Ever been on a resource mobilisation mission for an activity so important - telecentre event, content development for communities - but only got lacklustre response. I suspect you then wondered whether you might be able to sustain the momentum or even start the activity itself. Alright, help is on the way. I have a few practical tips that I picked up recently from people involved deeply in resource mobilisation for telecentre community.
I don’t know about you. But for me, what I like most about travelling is that I get to meet people with a lot of passion for telecentres, learn new ideas and share what I learnt from where I was yesterday. On yet similar occasion...
He cleared his throat and started, “Erm…you see, I realised that I would lose nothing really if I printed the logos of the institutions that I had approached for partnership. The cost would remain literary the same whether I included them on the banners or not – after all I was prepared to print the banners anyway. Today, they have not given to the event but I thought it would help my prospective partners to know what I think about them – in future they might just participate” My host was responding to my short inquiry “…how did you raise all these ten partners and what has been their contribution?”
Actually, he did not only print the partners’ logos on all banners and publicity materials but also regularly cited them in speeches. We even got to visit some of the prospective partners’ activities. Thinking back, you are talking classical courtship and reaching out.
As the adage goes, “as sure as sunrise”, days rolled on and came the last morning of the three-day event. I caught up with my host to review progress. We certainly talked about the partners and overall event which to reckoning was relative costly. He debriefed me about a late evening meeting with one of the prospective partners - a telecom company. Recall the “no-show” partners printed on the banners? Yes, one actually gave him a cheque as contribution to the event.
He would walk me through the highlights of how it all came together. The director of the telecom company was so impressed with the event and humbled by the gesture of printing his logo even without any contribution. That was free publicity… so the director thought. “Your trick worked,” I congratulated him and wanted to know more. Apparently, four other prospective partners promised concrete support to the telecentre movement after the event.
This is not a line from your typical science fiction movie or academic exercise. It’s real. I know you can deduce a number of lessons to use next time you embark on a resource mobilisation campaign. I will nevertheless share what I took away:
- Be confident about your value proposition – which you are sharing with partners and asking them to join with. It is very likely that if you are not confident no will be.
- Resource mobilisation is a process; don’t expect early returns. In all cases, it is useful to have a stomach for an extended search.
- Be tactful and often think about yourself and the interest of the partner you want to court
- Do everything to establish and nurture relationships with partners – small things like printing logos on publications or websites can go very far. The best part, they may not even cost you anything.
- Always think positive about any prospective partners, show you appreciate the relationship even if nothing concrete has come off yet…when it comes off, celebrate and acknowledge. There are several reasons why a partner may not support you on a specific activity most of the time it does not mean “s/he can never support”. Underlining the importance of relationships, Major Gen. Surat (India) said “people give people”.
- There is no substitute for demonstration. Most partners want to be convinced you deserve the relationship – it is not about what you think or do but how it shows as well as its impact to what a particular partner believes in.
Go out, try these tips. Fine, blend with what you already know that has worked for you. I really like to know your experience too.
As for my host, it is Ahmed Eisa with Sudan telecentre network. Anyone who attended the East African Telecentre Leaders’ Forum (EATLF) early June will tell you, it was a great event in many ways thanks to Ahmed’s resource mobilisation strategies. It had a considerably bigger budget compared to all other EATLF ever held. …and for these source of the resources, …yes, you guessed it.