Local resource mobilization – comparing notes

The 5th International Workshop on Resource Mobilization (IWRM) in March brought together 271 practitioners from a record 48 countries to look at global trends in this field. Local resource mobilization is clearly happening, and it seems that strategies that work in one part of the world can almost always be implemented elsewhere, with a little creative adaptation to suit the local environment.

Organized by Resource Alliance, the IWRM provided cutting-edge training in resource mobilization as well as a Policy Day, which focused on the wider environment and issues affecting the non-profit sector.

Global trends that were highlighted included global citizenship, the growing involvement of stakeholders (both beneficiaries and donors) in non-profit work, and the evolving focus of corporate social investment, from straight donations to adding a socially beneficial value to the way companies do business. An emerging issue of concern highlighted by Kumi Naidoo, CEO of CIVICUS, was the growing impact of the war on terrorism on the ability of donors to fund civil society programmes without government interference.

Much emphasis was placed on the need to develop better leadership and more professional management systems within non-profits to aid successful resource mobilization, particularly for local initiatives. Board involvement in resource mobilization, programmes with a clear and measurable impact, strong credibility and verifiable financial accountability were also stressed, as was the growing need for entrepreneurial thinking.

Conferences are a regular feature of the non-profit landscape but they come at considerable cost and so need to be worth the investment. Feedback from delegates on the IWRM was positive. ‘Once in a while a meeting happens that adds significant value to one’s thinking. This was one,’ said Amin Gwaderi (Shelter Forum, Kenya). ‘I have been advocating local resource mobilization for a long time, and not always got a positive response from others.’ Lynne Thackery (NICRO, South Africa) concurred: ‘Much as I love the field I work in, one needs to be “re-enthused” from time to time. The 5th IWRM did that for me.’

Sharing ideas and talking with people from other countries and regions makes you feel part of the bigger picture. For me personally, these three days have enhanced my global perspective and made me eager to test some resource mobilization ideas here in South Africa that have worked in other parts of the world.

Sheelagh Antrobus works with Maverick Social Entrepreneurs, South Africa. She can be contacted at sheelagh@netactive.co.za

5th International Workshop on Resource Mobilization
Dates 26-28 March
Organizer Resource Alliance
Venue Johannesburg, South Africa

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