ygap and Program Led Fundraising

The evolution of ygap’s fundraising strategy

Fundraising is an ongoing challenge for most Not-For-Profit (NFP) organisations despite how long they’ve been in operation. Delivering on their mission, which is what they do best, traditionally does not raise revenue in itself (quite the opposite) and planned impact-driven interventions must be carefully balanced against the necessary resources required to deliver these effectively. Securing funding for an early-stage NFP at the beginning of its journey however, can be even tougher. As a NFP starts out, it lacks the credible reputation, historical data, proven methodology, established systems and proven track record as an organisation to present a case for partnership. At this stage of its development, it becomes imperative for an organisation to be able to sell a vision of the future, and what impact they hope to make, in order to acquire that initial funding. 

Developing a solid and proven body of activity becomes even more challenging for a young NFP engaging in the complexities of  international development, often having to carefully enter and understand  new ecosystems, form new partnerships, test new methods, and navigate the multi-dimensions of local context. Equally as challenging is developing income streams that are sustainable, diverse enough to avoid the risk of focusing all fundraising attention in one place, and that align with the vision, mission and values of the organisation. More challenging still is doing both of these things well, and in synergy. 

As a young organisation, ygap’s early funding was based on selling a vision, a story of how the world should be, and finding partners who shared this vision. This strategy was incredibly effective for the burgeoning non-profit, especially in the portion of ygap’s history where it was primarily a fundraising body rather than an implementation body. ygap was masterful at developing innovative fundraising campaigns like Polished Man and 5 Cent, and starting our own social enterprises whose profits would support the funding of programs through implementation partners. 

The funding we were able to raise through these early initiatives is a testament to the tenacity, vision and passion of ygap’s founders and the partners who seed-funded our work. To paint a picture of a future vision that people are not only excited by, but prepared to back with their investment is no small task. It is also the reason that ygap was in a position to merge with Spark* in 2015, an organisation with a similar vision and a values-aligned model for international development, as an implementation partner, and bring program delivery in-house. When the merger happened, ygap’s focus and expertise was broadened significantly and the need emerged to move toward funding our work based upon a proven impact model, and further align our income streams to this model. 


What do we mean by program-led fundraising?

Since ygap has shifted its focus to program design and delivery, alongside fundraising, we have developed greater breadth and depth in terms of our expertise around impact enterprise, locally led development, and contextualising our work based on location. Programs are co-created by our In-Country Program Teams based on the specific needs of the ventures in the ecosystems in which we work, detailed data collection from past programs, and insights gleaned from past iterations, which all contribute to the continuing evolution of our methodology and increasing effectiveness. 

Implementing programs based on these core foundations ensures that we approach our work in the most effective way and is most likely to achieve the program’s intended outcomes. Clear objectives underpinned by clear inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes, that are validated by a dedicated Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning strategy, provides ygap the opportunity to engage with funders who have trust in ygap’s ability to deliver on these outcomes, and are willing to support the organisation to continue to do so. 

Whilst having retained and still striving towards our vision of ‘a world without poverty’, this new direction is about focusing in on the results we have to show from the work that we’ve done, the tangible improvements in key metrics that emerge with every new data set we collect, and the  continually developing expertise of the organisation as a whole. 


Why is program-led fundraising important?  

Practicing program-led fundraising forces us to be very clear with the value proposition of our programs, and allows us to engage with partners who are aligned with our vision, mission and objectives. It means that we stand out from the crowd to those who have a specific interest in the work we do, the challenges we face and how we’ve learnt from them which leads long term partnerships that are based on transparency, integrity and accountability. Being program driven with a strong value proposition means that we can continue supporting locally-led change. 

It may take a little more work but we believe it’s worth it and is as beneficial to our partners as it is to us. Adopting a lens of program-led fundraising means the care we take to ensure what we do is driven by the people we serve gives partners an intimate understanding of our work, and confidence that their investment is truly making a difference. 



Program-led fundraising introduces a subtle but important shift to the dynamic of ygap’s impact work and our partnerships. Deep engagement with the communities in which we work and implementing programs that are driven by the local context allows us to deliver our work in the most impactful and effective manner. Importantly, it means that we have to be very clear with what we do and what we hope to achieve, and commit to presenting data to prove our theory of change. We must keep funders informed of progress, successes reached and the lessons obtained from the inevitable challenges faced that we look forward to integrating into future programs. 

This shift towards program-led fundraising means that we can continue to invest in diverse revenue streams, and pursue innovative income ideas, but with a foundation that is based on the strength of our work, continuing to develop that synergy between our impact and our fundraising as we go. 

To find out more about partnering with ygap, contact our Partnerships Manager, Christie Raymond, at christie.raymond@ygap.org