruit” supporters for your social business.
Do you really want a
funder that is looking for safe bets, and polished, problem- free
companies? You might have a decent track record, but you also have
issues to fix and learning to do. Most of the time, when a venture philanthropy organisation says “We will not back you”, it really
means no, and it’s because there’s a legal or strategic reason. But when they - maybe - want to back you, they might ask a few things from you before signing off the deal.
When you select your future financial supporters, think of the following:
1. It’s important you understand the perspective of the donor/investor you have selected. Do the due diligence on the donors. Are they clear about why they are backing certain organisations above others? How easy are they to work with? Look at the skills of the board and also the portfolio of ventures they have backed to date, they constitute the knowledge capital that will come on top of the funding. They give away the values that underpin the organisation. Look in the organisations that the funder backs, ask yourself what was the growing pain that needed to be dealt with.
2. You want a funding organisation that will help you move forward and take you out of the “awkward stage”. So don’t be afraid to show weaknesses and your failures in the past and talk about how you have learned from them. If you don’t, your pitch will sound unrealistic. The backers need to know how they can help you.
3. Put together a flexible due diligence pack- a simple file folder with the basic key information - the material the management works with to manage the business.
The clearer you are about your own business and your data, before you approach funders, the better the relationship will start.
Be ready to have the
pack relevant to the type of funders you are going for. It’s about where
you are at now, make sure to remove any outdated information!
4. Don’t try to fit funding agendas at the cost of your mission and real social impact!
5. Keep practicing – there is a conversion process between the charity world to the venture capitalist’s world.
6. Yes paperwork and data are important, but it’s not all about ticking boxes. Professional investors also have instinctive skills they use when judging your proposal. They are also interested in people who have the right attitude and a clear story to tell.
7. You can’t escape it, you have to know your numbers.
If you can’t talk about that number on the spreadsheet, rest assured it is
the detail the board will ask you about! When you pitch, stay clear and
succinct, make sure the board can feel authenticity, direction, and
8. Choose your professional volunteers carefully, as it can sometimes turn into a nightmare. Some venture philanthropists do spend a lot of time in the matching of volunteers with social businesses. A healthy support organisation will have board members who are very hands on and get involved as executive investment committee members, using their broad skillset. Candidates go through their sniff test, based on years on experience of seeing companies fail or succeed. They are engaged by taking a partner role, like a mentor, and also tap in their network to bring in additional people.
So, yes indeed, impact investors too should be able to deal with growing pains and hurdles…
Check the other posts on this ImpactWomen blog to grow your skills around fundraising, governance, operations, etc. Let us know how you are progressing!