Philanthropy in SA is looking healthy!

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Our financial manager Dezre recently went to the CMDS Building and Protecting Reserves for Financial Sustainability workshop at the Clock Tower Precinct at the V&A Waterfront. She fills us in on what went down at the workshop, offering important funding tips for South African start-ups, and gives us a wholehearted endorsement of CMDS’ work.

This is it. This is the closest I’ve come to feeling like a celebrity. It all happened not too long ago, and it made me feel super-proud. As the Financial Manager at Paperight, my role is generally supportive and behind the scenes. I’m like the dark unseen matter in our solar system while my colleagues, the true stars of Paperight, liaise and assist media, publishers, outlets, funders, etc.

Now I had the pleasure and the privilege of networking while attending the CMDS Building and Protecting Reserves for Financial Sustainability Workshop. Natural enthusiasm obviously goes a long way, because when I introduced our company and what we do, people responded with a genuine interest and appreciation for our vision. I found that warm fuzzy feeling again that makes fund-raising in your business feel like an event that you believe no-one should miss out on and financial statements the memorable photos that reflect your experience and progression.

What I found most impressive is how much everyone was willing to contribute to a shared learning experience. We had opportunities to brainstorm and pool together our ideas and strategies for sustainability, fund-raising and generating diversified income. The collective needs of the different organisations who were represented were discussed, and relevant and practical advice was openly given by almost all who attended.

Scenarios were introduced and bounced around such as creating trusts to manage reserve funds. The pros and cons for making such a move, including the tax and management implications, were investigated. Our various business needs were analysed before we moved onto the next financial gem that could later become the highlighted feature of our balance sheet. We dug into various kinds of funding approaches including sustainability funds, generating unreserved income, forming collaborations and bringing third parties into the mix.

CMDS gave good pointers and recommendations for planning, financial management, governance and control. One of the key pieces of advice was that a strong awareness of your finances, how to manage your money, and not underestimating the importance of good disciplined leadership is essential to any successful organisation.

What I noticed is that NPOs, who approach for funding on multiple projects, need to track their income and expenses per project much like a company that specialises in conferences would. Pastel for NPOs was mentioned as one accounting program having the tracking ability for organisations that have multiple projects. One management style that was recommended, was to have the manager for a project keep track of all incomes and expenses for their project.

As my finance tip for the day: I would like to recommend that you have a system of noting on your original source documents a) what the amount is for and b) what project it relates to. This way your bookkeeper can marry the various incomes and expenses to the relevant financial categories (such as rent or stationary) as well as the relevant projects in your financial records. This will assist in making sure that you are not overspending on your projects and that your reporting for management is accurate.

Either I was grouped with the most conscientious of foundations, or else there is a genuine earnestness within South African organisations to have good governance and business ethics. Effective management, clear policies, alignment with organisation and done objectives were the aim of all who attended. The consensus and feedback given was that transparency, effective communication and strong relationships with their investors were essential.

In a nutshell, I found the workshop was great value for money, and I would like to attend the next one. I was also blessed to meet some truly interesting people, and equally inspirational causes. Philanthropy in South Africa is growing and its great to be a part of it.

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