While non-profit missions are planted firmly, our programs may shift or expand to address the changing needs of society. This need for flexibility and adaptability has never been more true than in the past year. The global pandemic required nonprofits to reconsider how they deliver their services to ensure the health and safety of all involved. For a volunteer-driven organization like HandsOn Hong Kong, the question was 'how can we remain hands-on with our services when social distancing required a hands-off approach?'
This need to be nimble and responsive to the needs of the day meant that some of our funded programs had to change. This is where flexibility and trust in funding relationships are critical. In Hong Kong's nonprofit sector, we're talking a lot about the importance of flexible funding to support programs that may require extension, evolution or adaptation based on circumstances, learnings from implementation or changing market needs. Without a crystal ball, it's impossible to predict what challenges may lie around the next corner, so it's critical for nonprofits to have room to maneuver the operations or direction of funded programs to be responsive.
Beyond the programs themselves, we see nonprofits also raising awareness around the need for unrestricted funds that enable the everyday running of organizations. This refers to the people, the processes and the systems required for creating and sustaining organizational success. It's no secret that effective organizations deliver results, and impact, which is why it can be frustrating for nonprofits when a funder doesn't acknowledge the full operational costs required--most importantly the people that create, deliver and support programs--or the need to build capacity to optimize their impact in the community.
Not all funding is created equal, and for organizations on the front line, mobilizing volunteers to respond to immediate community needs, flexible and unrestricted funding is by far the most valuable and empowering.
Our friends at Asian Charity Services capture this point of view in a compelling article entitled 'The Significance of Unrestricted Funding for Sustaining an NGO -- Part 1'. We found numerous talking points and insights in this article to help bolster our own confidence in talking about the importance of unrestricted funding with our own partners. We can't wait to read Part 2.
Executive Director, HandsOn Hong Kong