Written by Ann Gloria Njoki, Deaf Outreach Program, Kenya
In 2020, when the world was faced with the unexpected disruption of COVID-19, our beneficiaries risked losing employment; being confined at home, and the increased burden of providing food during shortages. The risk of gender-based violence (GBV) also increased. As the situation developed we recognised the need for urgent action.
Because of the urgency and the lack of guaranteed outcome, we did not feel we could rely on the regular calls for funding applications, so we turned to crowdfunding.
In the past we have used international sites such as the 1% Club platform for fundraising, but this time we looked into a local trusted crowdfunding site in Kenya, namely M-Changa. M-changa allows people to give safely through the site in whatever form they were comfortable with. For example, people could pay through mobile money transfer, credit card or PayPal and the amounts accepted could be as little as €1.
M-Changa allows for diverse community and individual fundraising and they shared a community Call for Action. The Call asked for food and other items and we included a request for disposable menstrual pads. Even though we were using a Kenyan site, with the Call being on digital platform, it had a wider coverage rather than being restricted to our community. People near our office/area who saw the Call opted to bring in donations or items rather than give through the platform. Others who lived further away gave money through the site.
By the end of the campaign, we had raised a total of €1,350. This enabled us to reach 80 families of people with a disability. We reached them with care packages of dry food, menstrual hygiene packs and a film about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) that we had produced as part of an ongoing project.
This experience taught us a lot, including:
One contributing factor to successful crowdfunding that goes beyond the cause, is using all your social relationships to help and having champions reaching out to their friends and networks directly. For example, some people did not necessarily know about us or our work, but as they trusted and believed in the person (their friend/contact etc.) who asked them to help raise funds, they often donated as well.
It is important to break down your budget so that even if you do not reach your fundraising target you will still be able to do the proposed project/activity on a smaller scale. This campaign was easy because even if we got 1 Euro we could buy an item of the same worth for 1 person.
This experience also taught us that people of all backgrounds are willing to be part of the solution to a community problem, as long as they understand the problem and solution being presented to them. To thank people, we did customised Thank You cards and shared progress photos. Here is a link to one of a company that gave products worth 600 Euros. They also shared the Thank You card we sent on their site: facebook.com/DummenOrangeEU
On the downside, we learnt that the crowdfunding process can be a bit tedious, especially if you do not have a team that is specifically dedicated to it.
We will do crowdfunding again but, learning from our experience, next time we will plan better and have a better thought through and coordinated process. This will include:
Some helpful tips to successful crowdfunding are:
Most of the challenges we faced are based on what we would have like to have done or would do better next time. For example, in the future we would:
Ann Gloria Njoki is the founder and Director of the Deaf Outreach Program (DEAFOP) a young grassroots disability organisation working toward mainstreaming deaf and disability rights into development. DEAFOP’s main flagship project is the promotion of access to SRHR information through sign language and it does this through various interrelated programmes and innovations.
As a leader of a young, local organisation, one of Ann Gloria’s main responsibilities has been lead the team’s fundraising and to explore various methods of fundraising, including crowdfunding.