Swaziland is an independent kingdom nestled in the north eastern part of South Africa. The country is mountainous and about thrice the size of Rhode Island.
In Swaziland, a non-profit cannot have “earned” income. A nonprofit that generates revenue other than contributions is qualified as a ‘for-profit’ venture. Gone Rural is a fair-trade business that has built a system to employ thousands of local women to produce high quality crafts.
However, Gone Rural has several initiatives as its core purpose such as providing communities with clean drinking water, health care, and scholarships, and special programs that provide for community building and women’s empowerment/education. These central initiatives are wider reaching than a crafts business.
Gone Rural established the nonprofit organization, boMake to add “contributed income” revenue for its core purpose projects. I met them and shared some nonprofit fundraising techniques to help advance the organization.
Now, Gone Rural puts funds in boMake to support the non-business related ventures that are at the heart of the company. BoMake means “several mothers” which really defines the mission: Women working together for their family, their community, and their own betterment. I like the translation “many mamas”.
You do not have to be a woman to work with Gone Rural/boMake, but you must have a family member who contributes to the company in order to benefit from the programs. Here a couple of men sort fibers to prepare them for processing and ultimately distribution to the women to make various items: bowls, plates, weavings.
Once the fibers are sorted, some are dyed. Indigenous dyes are used in a kiln.
Fibers are dried after dying. Depending on the type of fiber, they may be dried here or spread over racks like the ones in front of the Sukumani BoMake sign.
After drying, fibers are stored in the store room until they are taken to the villages where the women will use them to fill an order for their crafts.
Fibers waiting for use in the store room.
A small amount of fibers are waiting for deployment.
Yael describes the process of getting raw materials to the women in villages.
Yael describes the store room as empty – a big order has recently shipped. Gone Rural has approximately 400 customers all over the world including Anthropologie!
Here’s where the magic happens: the orders are coordinated, the materials inventoried and distributed to the villages, and the final products accounted for prior to shipping to the customers – with bound journals and pencils!
Some finishing touches are placed on some items for a small order.
Some items are packaged for the shop.
Some women are sewing – working on a small order.
boMake’s offices are shared in the sewing workshop. Here is where the educational programs, the clean water initiatives, the scholarships, community building programs and the educational initiatives are coordinated!
Shelly, Yael and Heidi met to discuss growing boMake. They have determined that they need to increase contributions from individuals and family-foundations. We used nonprofit fundraising techniques from Major League Major Gifts to identify potential major donors and get them involved with boMake.
One of the challenges boMake would like to overcome is to keep donations central and avoid the splintering that is a potential hazard of program-specific funding. For example, the water initiative may be attractive and well funded while the scholarship program is on hold. Shelly and Yael want fundraising techniques to fund basic operating costs for the office to support these programs. We used processes from Finding Funding to help tell boMake’s story in a way that will diversify their funding and increase unrestricted contributions.
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Many thanks to you for taking the time to share such valuable information. We are so excited to be putting those tips into practise. In fact in a meeting to find sponsorship for a project on Early Childhood Development, we met with a potential funder and we applied one of the principles you shared. It so happens that ECD is exactly the type of project they are passionate about and have agreed to support us for the rest of the year and for future projects in this realm! Fantastic outcome. The challenge now is donor retention! We are so excited about putting more tips into practise too. We look forward to seeing you again on your next trip and sharing our fundraiser stories with you.