David Auerbach Finding Impact

FIP 028: Fundraising, Media and Conferencing with David Auerbach

This is part two of an interview I had with David in which he dishes out tons of advice on all things communications and fundraising. David Auerbach is the co-founder of Sanergy – a social enterprise making hygienic sanitation affordable and accesible in Africa’s informal settlements. His role on the team is external relations, which concerns all things money, talent and partnerships. It’s a huge pleasure to get David on the show, he’s been a friend and peer in the sanitation sector for many years, and I’m a true fan of Sanergy. Check out episode 27 in which we talk about all things founders. Read on for a summary of my main takeaways from this great interview with David, which I’m sure will be invaluable to anyone in the social sector seeking to raise funds for their organisation.

On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why Sanergy believe it’s important to be forthright when talking about sanitation (not to shy away from talking about poop).
  • To avoid poverty porn when telling your story, better to talk about the problem at the community level, rather than at the suffering at the individual level. But then refer to the transformation happening to the individual.
  • Sanergy believed from day one, that any media is good media – because it could impact a future funder or a future manager on your team. So important to invest in a communications team early on.
  • Fellowships with good brands, such as Echoing Green, Draper Richards Kaplan and Ashoka, has meant bringing some great media attention to their organisation.
  • Reaching out to local media is important for reaching new talent but also to provide legitimacy to government, who are a critical partner in Sanergy’s scale.
  • Sanergy entered into many business plan competitions which had the added benefit of really honing their story early on and meant they got really good at delivering it.
  • When targeting new audiences in their communications, they’re having to rethink their pitch, especially in terms of scale if it’s a municipality you’re pitching to.
  • When the most important person in your social enterprise in the customer you’re serving, you can’t have foreigners coming in to your community watching them go to the toilet!! So Sanergy has crafted a tour which gives visitors a really good insight into their business. And they especially don’t stop the cement mixer if it’s noisy – because work must continue!
  • It’s useful to keep track of conference effectiveness via an internal scoring system, including things like (a) did we gain access to new funds, (b) did we get to efficiently check in with current funders, (c) did we get to speak, (d) did a media interview come out of it, (e) did it give a unique opportunity for a team member to develop their skills, etc.
  • It’s important to get the conference attendance list in advance so meetings can be planned – as opposed to a hit and hope strategy. Then get introductions to the people you need to meet, as cold emails are hard.
  • Writing the introduction email for your contact to forward on saves time and makes it easy to be introduced.
  • Always go to the networking events at the conferences, and never try to do the pitch there. Instead, schedule a time for the morning or later on.
  • If the priority for your organisation is fundraising, then your order of priority at your conference might be (a) meeting funders; (b) building your network; (c) attending conference lectures or talks.
  • Be very clear on next steps when meeting someone at a conference, and follow up quickly via email.
  • Sanergy uses twitter to share articles and show thought leadership, to show they’re part of the sector community, and then Facebook for keeping in touch with their fans.


Get in touch with David:


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.