Being open about our mistakes…
Only 1 in 2 people trust charities and we hope that by being ultra transparent with our projects, it will help to change that perception.
It’s not easy to openly admit mistakes or ways we could have done things better, but we hope that by doing so more charities will feel happy to share their challenges and learnings so we’ll all get better at what we do.
Lesson 1 - Focus
As a relatively new charity venturing into international development, our eyes were wide and we wanted to help children in every way possible. But we’re made up of a couple of volunteers with a certain amount of resources and this resulted in spreading ourselves too thinly, instead of becoming really good at just a few things. So, in 2018 we recruited Trustees with project management and strategic skills to lead a more focused and realistic strategy for our charity. This has helped us to focus on what we’re good at.
Lesson 2 -Listen & Contribute
One of our strengths is that we listen to the communities that we work with and partner with a Tanzanian NGO on the ground. Access to water was identified as a huge problem for the rural villages we work in. In early 2016 we fundraised and purchased a tractor to transport water from 10km for our schools to use. However, this wasn’t tackling the issue of high-fluoride levels in the water. So Made With Hope researched solutions for this and found other great organisations using rainwater harvesting systems to tackle both access to clean water, and getting water free from dangerous fluoride. Our successful rainwater harvesting pilot in 2018 has encouraged us to scale this project around rural communities in Arusha, Tanzania.
Lesson 3 -Fundraise wisely
Made With Hope solely did community fundraising for the first 4 years of our existence. We love to get out into the community, from working with schools, to hosting market stalls, to encouraging people to do 10km runs. We still do all of these things, but to ensure we could continue to raise income and scale our projects, we invested time into learning how to do Trusts and Foundations (grants) fundraising in 2018 which meant we could find bigger pots of money. It was important to us to diversify our income to ensure we were financially sustainable.
Lesson 4 -Pause & Reflect
By 2017, Made With Hope had many successful projects. But we realised we’d been so busy with fundraising and implementing projects, that we’d neglected our organisation’s policies, governance and didn’t have a clear strategy for the future. So we sought pro-bono support from a variety of organisations to help us recruit more Trustees, create a strategy, update our policies and generally make the charity more professional. It took time and energy away from fundraising, but we are pleased that we invested in our organisations future and now regularly review how we’re doing.
Lesson 5 - Ask for help
Our charity started by a passionate founder, who is still heavily involved today. But she is only one person, and could not carry on doing the bulk of operations herself. From 2018, we’ve invested time into recruiting more active Trustees and volunteers. We are also looking to hire a member of staff in 2019 to work on becoming more sustainable and secure.
If you’re interested in learning more about the lessons we’ve learned so far, please don’t hesitate to contact us :)