Strategies for NGOs with Limited Resources To Maximize Impact

May 14, 2024
min read

For NGOs, waiting for funding opportunities can be a long and challenging process. However, that doesn't mean you have to put your mission on hold. Aside from cutting costs and optimizing resource use, with limited resources, you can still make a significant impact and set yourself up for success when grant funding becomes available. In this blog post, we will share some strategies to help you maximize your impact while waiting

1. Build a Strong Network

Attending community events, conferences, and meetings is crucial for connecting with potential partners, collaborators, and supporters. Building a robust network can lead to valuable resources, expertise, and funding opportunities down the line. Don't underestimate the power of networking – it's not just about exchanging business cards; it's about fostering genuine connections and relationships.

At these events, be proactive in introducing yourself and your NGO's mission. Listen intently to others and look for areas where your goals align. Follow up promptly with new contacts, and nurture these relationships over time. A strong network can open doors to partnerships, collaborations, and potential funding sources that might otherwise remain untapped.

Imagine having your organization’s name featured in world-leading media like CNN, Forbes, and CNBC. While that comes from consistent successful works with hard evidence to back it up, reaching the stage comes with unmatched publicity and unrivaled access to high net-worth persons and resources. She Leads Africa, a platform that gives women the information, and inspiration they need to live the lives of their dreams, does so well with building relationships and networks. 

2. Engage your community

This is a good time to connect genuinely with your community and potential beneficiaries. Create a solid relationship with them. Mobilize volunteers and engage your community in your mission. This not only helps build a loyal support base but also demonstrates your organization's potential for impact when funding comes. 

Involve the community in your decision-making processes, gather their insights and feedback, and ensure that your initiatives truly address their needs. This grassroots approach not only fosters trust and buy-in but also ensures that your programs resonate with the people you aim to serve.

Volunteer Corps (VC) in Osun State is a voluntary organization established in 1992. Their mission is to grow volunteers who do not count the cost of volunteerism. They do this by organizing training programs for community members and after the training, they mobilize trained members as volunteers to support community development projects, including education and healthcare initiatives. 

3. Develop Your Online Presence

In today's global village, a strong online presence is essential. Create a professional website, social media accounts, and an email newsletter to share your story, showcase your work (or proposed initiatives if you're a new NGO), and stay top of mind with potential funders. Your website should be user-friendly, visually appealing, and optimized for search engines. Regularly update it with fresh content, such as blog posts, case studies, and success stories, to demonstrate your impact and expertise. 

Additionally, use high-quality images and videos to bring your work to life and engage your audience. Consistently produce high-quality, engaging content to keep your existing supporters informed and motivated and also attract new followers who may become future donors, volunteers, or advocates for your cause.

To put it into perspective, the total population of three local government areas in Nigeria—Ekiti in Kwara State (54,399), Ewekoro in Ogun State (55,093), and Kwaya Kusar in Borno State (56,704)—is 166,196 according to the 2006 population census. Now, imagine having social media followers to the tune of 353,000—that’s more than double the combined population of these three areas.

Naija Brand Chick currently has 353,000 followers on one of its social media platforms. This large following means their potential reach is significant, although not all followers may be directly impacted by a project. Funders are attracted to projects with a positive cost-to-benefit ratio, and a substantial social media following can enhance this appeal by demonstrating the potential to engage a broad audience and create widespread impact.

4. Lookout For In-Kind Donations and Pro-Bono Services

Reach out to local businesses, professionals, and experts who may be willing to donate goods, services, or expertise to support your cause. In-kind donations and pro-bono services can be invaluable resources for NGOs with limited funding.

Skilled volunteers can help you create compelling marketing materials, develop a user-friendly website, or even assist with grant writing and fundraising efforts. By leveraging their expertise, you can ensure that your organization operates at a professional level, even with limited resources.

Organizations like Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie law firm and SDGs Action Network that offer pro-bono services and in-kind contributions can be approached by NGOs during the waiting period. For SDGs Action Network, they request what an NGO needs in terms of services such as technicians and carpentry, and offer the members in the profession to NGOs needing the service. 

5. Focus on Your Program Development and Planning

Conduct thorough needs assessments and gather feedback from your target communities to ensure that your programs accurately address their most pressing needs. Involve stakeholders and subject matter experts in the program development process to ensure that your initiatives are well-informed and evidence-based. Develop a strategic plan that outlines your organization's goals, objectives, and action plans for the next few years. This plan should include measurable targets, timelines, and allocation of resources, ensuring that your NGO operates with a clear roadmap and direction.

There are over 4,000 NGOs in Nigeria currently; this means the probability that more than ten or twenty NGOs are tackling the same problem(s) is very high. Competition for funding is often high in such cases. In your waiting time, consider pivoting your NGO’s mission if it is operating in a crowded field to a rare but vital field. NGOs working in rare or crucial sectors or fields, like HIV/AIDS, rape, or terminal and ostracized diseases like leprosy stand a better chance at securing funding. 

The Leprosy Mission Nigeria (TLMN), an organization working with people and communities affected by leprosy, and other neglected tropical diseases and disabilities, has better and higher chances of securing funding than a regular organization offering training or doing empowerment. 

6. Collaborate with Other Organizations

Identify NGOs or community groups with similar goals or target populations, and explore opportunities for joint initiatives, resource-sharing, or knowledge exchange. By pooling your efforts and resources, you can achieve greater reach and efficiency than working in isolation.

Collaborations can take many forms, such as co-hosting events, launching joint awareness campaigns, or co-developing programs. They can also involve sharing office space, equipment, or administrative resources, reducing overhead costs for both organizations.

Take inspiration from successful partnerships like the one between CODE and DEAN Initiatives. In the last election in Nigeria, CODE and DEAN pooled resources together to execute the Election Eye Witness project that monitored the presidential election in the 774 local government areas in Nigeria. This is a feat that would have been challenging for either organization alone.

7. Become a Grassroot Organization

Your interaction with the community and potential beneficiaries will give you first-hand data and facts about what they are going through. This gives you the chance to devise a bottom-top approach and will make your NGO a grassroots organization. Use this to develop a clear, compelling narrative that demonstrates your organization's impact (or proposed impact), need, and growth potential.

When it comes to NGO funding, the impact is important and that is where the bottom-top approach floors the top-bottom approach. NGOs with grassroots connections are desired brides to funders because of their close contact with the local community they seek to help. If you were a funder, would you rather fund a Nigerian NGO to execute a project for Nigerians or a Kenyan NGO? Your answer is as good as mine.


Navigating funding constraints can be challenging, but it also presents an opportunity for NGOs to strengthen their foundations and position themselves for future success. As outlined in this blog post, building strong networks, developing an online presence, leveraging resources, focusing on program development, collaborating with others, and crafting a compelling case for support can maximize your NGO’s impact and better prepare you to make a lasting difference when funding becomes available.

Instead of waiting for funding to make a groundbreaking impact, use the interim period to refine your strategies, deepen your connections, and reaffirm your commitment to your mission with the resources you have. This proactive approach ensures that when funding opportunities arise, your NGO is ready to seize them and drive meaningful change.

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