Fundraising Challenges for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Kenya.  

Dire economic predictions are all over the news. Looking at the Civil Society in Kenya, one can conclude that it is at a crossroad. This is attributed to dwindling funds from traditional donors due to the global economic crisis, promotion of the AID-to-TRADE paradigm and reclassification of Kenya as a middle-income country. Many local CSOs are now either closing or downsizing due to reduced funding, yet the services they provide are needed now more than ever. Despite a decline in funding from traditional sources, many local CSOs continue to ignore the idea that they could fundraise from their own countrymen.

The 2017 World Giving Index, a yearly global index of charitable giving recently ranked Kenyans as the third most generous people worldwide. Indeed, Kenyans are a philanthropic people. We give to our neighbours, friends and community whenever they are in need. No wonder we have a high number of beggars on the street, some of who come from as far as DR Congo, Tanzania and Malawi to leverage on Kenyans philanthropic nature.

Another study titled ‘Why Kenyans Give’ by Yetu initiative – a community philanthropy initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation and USAID that seeks to help local CSOs repackage themselves and mobilise resources from Kenyans, both locally and in the diaspora – concluded that Kenyans are givers with 93% of the respondents having given to a local cause.

The successes of Kenyan driven fundraising initiatives also brings the point home. Notably the Kenyans for Kenya campaign which raised a record 19 million via Mpesa donations while on its second day!! This begs the question; why are local CSOs not embracing local philanthropy to fundraise for their campaigns?

It all comes down to reputation, credibility and trust. We have grown up knowing that working for CSOs is a lucrative career with a handsome pay. Additionally, there are numerous reports of corruption in CSOs, staff whose wealth is questionable and deep-rooted distrust in CSOs when it comes to financial accountability. The Why Kenyans Give study shows, most respondents, 92% prefer to give directly to the individuals in need rather than give to an organisation.

For local CSOs to be able to fundraise from Kenyans, they need to rebrand themselves, be pillars of trust and embrace effective local resource mobilisation strategies to be able to reach out to ordinary Kenyans. YETU initiative is currently working with a number of local CSOs where they are building their capacity to enable them effectively mobilise resources and fundraise from Kenyans. http://yetu.org/




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