How to raise funds by crowdfunding (Kenya)

Written by Ann Gloria Njoki, Deaf Outreach Program, Kenya

Please describe the fundraising situation that your organisation faced.

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.

Why did you decide to raise funds via performances and how did you go about doing this?

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.

What did you achieve?

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.

What did you learn from this experience?

This experience taught us a lot, including:

  • No amount of money is too small. It is the small money that when pooled together makes a larger amount to do a big project and impact lots of lives
  • Those people close to us (locally), especially those that donated items directly, were willing to be hands on and be practically involved in the process, for example, packing the care packages
  • However due to COVID-19 restrictions we did not allow the volunteers to do home visits.

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:

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:

  • How to engage givers beyond giving so that we are building long-term relationships.
  • We would prepare ‘Thank You’ notes and other items before launching the campaign.
  • We would build a pool of champions who would actively commit to action prior to launching.

What are your tips for someone facing the same or similar issues? / that wants to do the same?

Some helpful tips to successful crowdfunding are:

  • Identify a trusted and secure crowdfunding site or platform of giving
  • Embrace social-media networking and relationships to help with your crowdfunding
  • Simplify the campaign you develop so it connects with people’s hearts
  • Identify some easy way of connecting with the people such as progress photos and thank you cards.

Would you like to tell us more about this challenge your organisation faced? 

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:

  • Engage with the givers more and explore diverse ways of engaging them in the processes
  • Have a marketing plan and a small budget for ‘Thank Yous’ to help motivate givers and make them feel part of the organisation in some way
  • Engage a range of diverse social media and digital platforms. We mainly relied on Facebook, but we are now working on building our Twitter network as an active platform for engagement
  • Do more pre-planning, especially on how to increase and engage individual social networks and relationships
  • Have a pre-set budget to help accelerate the campaign (one needs to put a bit of money aside for crowdfunding to help, for example, with advertising, marketing products such as posters and ‘give aways’ among other things)
  • Another learning is, if you are doing crowdfunding locally while using an international site one may need:
    • An international person or persons who can champion the campaign among their peers as trust plays a big role in crowdfunding
    • Rely on international calendars to help you fundraise. For example, use Thanksgiving as a time to fundraise if you are using an American platform
    • For us when we did the crowdfunding request on the international platform it was luck which worked in our favour as one person gave us the total target.

Ann Gloria Njoki, Deaf Outreach Program, Kenya

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.