Most founders and managers typically consider funds as their biggest challenge in running projects, however, when evaluated, this is not often the real problem. Their major problem often revolves around COMMUNICATION.
This perception is quite common with Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who usually do social development projects. If their executives take a step back to be more critical about their challenges, they will realize that funds challenge is merely an effect from other root problems.
The real question about funds as a project challenge becomes: what can be the reason why we are lacking funds for this project? Here are three important concerns to consider:
#1 Your project is not necessary
Does your organisation conduct needs assessment before embarking on a project? Do you even know what is needs assessment? Some NGOs are fond of swimming with the trend without knowing if the project they’re chattering is really necessary.
If your project doesn’t address a defined need, it’s unnecessary. If it doesn’t align with your organisation’s strategy, it’s also baseless. It may also be unnecessary if its results are not sustainable.
It’ll be almost futile to generate funds for an unnecessary project because the stakeholders will not be interested. And that brings me to the next problem …
#2 You don’t know the major stakeholders in your project
Stakeholders are those who can affect your project and those who your project can affect. Stakeholder management is one of the major pillars of project management and it simply makes no sense if you don’t spend time on it.
Stakeholder management is not only about identification, you’ve got to analyse their interest, influence and impact on the project.
For example, if a major stakeholder who has high power in your organisation is not interested in your project, then you’d have hard time in accessing the necessary funds and support you’ll need from that person. That means you’ll need to do extra work to get him/her see the benefits of your project.
But if you don’t even know this stakeholder and what he/she means to your project, how will you solve your problem that you’re blaming on funds?
Sometimes, those who the project can affect can also be a major source of fund. Imagine that you’re running a project to improve the nutritional status of school children and you don’t know that mothers, school teachers and administrators are major stakeholders in that project, that will be a recipe for terrible project challenge.
#3 You are not communicating well
In my opinion, this is the root problem why you think funding is your biggest challenge.
You may have done a good work in confirming the importance of your project and in knowing your stakeholders, BUT if you’re not communicating well, chances will be that you’re steering on the wrong path.
A proper communication model should answer five main questions viz:
i. What is the message?
ii. Why are you sending the message?
iii. Who are you sending the message to?
iv. How will you send the message? And
v. When will you send the message?
If you’re not conveying these in your communication packages, your potential funders may not understand why they should give you the money you’re asking for. So get to work and do better.
When you apply best practices in managing your projects, you stress less and become more productive. If you are not sure why you should commit time to this, here are five reasons why proper project management is gold.
Sometimes, you can do everything right and still lack funds for your project. However, before you blame funding as your biggest project challenge, you should be able to answer three cardinal questions for your project: is the project necessary, do you know the people who matter in your project and are you communicating well?
What other challenges do you experience in running your social development projects, do let me know in the comment section. You can also share this article to your peers who will benefit from it.