The evaluation is very Singapore-focused and will need further input from the Indonesia and Cambodia teams.
Funds available as of 31 December to meet short-term objectives is approximately US$56,000. In order to run WISE in the current state, the organisation will require another US$14,000. Assuming all nine projects will be implemented this year, the remaining amount to be raised as soon as possible for the financial year 2019 is US$94,000. In addition, WISE aims to build sufficient reserves to cover one year of overheads. This is a significant amount of money and is unlikely to be raised through WISE’s existing fundraising methods, which are consulting services, grants and crowdfunding campaigns.
An analysis of similar organisations in Southeast Asia show that those who are not backed by a major foundation, grantor or the government, fundraise through donations. The comparison suggests that there is potential to tap into different sources of donations. However, it might not be useful to read too much into the comparisons because WISE operates on a different model and is much younger than the other organisations.
International development consulting is a vast sector comprising all types of assignments carried out by all types of consultants, from large international firms to individual independent consultants. As a Devex article stated, the project-based nature of development work and the frequent need for specific, short-term technical expertise make this sector ripe for a thriving consultant base.
Since 2016 (as of December 2019), WISE has earned approximately US$73,950 through consulting services in Indonesia and Singapore (Table 4). It was WISE’s main source of funding in our first two years of operation, before the organisation registered in Singapore and became eligible to apply for some grants and run crowdfunding campaigns.
The income earned from each assignment ranged between US$2,500 and US$18,000 (excluding one pro-bono project). Assignments from Indonesia required a large amount of effort to earn a relatively low income, even before considering that WISE was paying our associates below market rate for the assignments. Of the eleven projects listed, five were obtained through personal connections while the remaining six were obtained through submitting bids in response to a call for proposals. As of January 2019, WISE had submitted 46 unsuccessful bids. From 2018, WISE did not successfully bid for any consulting assignments. It is unclear whether this was due to a decreasing number of opportunities, an increasingly competitive market, WISE’s limited qualifications or a mismatch of qualifications. In 2019 and beyond, WISE did not actively bid for consulting assignments, partly because team members were preoccupied with our own projects, and with conducting training.
Consulting assignments carried out
Consulting fees are a valuable source of unrestricted funds and comes in large amounts compared to small donations from individuals. One client had feedback that WISE’s hands-on experience working with communities helps us stand out, and we should continue to leverage this advantage to stand out against private sector consulting firms and research institutions. Consulting assignments are also an opportunity to establish relationships with WASH stakeholders, which keep the organisation in touch with the latest trends in the sector, and could lead to further collaboration. By completing the assignment, WISE is able to expand our portfolio and gain credibility among potential supporters and clients. Team members also get to gain hands-on experience.
A recent meeting with ACRES (Singapore) suggests that there may be demand for consulting services among the nonprofit sector. The Deputy CEO was interested in WISE’s behaviour change workshops and ability to conduct research.
SWOT analysis for consulting services
Unrestricted; High payout; Opportunity to expand network, expand portfolio, gain credibility, improve expertise
Field experience; Professionalism
Demand for nonprofit consulting in Singapore?
Unpredictable; Takes time away from own projects; Stress due to client pressure; Risk to credibility if assignment fails
Limited experience, expertise and qualifications; Limited networks and visibility; Poor marketing; Hard to communicate because team members are in different areas (Indonesia)
Established consulting services with wider offerings
Unfortunately, consulting is an unpredictable income stream. WISE’s small team, limited experience and range of expertise limits the number of opportunities and size of projects that we are able to bid for. This likely makes us less competitive compared to other organisations, in addition to our less than professional-looking CVs.
Few WASH stakeholders know WISE, and stakeholders who know WISE are rarely aware that the organisation offers consulting services and the skills/expertise we offer. As a Devex article states, most consulting assignments are not advertised and many consultants are hired through inside networks, therefore it is important to expand our network and visibility. Improved marketing may help. The Practical Action Consulting webpage, for example, makes it clear that they focus on “the use of technology for poverty reduction”, that they have four areas of expertise and have six locations of work. The website also describes examples of projects they have done.
There is a significant opportunity cost to working on consulting assignments as well. Not only does consulting take time away from WISE’s own projects, which contributes towards building a case of support for donations and grants, working with clients can be stressful.
|Current state||Possible action steps||Desired state|
|Consulting is an unpredictable source of income, limited to small-value projects||Expand scope of opportunities that WISE has the expertise and capacity to apply for||WISE has a continuous stream of active and high-value consulting assignments bringing in revenue|
|Limited experience, expertise and qualifications||Experienced, dedicated team with a range of expertise and qualifications in Singapore, Jakarta and Phnom Penh|
|Limited networks and visibility||Well connected with clients and large consulting firms|
Clear value proposition
Funding bodies such as foundations and government agencies support non-profit organisations in pursuing their missions, either restricted to a specific program/purpose or unrestricted for general support. The reliance of nonprofit organisations on grants vary, from Clear Cambodia whose main source of funding is charity: water, to World Toilet Organization (WTO) where grants made up 6.7% of total revenue for 2017. Grants can be competitive, therefore it is important to be as prepared as possible when writing grants. GrantsUSA provides an organisational grants-readiness checklist.
WISE started because of a US$2,000 grant that Yoke Pean received through the 2015 ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program. Initially, as WISE was not registered as a legal entity, we applied for grants and competitions for GWASH which, as a social enterprise idea, was eligible for funding. When WISE was registered as a nonprofit company limited by guarantee in Singapore in 2017, the organisation started applying for grants from the National Youth Council. WISE continues to tap on individual connections to seek funding e.g. YSEALI’s Go NGO Professional Development Enhancement Grant and INSPIRASI’s fieldwork project (Table 4).
In contrast to consulting fees, grants represent a growing source of revenue for WISE. This trend has continued into 2021, tripling the amount just 3 years prior. However, many other non-profits are receiving fewer and fewer grants, with the WTO having no grants in 2019 and 2020. While it remains a large portion of the funding, an overreliance can prove to be dangerous in the long run.
Grants have a high payout compared to individual donations, although the relative effort required to submit grants and approach individuals to donate may be comparable. WISE has been able to tap on youth funding in Singapore and should continue to do so, while the increased attention on environment and waste management are opportunities the organisation could consider. For example, the National Environment Agency of Singapore has set aside US$1.5 million (S$2 million) for zero waste ground-up initiatives. Projects with some track record (Phnom Sanitation Project, Designing for Behaviour Change workshops and History of Toilets) and which are newly-funded (Story of the Land) also represent opportunities for WISE to leverage. WISE has already built a grants database which facilitates the identification and management of grants.
SWOT analysis for grants
Growing so far
Some track record, projects to leverage; Grants database; Grants management
Local government and NGO funding in Indonesia (but village fund is not implemented well); Development partners in Cambodia fund NGOs; Youth and environmental funding in Singapore
Typically short-term and restricted; Resource-intensive to write grant proposals and prepare documentation
Fluctuates in large capacity year by year
Not registered as a charity; Limited track record as a young organisation; No grant-writing team
Cambodia government prioritise grants to businesses
Grants are typically restricted to direct programmes costs and limited to up to a few years; Grants that are for general support or overheads tend to be harder to find and more competitive. It is also time-consuming to write proposals and submit reports, but the relative effort should decrease as the value of the grant increases. Not being registered as a charity in Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore, as well as being a young organisation, prevents WISE from accessing several grants. Furthermore, WISE’s limited track record reduces the organisation’s ability to compete with more established organisations for higher-value international grants. Not having a grant-writing team also prevents WISE from putting more effort into grant-writing.
WISE has yet to maximise the organisation’s potential to utilise grants, with our focus in the early years being on building an initial track record and branding that would attract funders. With projects that WISE can leverage to apply for grants (Annex 3) and with our registration in Indonesia, Singapore and Cambodia that opens new avenues for grants, the organisation will dedicate more time this year to writing grants. In the long term, WISE aims to have a dedicated grant-writing team (with at least one paid position) in order to maximise the amount the organisation is generating through grants.
|Current state||Possible action steps||Desired state|
|Small number of low-value grants from local funding bodies||Expand scope of grants that WISE is eligible for and increase capacity to apply for grants||Portfolio of active grants of ranging values and sources|
|Only eligible for a limited number of grants||Able to access to range of local and international grants|
|Limited networks and visibility||Dedicated team writing grants on a continuous basis|
Crowdfunding was first used by entrepreneurs to attract small-sized investments to for-profit ventures, primarily via the internet, and is projected to become a $90-96 billion dollar industry by 2025. It is also being touted as a valuable tool for fundraising for charitable nonprofits (Council of Nonprofits). WTO and Mercy Relief (MR) have crowdfunding pages on Give.Asia and Giving.sg respectively, with MR having raised US$17,000 from 97 donors from their ‘15th Year Anniversary Impact Fund’ campaign.
WISE has carried out several crowdfunding campaigns (not including the crowdfunding campaign for partner Mr Sros to start Community Training Organization for Development) since registering in Singapore, receiving a total of US$10,000 in 2020 and 2021, up from US$4,900 from 90 donations from 67 donors between 2017 and 2018. An additional US$7000 came from unrestricted donations.
Histogram of amounts contributed by each donor in frequency.
The vast majority of donations are small, skewed by an occasional large (and unexpected) donation. Donors are overwhelmingly team members and their friends, and they have mostly been from Singapore.
Crowdfunding campaigns are an accessible source of unrestricted funds. It is easy to set up a crowdfunding campaign that can then be used to reach a wide audience. The successful implementation of projects (Phnom Sanitation Project; Designing for Behaviour Change workshops; Story of the Land) and documentation of beneficiary stories (Phnom Village subsidy recipients) will help WISE create compelling campaign stories.
WISE’s access to crowdfunding platforms, which are generally only for charities, have been limited. But the organisation’s registration in Indonesia will provide access to crowdfunding platforms such as kitabisa.com as well as Give.Asia, and our registration in Singapore will provide access to Giving.sg for local causes. WISE has also yet to tap into the Global Giving Accelerator crowdfunding program. Since registering on SimplyGiving in both Singapore and Indonesia in 2020, WISE has collected 115 donations.
SWOT analysis for crowfunding campaigns
Easy to implement; Diversifies profile of supporters; Can be unrestricted
Projects and stories to leverage
Crowdfunding platforms in Singapore (SimplyGiving, Give.Asia; Giving.sg) and Indonesia (kitabisa.com) once registered; Crowdfunding accelerators
Resource-intensive to implement effectively (publicity and engaging supporters)
No crowdfunding team and lack of preparation; Not yet registered as a charity; Limited track record and brand visibility
A few crowdfunding startups in Cambodia, but not effective
While it is easy to create a crowdfunding page, it requires intense effort and preparation to effectively publicise the campaign and solicit donations. Previous campaigns likely suffered from the lack of a dedicated crowdfunding team and the lack of resources to prepare an effective campaign. Being a young organisation with limited track record and brand visibility, WISE is realistically only able to reach friends and friends of friends at present.
WISE has yet to maximise the organisation’s potential to utilise crowdfunding. Registering in Indonesia and Singapore will open up more platforms WISE can leverage to seek donations. To maximise crowdfunding potential, WISE will make a concerted effort to increase our reach on social media and develop a crowdfunding strategy so that crowdfunding campaigns can be implemented effectively and efficiently. In the long-term, WISE aims to have a dedicated crowdfunding team (with at least one part-time paid position) in order to maximise the amount the organisation is generating. Giving.sg has raised over $206M for 550 charities and is the leading fundraising platform in Singapore. WISE should aim to always have at least one active fundraising campaign on the platform at all times, even if generic and not aimed at a specific initiative.
|Current state||Possible action steps||Desired state|
|Campaign donations received mainly from friends||Increase brand visibility and credibility as well as increase preparation||Campaign donations received from friends to members of the public|
|Access to few platforms||Strategically leverage platforms for different purposes|
|Limited track record and brand visibility||Strong brand presence|
|No crowdfunding team, therefore lack of preparation||Dedicated crowdfunding team implementing campaigns|