“Eneke the bird says that since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching” according to Wole Soyinka in Things Fall Apart. Local NGOs, knowing that donors at home are cautious about giving, have focused on international donors who are more empathetic to their causes.
This is because the developed world has deep pockets but fewer humanitarian projects while Africa has major problems, and even though some of our countries may have deep pockets, they have very short arms. The governments in the West encourage charity contributions by granting tax relief and incentives across the board in ways that our African administrations haven’t even thought of.
In Kenya it is possibly because former president Daniel arap Moi was hell bent on crushing every NGO to a pulp because in them he saw the faces of his enemies. We only had one Government owned TV station at the time where heads would roll if they did not cover his activities through the first 20 minutes of every news bulletin; and NGOs were his pet subject at most political rallies.
Despite the challenges, nonprofits have created a method to the madness and indeed we have seen incredible fundraising actives organized around national emergencies aided by the popularity of the mobile money service M-PESA. Mind blowing amounts have been raised for the famine in Turkana, for the emergency response after the Westgate terrorist attack, and for the occasional medial bill, because the Safaricom platform makes donating to a cause as easy as sitting on your couch and clicking on an icon.
Let’s examine the elements for promoting good causes in our continent beyond any kind of government incentive to do so. First establish relevance, because people won’t be inspired to give if they don’t feel an emotional connection to the cause. NGOs and CSR initiatives regularly publish their areas of focus but those actions must address issues that consume our thoughts and burn in our hearts.
Secondly, relationships construct the machine that grinds on day in and day out, which by continuity is able to churn out sustainable outcomes and deliver long term results. These bonds have to be made with other like minded donors, the media, the public at large, and especially with the beneficiaries.
Finally we come to reputation, without which your fundraising efforts will only be a flash in the pan. Henry Ford said that you can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do and the same rings true for charity initiatives because your track record is your biggest asset, and from this foundation you can launch visionary projects that can truly change the world.
If you are out in the market looking for a suitable charity to support or partner with, ensure that they have the relevance, relationships and reputation that can sustain long term endeavors that are required to solve our humanitarian and environmental issues.
If you break down the useful activities that you can do as a human being into 2 things they would certainly be using God’s gift of life to give life to another, and to spend time on charitable initiatives that help others who may be deprived to do just the same. There isn’t a better time than this moment to give to a cause that you believe in.