break the fundraising bottleneck – How Middle East Charities can raise money

CrowdfundingI come across charities regularly that are struggling with fundraising. Crowd-funding offers a good, and relatively easy way to get money online. You share your stories and needs with the world online and the crowd responds by sending you money to your account.  There are some basic steps to follow:

  1. Locate an online crowd-funding platform that is suitable for you. I recommend Just Giving because they’re in the region and their site is easy to use. They need your registration paper, a bank statement and an application form. The folks are very easy to work with and responsive.
  2. Recruit a student from a local university who understands social media market.
  3. Get your volunteers to take good photos or a short video (1 min or less).
  4. Write a script describing your cause, your beneficiaries, the way you will use funds and share photos/videos.
  5. Post your script and photos on Justgiving.com and / or your site. (They have great how-to videos)
  6. Your intern can help you share your campaign content on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Pinterest, Instagram).

Here are a few sample campaigns that I think are cool:

Stop Bullying

#GiveWater #GiveHealth

Cycling for Gaza

Let me know if you require more support. @rchakaki (on twitter)

Other resources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/chancebarnett/2013/05/08/top-10-crowdfunding-sites-for-fundraising/

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Refugees don’t need money, they need engagement!

Thanks to Salma El-Yassir the director of Welfare Association Lebanon Branch (WA-LB), I visited Burj El Barajneh Refugee Camp in Beirut. I visited to support the launch of a Youth Employment Service (YES) Program. To promote the project among camp residences, WA-LB commissioned Graffiti artist Yazan to work with camp residences to create an attraction for youth.

YES will have a profound impact on youth in the camp, and I’ll dedicate a post to it at a later date.  What I’m sharing is what struck me as a desperate need by youth in the camps to connect with those of us outside. I’m sharing a story and calling for action for those outside the camp who can inspire, mentor, uplift, to support. We only conserve what we love. We only love what we know… here’s what I saw and heard:

As we walked through increasingly narrow alley ways lined with trash I wondered how it was possible to dream of another reality.  Not a single street was paved.  I glimpsed a person in a wheelchair at his front door and wondered how he moved around in the camp. Alleys  are too narrow for a wheelchair,  have steep inclines, sharp turns.  But what is most striking is the exposed and extremely dangerous electrical and water pipes.

Mohamad our guide explained “if one wire gets cut, the entire neighborehood goes dark.  neighbores go out with candles and torches to find their wires and reactivate them. At times we have week long blackouts.  Students are forced to study on candlelight. When there’s a surge of water in the pipes, they burst. located next to the wire mesh, you get an electric shower. these allies become inaccessible.  In 2012 14 young men had died by electrocution.  The last one was a person the entire camp loved.  He was a good man who rallied residence to volunteer and better their community. During his funeral, his friends and loved ones took an oath to prevent such tragic deaths.  Me and a few other young volunteers erected homemade troughs around areas of the camp.  The project is still ongoing, we only finished a few areas of the camp.”

We are all influenced by our surroundings. We see beauty and it reflects within.  Nature heals. When we gaze at the horizon, look out at a green mountain, a blue ocean, even a tall beautiful building or an urban garden, we get our inspirations. In Burj Al Barajneh, there are areas where you cannot see sunlight.

Mohamad’s dedication to keep his environment safe, but like all of us, he gets discouraged by the mounting obstacles.  He adds,many of us don’t have jobs, we spend our days pounding the pavement looking for work, we come home to an electric shower in the ally, by the time we fix this, or clear that, it is 11pm. our frustrations, added to that of our families who live in this confine leaves us all in a hopeless state.  Yet we wake up the next morning, and push forward. It is what we must do to survive and give our children better lives.”

In life we all need support.  We have our internal drive, and need external support to keep us motivated, feeling appreciated, remind us that we are doing well and should persevere.  The visiting team offers Mohamad words of encouragement, appreciation, respect, admiration for his courage and determination.   Appreciation reminds him of what an amazing job he’s doing. The Welfare Association does its part.  They offer through programs like YES job opportunities.

More is needed.  It isn’t finance. It is human connections that compels youth to imagine a different reality. Mohamad and other young men/women in refugee camps need acknowledgement appreciation and encouragement .  Young men and women, businessman/woman must visit and offer moral support, encouragement, ideas for making camps a better reality.  If every individual took a half a day to engage with young men like Mohamad can you imagine how encouraging that would be? how much impact that would have on his life?  Connect. Engage. Inspire.

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them.” – Mother Teresa

 

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Once upon a school – Betine

Iqra Learning Center - Palestine

Spending 4 hours on the King Hussein border can be beneficial after all! I met a Palestinian-American (Wissam) who was visiting Palestine to evaluate a unique social initiative a friend of his started. We talked briefly, and met later in Ramallah.  Amal came with Wissam and took me on a tour of  the “Iqra Learning Center” in her husband’s hometown Batin.

When Amal moved to the West Bank from Fredrick MD. she saw a lot of kids roaming the streets of the village.. kids who should have been at school.  She learned that due to over populated classrooms, learning disabilities and their “special needs” they weren’t able to stay in school. Having seen many special ed programs in the US, she converted her garage to a tutoring center.

Her approach had such a positive impact, kids told their friends, who brought others and she ended up with three garages full of students.  Amal and her husband reached out to the community, got teachers, supplies and ran the program for the past two years.  She supported 100 students. Most are children of framers who cannot afford to pay and offer olive oil instead.

Today, 175 more students are wait-listed.  Amal rented out a larger space and is determined to continue her tutoring program.  Amal needs school supplies, furniture, books and computers.

Share my Dabba – A small sticker can make A BIG DIFFERENCE – YouTube

Share my Dabba - IndiaAs Ramadan approaches, we’re all thinking of ways to give. Charities and non-profits are looking for creative ways to reach out to the community.  Here’s a 2 minute video example of an initiative that works in India and can be  replicated in our region using local models.

SHARE MY DABBA – A SMALL STICKER CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE – YouTube.

here’s how your charity can replicate their success:

  1. Consider a campaign that builds on an existing food/beverage distribution network.
  2. Define your campaign objectives; keep it simple!
  3. Identify the people who’ll help you make it possible
  4. Create the message to reach them and get them on board
  5. Figure out your distribution channels
  6. Select communication channels where your supporters are likely to be (reach mass audiences of supporters through social media).
  7. Create simple content (photos, home-made videos)  that have a high emotional value.
  8. Start small and watch it grow.
  9. Measure your success and report on it to your stakeholders.
  10. Be patient with your program. Watch it grow slowly, it will have a longer lasting impact.

For a regional example check out the Family Kitchen in Jordan

For more on Share My Dabba check out lighthouse insights

Relevant organizations providing support in Ramadan: PMRS  Nakhweh

Brand YOU – an online celebrity or John Doe?

Personal Digital BrandYou’re a professional, you’ve worked in companies that guard their brand. You know what that’s like. A marketing  team enforces identity guidelines, everyone must use consistent fonts, colors, use the right language in the media and more.

Just as you set or comply with stringent guidelines for a corporate brand; you should do the same for your personal digital one. Why? Because:

1. Reflecting on the aspects of your personality you want to share and those you prefer to keep private helps create a loyal following of advocates who engage regularly
2. Consistency in your image and messaging improves recognition and recollection. Seeing the same profile photo on Facebook, twitter, linked-in and other channels helps followers remember you.

Here are a few tips on how you can do that:

  • Principles & Policy –  reflect on your standards for following, befriending, liking and criticizing others.  Think of how you’ll engage fans, friends and followers on topics you find interesting.  Be consistent.
  •  Your avatar photo – defines your personality.. make it reflect who you are.. keep it consistent across networks.Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 5.02.47 AM
  • Covers & Backgrounds – are important digital real-estate. Use it to give insights into your passions. Share your causes, creations and concerns on your covers and backgrounds.
  • The language you use – dictates your followers.. how you speak, the tone, the language, the topics all determine who follows you. create a dialogue (not a monologue) around topics you like and can maintain an interest in. Don’t be a trend follower, be a trend starter.
  • Hashtags – You can use to subject trends that spark your interest by hash-tagging. It keeps your content current. Anyone who searches for a hashtag finds you. Take the time to develop your hashtags and use them consistently. My favorites #SOCENT  (Social Entrepreneur) and my personal ones #elevate and #live2give
  • Keep it in character – while being different is good, being you is great!  I often come across content that’s trending and unique, but it doesn’t reflect my character. I move on!  You can get fans and followers by riding a trend wave, but do you really want just anyone riding your coattail?

Or on the topic from the expert:

7 Tips to Finding “Your” Writing Voice | Jeffbullas’s Blog.

If you have any more insights on creating a personal brand online, please share them in the comment section. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Arabs love to watch! video rules social media

Image

Content is king.  Video is Emperor in the Arab world.  Don’t wait for a Monitor Report on the matter. Check out the numbers of hits accumulated by regional youtube video production channels:

  • Saudi Satire video production machine “la yekthar” and Fahed Al Buthairi average a million hits per clip. They have 458,053 subscribers and 59,698,504 video views
  • Arab Idol’s youtube channel has 551,441 subscribers and 137,150,562 video views
  • Indie productions from Jordan “Bath Bayakha” averages 300k hits per video and are on their 3rd season

What this means is go video and you’re a hit.  It is that simple! And its not just entertainment, it is education, professional training, product demonstrations, service descriptions, workouts and lots more!

Tips for video:

  • Keep it brief.  1-3 minutes for a home-grown production, 3-5 if you have all the bells and whistle!
  • Front-load it – make the case upfront.. don’t drag on the intro.
  • Storyboard it – don’t be all over the place.. write a coherent script..
  • Keep it simple – business or entertainment, the simpler the better.
  • Know your audience – target it well. Don’t make it for everyone.

Last but not least, socialize it.  Its not enough to upload to twitter.. push it out to the social media sphere.

Enjoy being a youTube Star!

Who do you influence?

I’d like to think I have influence.. I’m certain we all do.. but what type of influence do we have online?

Business Insider Infographic - The Many Faces of Influence
Those with clout

Pick your profile from a lineup by Business Insider or define a new one..

  1. The Celebrity
  2. The Authority
  3. The Connector (me)
  4. The Personal Brand
  5. The Analyst
  6. The Activist (me again 🙂
  7. The Expert
  8. The Insider
  9. The Agitator
  10. The Journalist

I’d like to add

11. The Offender (not me but common around political social media circles)

12. The Authoritarian (those who want to bully everyone into submission to their personal opinions)

I’d define the two lateral categories as totally uncool!

How To Identify Social Media Influencers – Business Insider.

Like me do! engage your fans

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 8.50.48 AMTo like or not to like.. that’s the question facing millions on social media. Make it easy for your fans & followers.  This 5min video advice from the folks at Wildfire is useful.

  1. GIVE THEM EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO  VIP CONTENT!
  2. Build a content calendar around real life events.. tie it to your brand (personal or professional)
  3. Stream .. don’t drip!  make it regular and ..
  4. Engage.. DIALOGUE don’t monologue

Cinco-de-Maya | Wildfire.

Thanks Wildfire!

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