The fundraising methods evaluated are those that WISE might have the ability to implement in the short-to-medium term. There are many other methods that might become feasible as the organisation evolves, and future fundraising strategies should be updated to reflect that fact.
Charging fees for training is one type of fee-for-service model that can help generate income while fulfilling WISE’s core mission. In Cambodia, WASH Skills Development Organization (WASHSDO) and Center for Sustainable Water provide training but it is unclear how much fees are generated from these workshops. But as CAWST’s 2017 and 2016 financial statement shows that training courses made up about 1% of total revenue (donations comprised about 80%), suggesting that training fees may not be a realistic source of significant revenue.
WISE has experimented with several types of fee-for-service approaches. Mandatory fees through WISE’s Designing for Behaviour Change workshops in Singapore have generated US$280, US$270, US$130 and US$340 respectively (total US$1020) through four workshops, while requested fees and voluntary donations approaches have yet to generate any income (although these were not implemented aggressively).
In Singapore, WISE received requests to conduct a number of training workshops in 2019. Opportunities were generated from previous participants of our Designing for Behaviour Change Workshops as well as through personal connections. This indicates potential demand.
Training workshops commissioned
Training fees are a source of unrestricted funds. Even if training is not profit-making on its own, grants and venue sponsorships are available to cover the costs. Having a qualified trainer enables WISE to develop high-quality training and priority should be given to maintaining this position. Once a workshop is developed and a team of organisers/facilitators built, it is relatively easy and affordable to scale as well as to replicate in different countries.
Conducting training also helps WISE to expand the organisation’s network and gain credibility. WISE has had participants link our organisation up to new training opportunities, and these are opportunities we have yet to tap into. WISE can differentiate ourselves by emphasising our awareness of social justice issues combined with practical experience to carve a niche in the otherwise crowded market, and leverage existing networks in Singapore to publicise the training.
SWOT analysis for training
Contributes to mission; Unrestricted; Opportunity to expand network, gain credibility; Easily scalable and replicable to different countries
Social justice perspective, with practical experience; One curriculum developer, two trainers; Connected to influencers in Singapore
Grants available; Free venues available; Interest in Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore
Resource-intensive; Risk to credibility if workshop is not well-received
Small team; Lack credibility, not accredited; Limited networks, esp. outside Singapore, and visibility
Existing market in Singapore might saturate; Individuals and organisations unwilling or unable to pay
The initial investment to develop training is high, and WISE only has a small team able to do curriculum development. Furthermore, individuals and organisations are unwilling or unable to pay for training, making it difficult to generate profits without significant financial support. In addition, WISE does not have qualified team members outside Singapore, and limited connections in Indonesia and Cambodia. This will make it challenging to expand training beyond Singapore, which may be necessary if WISE’s market in Singapore saturates. WISE’s lack of accreditation also reduces our potential market.
WISE will continue to conduct training under the organisation’s capacity building program. It would be logical to leverage what we can to generate income from training, but the possibility of training becoming a plausible income stream is unclear, as there are unanswered questions regarding what the best business model in Singapore is, and whether there is a market in Indonesia and Cambodia.
Therefore, the goal is to first determine whether there is a feasible business model for training in Singapore, and if so, explore the feasibility of expanding to Indonesia and Cambodia. This will be achieved by:
- Customising workshops for NGOs (ACRES, GUI, IlluminateSG, Plan International Cambodia) and seeing whether they can be turned into long-term partnerships
- Testing scalability using the Designing for Behaviour Change workshops, including the fee structure and building of a facilitation team
- Better understanding training needs among NGOs in Singapore
There are many ways to solicit donations from individuals outside of crowdfunding, from online giving to asking for donations during events. Yandow (2015) found that the average small nonprofit raises 36% of its annual overall income from individual donors while FundsforNGOs found in 2018 that individuals were rated as the most effective channel for fundraising. Of course, the contexts in the aforementioned studies may differ from WISE’s, but NVPC’s Individual Giving Survey 2016 found that 76% of people in Singapore donated in 2016. Unfortunately, the rate has been steadily decreasing.
Charities may organise events like fundraising dinners and charity runs, like Dig Deep which organises charity hikes, amazing races and runs around the UK. Some charities are leveraging technology to engage the public in more innovative ways, such as charity : water who organised live Instameets with their followers during World Water Day, also publicising this initiative on Facebook to drive supporters to their Instagram page. They made use of the hashtag #748million to “remind others about the number of people who currently lack access to clean water around the world”.
Individual donation rate in Singapore (NVPC 2017)
WISE has yet to actively pursue individual donations outside of crowdfunding. Despite that, WISE already has four supporters (one volunteer; three friends of WISE team members) making monthly donations to the bank account in Singapore.
Individual donations are a source of unrestricted funds and can be effective because of the many ways through which to ‘ask’ an individual to donate: face-to-face (direct solicitation, through fundraisers, during events, canvassing, collections), phone call, personal email, newsletter, and social media. WISE has some track record, success stories and projects to leverage for asks, and the organisation has yet to tap on our existing donor database as well as team members to ask for regular (or one-off) donations.
SWOT analysis for training
Unrestricted; Many avenues to solicit donations, including opportunities to gain visibility
Some track record, projects and stories to leverage; Donor database
Untapped network of team members; Free/cheap venue in Singapore
Resource-intensive to solicit donations, especially to organise events, and maintain donor engagement
No team, no plan; Limited credibility, visibility, networks and marketing; Difficult to donate, no organisation bank accounts Cambodia
It can be resource-intensive to solicit donors directly - this is more effective than social media, although social media reaches a wider audience - as well as to maintain engagement with donors so that they continue supporting the organisation. Part of the reason why WISE has not focused on individual donations is our lack of fundraising team members.
WISE’s lack of credibility - being a young organisation with relatively few success stories and not yet registered as a charity - may limit the organisation’s ability to obtain donations from a wider audience. We also do not yet have organisation bank accounts in Indonesia and Cambodia. The lack of a giving culture, especially in Cambodia, may make it more difficult to get donors.
Individual donations are an untapped potential for WISE, and there are many ways the organisation can go in order to solicit individual donors. Therefore, the short-term goal is to pursue and optimise the low hanging fruit while developing, step-by-step, a more sophisticated individual donation strategy. Action steps include:
- Asking team members and previous supporters to give and/or fundraise (e.g. during their birthday). Produce a guide for how team members can support WISE’s efforts.
- Encouraging monthly/regular donations in asks.
- Making it as easy as possible for supporters to donate, including redesigning the donation webpage, creating bank accounts, including donation methods, etc.
- Leveraging Giving.sg to ensure that there is a minimum of one active fundraising campaign at all times
- Making asks more effective e.g. improving the text, making the visuals more engaging, etc.
Top Nonprofits has a list of best practices that WISE can apply. Other examples WISE can refer to include ACRES and charity : water. WISE will start from Singapore before expanding to Indonesia and Cambodia.
In the medium to long term, WISE can consider:
- Organising large-scale fundraisers, especially during global WASH-related days like World Water Day and World Toilet Day. These may take the form of live online events (these need to be properly planned in order to attract and sustain viewer interest), talks or panel discussions, documentary screenings, or auction sale of second-hand items.
- Applying for Google Ad Grants, and launching banner ad campaigns to raise awareness and solicit donations. This will require optimisation of the website to meet Google requirements for page load times and user experience, as well as the development of an effective ad campaign.
- Encouraging supporters to organise small-scale fundraisers based on their personal interests, such as nature walks or bake sales (WISE will have to consider how to curate and supervise such events).
Businesses, Associations and Societies may donate to further a non-profit organisation’s mission, typically in return for recognition of the business’s support. According to our research, most prominent charity organisations have a corporate sponsorship element, though they depend on it to different degrees. For instance, corporate sponsorships make up 46% (12.9m) of Water.org’s funding but only 8.7% (63.5k) for World Toilet Organisation.
According to fundsforNGOs, corporate social responsibility is steadily increasing its share of the fundraising pie. However, the number of charities competing for this pool of fund is growing as well.
WISE has yet to pursue corporate sponsorships. Before doing so, we will need to know what kind of sponsorships are we looking for (unrestricted funds, funding for projects), and find out the value propositions we have to offer for potential sponsors (what would success look like for the company?). According to The Guardian, some factors companies consider when entering a charity partnership include whether there are shared values with the charity, opportunities for staff engagement (e.g. volunteering), benefits for brand image, whether there is a giving culture within the company and the credibility of the charity.
Coincidentally, WISE had been approached by a family business exploring giving back programs, but the opportunity did not pan out.
Corporate sponsorships can be a significant source of unrestricted funding. When the relationship is maintained well, some sponsors may end up working with WISE long-term. Compared to previous years, WISE has more projects and stories to showcase and we can tap on our team’s connections in different countries to approach corporates. WISE could start with companies in Indonesia, which was the first country to make corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting mandatory by law for energy and extractive industries. Moreover, with increasing economic interest in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, companies may be looking to build goodwill in this region.
SWOT analysis for training
High payout; potential for long-term relationship
Connections in many countries; Projects and stories to leverage
CSR regulations in Indonesia; Companies are taking an interest in Southeast Asia
Likely mismatch of values; Resources required to pitch corporates then maintain relationship
Not registered as a charity; Limited track record and brand visibility; Lack of experience and team
WISE must ensure that the companies we partner share our values - this may limit the pool of companies the organisation is able to approach. In addition, many companies prefer to support charities (and in Singapore, Institutions of Public Character [IPC]) with a greater track record and brand visibility.
WISE will build a corporate sponsorship profile, starting by drafting a corporate sponsorship proposal (see example from ACRES) and pitch deck. Once this material is ready, WISE can start to reach out to connections through our team members. We can also use events (e.g. exhibitions and talks) to meet potential sponsors. Adding a CSR section to our website with a version of the pitch materials will also help surface WISE as a viable CSR partner through search engine optimisation.
Charging fees for conducting outreach and educational activities, similar to workshops, can help generate income while contributing to WISE’s mission. FLUSH, whom WISE partners, has conducted classes in New York on the ‘The History of Toilets’, ‘Introduction to Infectious Disease and the Role of Toilets’, and more. Loo Tours organises lavatory-themed walking tours around London.
WISE had not seriously considered outreach activities as a fundraising strategy. We had spoken at one paid talk in March 2018 organised by Soristic. Turnout was not high and the organisation only earned S$30 (US$22) of proceeds from the talk. However, with WISE signing a memorandum of understanding with FLUSH to collaborate on outreach and educational activities, this is an opportunity leverage FLUSH’s expertise to expand our work in this area.
Charging ticket fees helps to generate income while contributing to WISE’s mission, which enables the organisation to also expand our network and gain credibility. We can leverage on our WASH expertise to create interesting activities, while tapping on grants and free venues to cover the cost of running these activities.
SWOT analysis for outreach activities
Unrestricted; Opportunity to expand network and gain credibility
Potential grants; Free venues available
Diverts from core mission; Can be resource-intensive, especially to develop the activities
Limited team; Limited networks and visibility
Might not have a market in Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore
Outreach is not part of WISE’s core programs of community development, capacity building and behaviour change, and organising such activities can divert limited resources away from other projects. (Alternatively, the core team could consider making outreach a core program.) It is also unclear whether there is sufficient public interest in these activities to generate significant income.
WISE is already working with FLUSH to develop a ‘History of Toilets’ class, therefore we can use this as a test case to determine whether outreach activities have potential. After conducting this class, WISE will re-evaluate whether outreach activities are a feasible fundraising method.
Sale of second-hand merchandise
Selling merchandise is an age-old method of fundraising. In Singapore, it is common to sell second-hand items (see MINDS Shop [US$43,500 of 0.93% of total income in 2017, New2U Thrift Shop [US$188,500 or 18.96% of total income in 2017], Singapore Red Cross [US$192,000 or 5.65% of total income in 2017], and Salvation Army) - it is also common overseas (see Oxfam local shops). Technology has also made it easier to sell merchandise online - international WASH organisations who do it include Blood : Water (in 2017, they raised US$6,245 or 0.28% of net revenue from the sale of merchandise) and charity : water (merchandise also form an insignificant percentage of their revenue).
In 2016, Yoke Pean ran a garage sale at her family’s house and raised US$1,200. This led to intentions to sell second-hand items online to raise funds but the idea faded away due to the lack of manpower. WISE’s position on original merchandise is that it contributes to consumerism and might send the wrong message about WISE’s values. Therefore here we are only considering the sale of second-hand items.
According to UK Fundraising, charities typically sell merchandise to fundraise and raise awareness. Thus, selling merchandise can help to expand WISE’s limited visibility. These merchandise can also be included in events to earn extra donations.
SWOT analysis for selling second-hand merchandise
Unrestricted; Opportunity to expand network and visibility; Does not require specialised skills
Existing online presence
Consumer-to-consumer marketplaces such as Carousell and Facebook
Resource-intensive to start up and run; Requires space
Limited team; Limited visibility
Saturated market in Singapore; Dispersed market in Indonesia and Cambodia
WISE does not currently have the bandwidth to build and sustain a stock of second-hand merchandise to sell.
With sale of second-hand items unlikely to bring it much funds, and other fundraising methods that have more potential, WISE is not in a position to pursue this right now.
Sale of original merchandise
Another method of fundraising that was observed was the sale of merchandise by other organisations. Typically, this is done through organisations setting up an online store in their website, selling simple merchandises such as books (that they have written), t-shirts, water bottles and mugs. To start a merchandise campaign, some of the key steps WISE would need to execute include: decide on a design, source for suppliers, allocate a space for storage, set up an online store and arrange for delivery.
WASH organisations that sell merchandise includes Blood : Water, who owns an online store that sells a series trendy t-shirts featuring their organisation logo, as well as their own book and cups. In 2017, they made $6,245 from the sale of merchandise, which is a small percentage compared to their net revenue of $2,172,980 the same year. In terms of following, Blood : Water currently has 24,338 likes on Facebook.
Another organisation that offers a wider variety of merchandise would be Charity : Water, who’s online store contains items like phone accessories, temporary tattoos and even bicycles. While the amount made from their online store is not disclosed, it is estimated to be within the $47,059 of their “Other Income”, in their 2017 Financial Report. This is juxtaposed the $51,376,633 they raised in the same year.
This may suggest that even for large organisations, the sale of merchandise may not be a lucrative or sustainable source of funding, but it could done more for branding purposes.
According to UK Fundraising, charity organisations typically sell merchandises for two reasons: to fundraise and to raise awareness. Apart from the potential to make revenue from such a venture, the exposure that these merchandises can provide will also align with WISE’s current need to increase our visibility. However, we need to be cautiously optimistic about this possibility, as the merchandise may not take-off the way we expect it to be.
In addition to that, having our own merchandise can also synergise with our current crowdfunding and workshop efforts, as these merchandises can be sold in our own events.
In terms of our ability to execute, we currently have a full-time designer in our team, which could help us to design our merchandise. Our active presence on Facebook, Instagram and our website is also an advantage, as we currently have 1,059 following in Facebook that we can reach out to.
SWOT analysis for sales of original merchandise
Merchandise with our logo on in helps to provide visibility
We have a full-time designer; We have an active online presence to share about our merchandise
Merchandise can be sold in workshops or crowdfunding events.
Starting a merchandise require time and capital, and it may diverge valuable resources from other focuses
Do not have an online payment portal; Do not have excess manpower; Website lacks visibility
Merchandise may not represent our brand; Merchandise may not sell well
There is an inherent risk involved in starting a merchandise venture. At worst, we could spend significant time and monetary resources on this venture, and the merchandise do not become well-received by our supporters, which may cause us to incur a loss. Such a venture will also diverge manpower resource from other activities, which is a factor we should consider seriously.
Apart from that, executing this project will also require some improvements to our websites, such as building in a payment system to allow for the online store to operate, as well as performing search engine optimization to increase the visibility of our website. However, this may not be a bad thing, as having an online payment system and greater website visibility is generally beneficial for WISE.
Weighing the pros and cons of a merchandise venture, and considering the current priorities of WISE, it is likely better-off for WISE to not start a merchandise venture at this point, due to the following considerations. Firstly, WISE is expected to receive its charity and foundation status in Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia respectively, which will open up new opportunities for the firm to raise funds through crowdfunding websites or to even reach out to corporate sponsorships. To start a merchandise venture at this point of time may put extra burden on the firm and prevent it from pursuing the proper follow-up actions after these statuses have been attained. Secondly, WISE currently has a limited following in its social media, which is an important factor that Youtubers consider when deciding went to launch their own merchandises. Thus, it is beneficial for WISE to focus on other areas of development, and build up its own social media following first, to reduce the risks of launching its merchandises. In general, developing merchandises is a good way to strengthen WISE’s branding, and improve its overall visibility. Thus, taking these benefits into account will help WISE decide when is a good time to start such a venture in the future.
Potential future income streams
As WISE grows in credibility and visibility, fundraising methods such as donations from high net worth individuals and legacy giving can become more feasible. Another business idea is since team members will need an office to work, it might be worth taking an opportunity to invest in a co-working space or subletting office space. WISE will regularly revisit the fundraising strategy to determine which fundraising methods are more or less feasible.