How to raise funds by developing your networks

Written by Ondiege Matthew, Dance Into Space Foundation, Kenya

What was the fundraising situation that your organisation faced?

Dance Into Space Foundation (DISF)’s core business is dance and performing arts for persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities. The organisation works on a project-by-project basis, so continuing operations after the end of a project is an ongoing challenge. Having continuity and visibility between activities also poses a challenge. Our fundraising task was to explore other avenues of funding/income that would fill the gap between projects and ensure that we could continue our work.

Why did you decide to raise funds by working more closely with your networks, and how did you go about doing this?

We decided to capitalise on opportunities to market ourselves to a paying public audience through our existing networks, and within the arts and entertainment community. We do this through publicity posters, media adverts, social media, and word of mouth etc. We also participate in partner events.

We do dance performances and offer training and classes to organisations doing creative, developmental or disability work. On a paid consultancy basis, we also offer services like facilitating projects/conferences/curating events as well as audio-visual documentation to partners in civil society and community-based groups. In addition, we hire out our performing arts facilities and space to groups and individuals.

The money we raise helps keep us visible and helps with running costs like website updates, office rent, communication, and utility bills. Proposals and fundraising are done by a small team who work on a retainer enabled by the funds raised through performances.

What did you achieve?

We were able to establish contacts with like-minded organisations and join existing networks, we even initiated the formation of new networks. Collaborations and joint funding opportunities emerged out of these interactions.

Through this, the DISF has built staff capacity in relevant areas including in the administration of projects, by getting training from experts from civil society (accountants, programme managers, M&E experts etc). We have also been able to access the resources – information, research materials, and reports etc. – that our partner organisations have. All of these have helped us sustain and survive through difficult times.

What did you learn from this experience?

Our services are of value to other sectors, community groups, advocates, activists, creatives, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and government. We learnt how networks and partnerships are formed out of mutual needs and provide mutual benefits, and that there is power in meeting other players and making connections. The connections are potential clients who can sustain our organisation with incoming generating opportunities throughout the year.

What are your tips for someone facing the same or similar issues / that wants to do the same?

  • Look out for partnerships and join or initiate networks
  • Volunteer to contribute to other partner’s activities; that will make them see your value and so when they need something you have, they will come to you
  • Invest in capacity development for the organisation by acquiring facilities that can generate income on hire basis. Also, develop the capacity of your staff so that they have the necessary creative skills that will be useful in the company

Ondiege Matthew, Dance Into Space Foundation, Kenya

Ondiege Matthew has been at the forefront of community development dance arts in East Africa since the 1990’s. He is the CEO of the Dance Into Space Foundation (DISF), an organisation which exists to increase the appreciation, practice, and training of inclusive, mixed ability dance arts. As the artistic director he fundraises for the productions, advocacy, and rights awareness projects. Ondiege has contributed an article titled ‘Breaking Barriers with performing arts’ in Every Body Matters publication of good practices for inclusion of people with disabilities (PWDs) in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).