Larry Philbrook: March 26, 2009
“Financial Safety Net of Nonprofit Organizations Is Fraying, Survey
Finds” by Stephanie Strom
I am wondering about other ICA's experience and response. In Taiwan the economy
is contracting which is affecting donations for non-profits.
Bill Staples: March 26, 2009
seen any news yet about the non-profit sector in Canada.
Donations will shrink for some causes because corporate donations
will go down. Donations will expand for other causes from the real urgency that people see as unemployment expands. For instance
food banks are having banner years from small individual donations. ICA Canada luckily has core funding of 5-10% of
ICA Associates Inc income, around 75,000, and an office to run from. The Board anticipated this type of situation when they
set the rules and ICA Associates Inc into existence in 1999. I wondered if this type of stability was what ICA Nepal was looking
for in its recent announcement to set up an (I assumed) for-profit ICA Associates in Nepal.
March 26, 2009
Yes ICA Taiwan is similar in that we fund it primarily from program. Although I have no idea how business
is going to continue, so far things are still percolating.
Martin Galbraith: March 26, 2009
have a new website here in the UK specially dedicated to supporting charities to survive the recession, with a wealth of information
as well on how charities here are being affected - see www.recessionsupport.org.uk <http://www.recessionsupport.org.uk>
. ICA:UK is fortunately not much reliant on donations, we have no assets to decline in value, and ironically our fee-for-service
business is booming as many fellow facilitators seem to be experiencing as well. We are making the best of it while we can,
because we can't expect it to last forever! However I sit on the Board of another youth service charity which is
now facing making its entire central team redundant because of a fall in grants and donations, particularly unrestricted -
perhaps a more common charity experience, if extreme.
Ken Hamje: March 26, 2009
Our situation in Peru is similar
to the UK as we largely operate with fee for services, and demand is heavy because of our effective track record. Donations
do not exist in Peru since the government cancelled all tax deductions since the mid 1990s, so the only way we can cover our
institutional overhead now is through fees received for the use of our training center, which is programmed for over 20 weeks
already this year. From what we know, most of the other NGOs here are funded by international sources, and it will probably
take another year before the impact is felt from those sources as grants run out. There is also a delay in the impact
on the resource tax funds, which will not begin to show a decline until the second half of 2009. But of course,
the chatter is all about budget reductions.....
Duncan Holmes: March 30, 2009
I talked, on Thursday,
with a person I trained who works with a well-known Foundation in Canada. They have cut staff by about 50% and are preparing
to pare back further. He has been given an option of a pa-out or work part time while he sets up some other work. My reading
of the news is that it is hitting the NGO community and they are quietly laying off staff as they are expecting it to get
worse. The other side is that Salvation Army raised more in donations this Christmas than before. So people are still donating.
Larry Philbrook: March 30, 2009
The data I have read tells me the same thing. I have seen several
articles that have said three things are happening in terms of funding:
1) Overall giving is down
2) What is coming
is focused on specific need/ relief efforts
3) Broader funding for systemic change is still going to be given but it
will be less and going to NGO's with a proven track record/relationship to donor
In terms of large donor foundations
they have lost a lot of their base funds because of the drop in the stock market so are cutting overhead dramatically.
They are having to decide how to do more with less. Government sponsored funding agencies are okay this year because
they have budgets allocated last year but next year is a big question some will get funding under the emergency funding systems
like the US stimulus but others will be reduced dramatically. No one is sure what will happen next year if the depression
continues into next years budget cycle. However another aspect in Taiwan some people who are losing their jobs are shifting
their vocation to non-profit service and community work.
Nino Tillman: March 20, 2009
First the bad news:
ICA-USA has lost 23% of the fund value of our endowment funds. The good news: We are completing our best (in terms of net
income) first quarter in over 8 years. With the second & third quarters lined up to be very good quarters as well. Barring
some unforeseen catastrophe, operationally ICA-USA will have the best year it has had in quite sometime. I plan on sending
in our results & tactics to ICA-I for inclusion in April to the Global Buzz.
Kan Hamje: April 2, 2009
have found this dialogue to be stimulating and it has challenged us in Peru to get clearer about what we are doing.
Thanks to you all.
I don't believe that Larry really thinks that income for ICA-Taiwan is going to be
down this year -- or next. I strongly doubt it, for I believe that you are constantly upgrading your services to your
clients and marketing the effectiveness of your work. Nino reports that USA is on the move again with 2010 already looking
strong, and Canada has worked hard for over 10 years to build a solid economic base. These are great examples of really
solid success stories -- and there are more to be told I'm sure.
So let's take the focus off of the media-driven
decline in funding sources, and look at what it takes to win with an NGO in the world today. I'll use Peru here
because that is where I'm grounded, but I truly believe that the same can be done by the ICA in any country around the
world, with some local adaptation.
In Peru we have launched two new programs this year, and by the end of April,
we will have passed last year's income. We already have commitments to double ICA income for this year, with still
a little space in our program calendar. We are currently starting three new program focuses for 2010 which will more
than double our market base again. And we have hardly scratched the surface of the potential for our work here, let
alone in adjacent countries. The potential can be overwhelming!
Isn't the same thing true for every ICA
if they can grasp the uniqueness of what we have to offer and match that up with the needs of their society? Sure there
are challenges of staff preparation and marketing skills (we have had those too!), but those are not dependent on the state
of donors, are they? The illustrations of other large NGOs laying off staff are examples of failed organizations, not
of the funding landscape. Such organizations are mostly channeling money from the rich to the poor, rather than creating their
own valuable service. Why would we want to emulate them? No ICA, with our unique resources of methods and culture,
should be subject to funding source issues in any major way.
I know that the truth in business is that well run
organizations grow stung in market conditions like these and go on to dominate their market places when the economy rebounds,
while the weak ones take a big setback or die out. Which type of company would you like to be? Those are choices
to be made by the leadership -- there truly are no victims in changing times like these.
Isn't that pretty
much true of NGOs too? If true, then that leads me to think that this is a time for sharing great creativity of how
to take advantage of these times to demonstrate the superior effectiveness of our ICA methods and long history of service.
That would be a great dialogue to launch. Let's emulate the strong ones -- and take advantage of this opportunity
To share what we have done in Peru, here are three policy changes that we have made over the past 18
months, and they are now the strong foundation of our work.
1. First, we decided to focus our work
in our residential training center and use it for the formation of fully-equipped community leaders. We built a strong,
very intensive 3-week curriculum which built self esteem, opened up dozens of new opportunities, and equipped people to actually
facilitate consensus-forming meetings on their return home. We knew we had won with this in our very first AVANZA PERU
(AP) program when the people went home "on fire" and we quickly got reports of actual changes happening in the communities.
The simple slide-show style DVD we made of these people became a major sales tool, and it only cost $150 to make it!
You can see it on our website www.ica-peru.org <http://www.ica-peru.org> .
2. We stopped marketing
ANY programs to individuals, and only market our programs to companies and organizations. We now market our 30-seat
3-week AP program to companies who are seeking to improve the communities of their workers, and to other NGOs who want to
improve the effectiveness of the work of their community projects. These sponsors have now asked for follow-up services
in the communities, so we now have an Implementation Program where an ICA team visits communities for a couple of days for
four months to catalyze the newly trained leaders to implement projects in their communities. This has been a huge success,
and now is becoming the selling point for securing the AP contract to begin with! It was only possible to do this Implementation
Program once we had stopped individual recruitment -- that was a very big learning for us. On the economic side, now
that our AP programs are always 100% filled, we are always making money on them, rather than struggling to "break even"
as we had been before. Now, this is how we pay our administrative overhead.
3. We decided to not expand
our professional staff and create a monthly overhead burden for ourselves, but rather to train a pool of program staff who
could be employed as needed for programs as they were funded. This has given our existing staff the confidence that
we will always be secure, and at the same time allowed us to rapidly expand our programs without the fear of a loss of income
in the future. It has also kept our administration costs and office space manageable, and yet brought the spark and
inspiration of new colleagues into our midst.
How does our little permanent staff of 8 feel about the future?
Very satisfied and highly motivated to expand our services and impact in Peru and beyond. We just did a plan out to
the year 2015 which really surprised us, for we know that we are just beginning this new journey, but we have a whole new
confidence in where we are headed now.
Jonathan Dudding: April 3, 2009
Thank you so much, Ken, for sharing
your story- I found it both encouraging and inspiring. Broadly I think what we are trying to do in ICA:UK reflects very similar
principles- emphasising our added value, being more focused both in terms of service, geography and target group, building
longer-term relationships with clients, working on growth of impact rather than growth of organisation (i.e. developing and
working with Associates and partners rather than thinking that staff members have to do everything). I think we have yet to
see all the results of this shift, and there is certainly more to be done, but we are more financially secure now than ever
I also agree with you that much of what we are talking about is really just good NGO management and good
leadership- characteristics that are needed regardless of the wider economic situation, even if the need for them becomes
more apparent when times are hard. Your statement "No ICA, with our unique resources of methods and culture, should be
subject to funding source issues in any major way" will challenge many in the ICA network, where many members (and indeed
ICAI) are struggling financially.
In our work with ICAs in Africa we have recognised this for some time and have
been working to come up with an approach within our capacity to address it. Our current efforts are focused on organising
a workshop in Zambia in May in order to develop a process which will focus on enabling organisations to develop their capacity
to mobilise resources more effectively. We have deliberately used the phrase "mobilising resources" (as opposed
the fundraising) in recognition that in order for an NGO to be financially sustainable, it has to be thinking in terms of
diverse income streams, being more business-like, being clear on its offer and the potential markets, etc. Although the "hook"
is resource mobilisation therefore, we are really talking organisational development.
The idea for this workshop
came out of discussions with ICA Zimbabwe and OPAD Zambia, and we are very fortunate to have been joined now by ICA Canada
and IC&A as well as two other UK based INGOs. The breadth of this support will not only increase the likelihood of a better
product, but will also mean that there will be several organisations ready and committed to support the use of this process
as participants start to use it after the workshop. The initial intent is that it will be primarily Africa-focused, but it
may well be of value in other parts of the world too. If anyone would like further details, please get in touch.
Wayne Ellsworth: April 17, 2009
Jonathan, Resource mobiLization is a fine target for your May meeting, and I
get the drift of your last memo to me. In a way, ICAJ has already started in this direction. Yet ICAJ has experienced
some ICA's we would not want to partner with. I think that the real edge is professionalism all around, including
delivery of development programs by world standards, as well as professional facilitation. This leads to the challenge
of great management as well. ICAJ is struggling with these issues as well. How to maintain our human sharing style,
and at the same time increase our professional delivery of programs?
Larry Philbrook: April 18, 2009
this conversation to discover the diverse experience we are having in the present global environment and the diverse responses
we are trying out in response to the environment or pro-actively toward the future organization and service we see from each
• As Chile and other locations mentioned the external environment is getting
tighter and more difficult to navigate for funding of NGO's in general.
• Several locations
feel that their current local environment is actually reinforcing their strategy as not only effective but leading edge (Peru,
UK, Canada, USA, Taiwan).
• Several locations are forming ICA Associate type organizations
to provide additional service and additional income. (Nepal, Bangladesh). Also Montreal is trying to establish local
program income through school projects and other things. This is not a majority of ICA's but it is informative about
what is going on.
Wayne's comment about the professionalism of our services and practices is important, and
yet is made more complex when we take into account the reality of the organizations in each location and their options for
development. Each of our ICA's is at a different place so taking enough time to understand that and formulate
options based on current capacity and local contradictions/strategies.
Another facet of Wayne's comment is when another
ICA or ICAI gets funding they are then responsible to the donor and to the target group to deliver the program effectively.
It is naive to think that every ICA can automatically deliver any program effectively, this can lead to a paradox between
delivery and development of the local ICA.
I am impressed by the ICA UK intention and Peru self-transformation,
each illustrate strong images of what ICA's might do to shift where they are and to aid other ICA's while learning.
From Taiwan we continue our own exploration of how to both do our own work in Taiwan and connect with other ICA's.
Locally we continue working with a strong group of local facilitators in diverse situations with lots of opportunities for
learning and long term change. Internationally we are working with several ICA's and other client organizations.
Evelyn Philbrook just returned from working with Jan Sanders, Tatwa and others on Social Artistry in Nepal and Bangladesh
and with ICA Bangladesh on continuing their development as an organization and using ToP methods. These opportunities
for learning and sharing always feed our learning process.