Carolyne A. Opinde
Raising funds, impacting lives globally
By Fati Gorezi
Carolyne A. Opinde, is an Entrepreneur, Fundraiser and an International Speaker. She is the Founder and Senior Managing Partner of The NGO WhispererTM , a consulting business with a global reach that helps non-profits to raise funds, so they can successfully impact people’s lives. She has over 15 years’ experience in raising funds and managing large socio-economic projects. As an international speaker and thought leader for social entrepreneurship, Carolyne has spoken to audiences of over 2500, and interviewed among others, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela and Hollywood actor, Charlie Sheen.
She has shared various global stages with renowned celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg, John Travolta, Mel Gibson and well-known billionaires and millionaires, such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Hugh Hilton, and Randi Zuckerberg among many others. Carolyne is passionate about sustainable socio-economic development and has dedicated her life to Raising Funds, Impacting LivesTM globally.
How do you remember the beginning of your career?
My journey into building a global consulting business began in 2014, the same year that I enrolled to study for a master’s degree in Project Management at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK. My vision was and still is so big, and I knew I could not accomplish it on my own. So, I hired a highly successful coach to help me make my vision a reality. I specifically wanted to work with a coach who has the experience of building a global consulting business. I feel so blessed to have worked with Coach Kevin E. France, Founder and Managing Partner at Momentum Consulting Group. In March 2018, I successfully transitioned out of employment and launched The NGO Whisperer™ based on Raising Funds, Impacting Lives™ model, a methodology that I designed to help non-profits executives lead their organisations successfully.
What attracted you to this career path?
My parents, mentors and coaches shaped and moulded me into the person I am today. In my upcoming e-Book I speak about the power of relationships in influencing my career path as an entrepreneur. I grew up in a loving home with a father and mother who cared for people. My family hosted many needy people in our home to help them get back on their feet. As far as I can remember, we always had children or older people hosted in our home. In my family, we have this joke that says, “there is always room for one more at Mama’s house”. All these experiences broadened my thinking and helped me to see wealth as a powerful tool that can be used to positively bring a lasting change in people’s lives.
Carolyne A Opinde with her client Dr Bukirwa Irene Kamara, at the
Global Woman Club Johannesburg, South Africa meeting in June, 2018
What type of coaching and training does your company offer?
The NGO Whisperer™ is a consulting business that offers the following services to non-profits:
- Resource Mobilisation – We help non-profits identify suitable donors, design projects, develop grant proposals and manage donor relationships.
- Project Management Support – We support non-profits to implement high quality project management systems and processes for effective and efficient grant management.
- Governance and Organisational Management – We advise leadership teams to design and implement governance and management structures that are suitable for their sustainability.
- Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management – We assist non-profits to develop and implement an organisation-wide enterprise risk management strategy for their sustainability.
- Executive Coaching – We offer one-on-one coaching for leadership teams in non-profits to facilitate their development, help them get past impasses and build their strengths.
All our services are offered as distinct pillars or in combination. We are always happy to discuss options with our customers to better address their unique needs.
What’s your approach in tackling difficulties, either personally or professionally?
In life and in business we face difficulties that need to be solved quickly and amicably. While every situation has a different level of discomfort and uncertainties, one thing is for sure, a positive attitude always helps me to rise above the situation and move past the impasses quickly.
Recently, I had to make a tough decision about two customers whose values and level of professionalism did not align with The NGO Whisperer’sTM values. Based on my experience in risk management and with the objective perspective of my coaches, we analysed the situation objectively looking at the best-case scenario, the worst-case scenario and the most likely scenario, then decided to withdraw. This is a risk management technique that has helped me make great decisions quickly and objectively in my personal and professionally life.
Can you share some tips for women who want to start their own business?
This is an interesting question that I get asked very often. There are so many opinions on how to start a business as there are entrepreneurs and businesses. Today, I will share three tips based on my personal experience, successes and leanings.
Tip 1. Identify a successful business coach – There are so many coaches with all sorts of qualifications and testimonials. The key thing to note is no-one can take you where they have never been. Before you sign up for any coaching, I highly recommend you do a thorough due diligence to ensure your coach is a successful business owner whose value systems aligns with yours – so together you can work towards your vision.
Tip 2. Identify your vision in life – Paint a picture of what your personal and business life will look like over a specified period of time starting with where you are. I suggest having a three to five year plan to test your commitment levels and personal integrity to the vision you have cast and the desired results.
Tip 3. Identify a problem that you can solve – Identify a service or a product that is in demand and find a unique way to supply it faster, better, and more efficiently. In delivering your services or products you will need to build a high performing team who share your values and are committed to your vision for at least 12 – 18 months. If you do not have the skills to deliver services and products in-house, developing partnerships and collaborations with reputable entrepreneurs is a great way to move forward.
What are the skills that are most important for an entrepreneur?
There are many skills that are useful to an entrepreneur and some skills are industry-specific. For me the top three skills that helped me grow globally are:
The ability to brand and market your services to the correct audience – Every market has its own characteristics, its big sharks and small fishes. The market changes all the time and requires entrepreneurs to use different strategies to position themselves and get the attention of the buyer. In today’s economy entrepreneurs can be their own global branding and marketing agencies, using social media without breaking the bank. My question to all entrepreneurs is “how well are you positioning yourself online?”
The ability to confidently negotiate and sell at a price tag that brings you joy – Closing deals is not enough. One must always close deals at a price tag that is commensurate to your excellent service. A common mistake that entrepreneurs make is offering lower price points with the hope that customers will buy from them. I learned this lesson the hard way. What I do now is offer my consulting services at a good price and provide a WOW experience to my customers.
The ability to connect with people in the long term – Building and nurturing meaningful relationships with people over a long period of time is costly but rewarding. Whenever I reach out to people, the first question I ask myself is – “What can I offer that is of value to them or can help solve their issues?” Most recently, I got a business deal out of a relationship that I have been cultivating with a friend from Sweden. This might come as a surprise to you, but many successful people desire to build genuine friendships with great people. Always seek to add value to people you interact with because people matter.
The ability to take instructions from your business coach and act fast – No matter what your industry is, your ability to take instructions from your business coach and your speed of implementation determines how fast you will grow. I have many examples of how my clients and I take action – and get results faster. One example that I would like to share today is the story of Dr Bukirwa Irene Kamara, an accomplished scientist and university professor who signed up for The NGO Whisperer™ services in June 2018 at the Global Woman Club launch in Johannesburg, South Africa where I was a speaker and a panelist. In less than one week of her joining us we had our first mastermind session to set-up a non-profit that is officially operating as of August 02, 2018! Now, that is not even all. We have secured great relationships with collaborating partners that will help her accelerate her growth in South Africa. I am very much excited and cannot wait to see how many lives will be changed through this non-profit.
What is special about your lifestyle?
I created a business model that gives me and my employees the freedom to live and work from anywhere in the world and lead a fulfilling life. For example, the last few months from July to September 2018, I travelled and spent time with my family in Europe – something I could not have been able to do if I were in a job. This type of lifestyle requires a high degree of discipline and productivity. Every hour of my day is accounted for. I am focused on making each day the best day ever, because everything I do today is shaping my tomorrow. No matter where I am, I update my daily, weekly and monthly planner and make sure that every task is aligned to my personal and business goals. Every day, I ask myself this question, “What are the top five important tasks that I need to accomplish today to get me closer to my goals?” I focus on these five tasks and everything else is secondary. This technique is so powerful; it has helped me manage my energy, time and relationships in a more fulfilling way.
What are the next steps you are working on?
The NGO Whisperer™ brand is growing every day and we are working closely with our clients to help them adopt funding models that will result in sustainable, replicable and effective projects. So far, we have clients in Africa, Europe, United States, South America and the Caribbean. We are focusing our efforts on expanding our footprint across the globe. We are currently recruiting for a multilingual senior position to work with our Spanish and Portuguese speaking clients. Details will be available on our website www.ngowhisperer.com at the end of October 2018.