Monday, February 9, 2015

Emotion and passion do not a compelling business case make

"...but it's the right thing to do..."

NFPs continually face the challenge and resultant frustration of having their well-intentioned and socially-beneficial activity funding proposals rejected. Why? In many cases, the compelling business case just isn't compelling enough - in the eyes of the funding party anyway.
Through personal experience working and volunteering in the Australian NFP sector, the eternal optimism of NFPs continues to be tested on a regular basis as they await, fingers, toes and everything else crossed, for the positive news about at least one of their funding submissions. They have poured their collective hearts and souls into the proposal. If they are diligent, they would have taken the time to investigate what aspects of the proposal the funder may have been touched by, previously supported or whether there is a clear alignment between the NFP and the prospective funder's CSR charter. And if they are realistic about their chances of securing the grant or funding, their proposal would have been reviewed objectively over and over again to ensure that the business case was clear, supported by robust figures/research/measurable outcomes and the 'WIIFM' that would appeal to an emotionally distant, rational and pragmatic funder audience.

"...however, on this occasion, you have been unsuccessful...."

Ah, these dreaded words - they break hearts and dent souls. And the NFP will undoubtedly spend many hours lamenting their lack of success and wondering why they were not successful. Mind you, the larger and more established NFPs feel this just as much as those NFPs that do not have the level of sophistication and business experience as their competitors.
Perhaps the key difference between the two types of NFP is the ability to develop sound business cases. Business cases that would 'stand up' to rigorous scrutiny when it comes to defined, measurable outcomes. Business cases that incorporate facts and figures, supported by credible research, that present such compelling benefits that they are 'no brainers' - the funding bodies can see clear 'WIIFM' benefits and they match the strategic direction of the funder.

The Business Case: prepare, review, be objective, review again.

Emotion and passion are an NFPs hallmarks. But these things are rarely the sole basis upon which grants or funding is awarded. A compelling business case must include measurable financial, societal and achievable benefits and must align with the funder's strategic direction for it even to be considered. Even then, in a space where there is so much competition for limited resources, it must have a 'WOW factor' that ensures the audience sits up and takes notice - remember, there are many others competing for the same pool of money.

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