We are thrilled to continue #humansoftheworld, tales we can relate to and marvel at. Throughout this series, we share stories of appreciation, self-reliance, and strength from across the Aga Khan Development Network.

Maryana Munyendo, shares her experience conducting a mini-campaign for her organization, and the lessons and tools it provided for her team to build on. She is a participant in a digital engagement training workshop in Kenya organized by the Yetu Initiative, a Global Development Alliance with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Yetu means “ours” in Kiswahili and the initiative focuses on growing local self-reliance through strengthening local civil society organizations. 

Yetu works to strengthen the environment in Kenya for local philanthropy, helping to build the skills of local civil society organizations (CSOs) like Simba-Safe Kenya, which Munyendo started in 2014 to provide protective and education services for children. A long-time advocate for child safety, Munyendo previously worked for Strarehe Boy’s Centre, a Nairobi educational charity.

How did you encounter the Yetu Initiative?

The Yetu Initiative invited me for a Digital Engagement Workshop last October 2016. There I received training and networked with like-minded civil society organizations (CSOs) and had the benefit of hearing their real-life experiences –successes and challenges — in their resource mobilization efforts.

For my organization Simba Safe, I gained skills that increased my capacity in local campaigning efforts with a special focus on digital channels.

I was happily surprised to find the workshop renewed my passion to make a difference in people’s lives.

What was the most significant change that you experienced as a result?

My biggest obstacle to achieving success has been fear of committing to initiatives with no budget. I learned that you can show your passion for change in your community when you stop talking and start doing. During the workshop, I did not have an ongoing campaign or financial support from Yetu but the facilitators provided great encouragement for doing a campaign.

I decided to consider a Christmas 2016 mini-campaign for one of Simba-Safe Kenya’s initiatives, Missing Child Kenya. We developed this pilot/tester campaign.

Missing Child Kenya (MCK) embarked on a fund raising campaign through the online crowd-funding platform, M-Changa. (Yetu has also started using M-Changa to power its CSO-specific e-philanthropy platform, yetu.org.)

We also engaged well-wishers to join us by texting MCK to 22231 (Kenyan Mobile Subscribers Only) and thereafter sending any amount of money they wish to help us grow our efforts.

In addition, we selected Nairobi Children’s Court as a project to support in Christmas 2016 season. Nairobi Children’s Court is the largest exclusively children’s court in Kenya that handles children in conflict with the law as well as children in need of care and protection (truant, lost, abused, abandoned or run away children). It is also the central receiving point for all missing, lost and found children.
Our target amount was KES 2 million. We raised KES 50,000 in cash but received a lot of donations in kind (emergency essentials and comfort items). This was far below our target and a bit discouraging but nevertheless it provided a great learning opportunity for us.

Interestingly we managed to increase our followers on our social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter.This is good for us because these are platforms we use to distribute alerts about missing children. It also saved us an advertising budget for these platforms.

From the funds raised we managed to put up a notice board that is now dedicated specifically to cases of missing/ lost and found children at Nairobi Children’s Court.

Why was this significant?

Testing assumptions is the most significant change for me as a leader with a vision for my organization. From this mini-campaign, we were able to see how to plan and forecast empirically to ensure the success of a resource mobilization project.

What have been the key challenges in implementation of the project? How did you mitigate them?
Funding was the main challenge and we mitigated it with an Event Partnership. On 26-27 November 2016, Inspire Kids Expo hosted MCK as the expo’s selected charity. Activities for the day geared towards fundraising were:

• MCK stand with clearly labeled donation boxes for emergency and comfort items.
• MCK talk on Safety with a call to action for donations.
• Simba-Safe Mascot (Simba the Safety Lion) walked around giving mini fliers to participants calling for donations.
• Sale of handmade name bracelets at about US$2 each, with proceeds going to the MCK fundraiser. Visitors to the stand paid to have their bracelet made as they walked around then collected as they exited.

So the Yetu workshop was a very helpful training for us. Especially since the focus was on bootstrapping and using available online resources to create awareness. We are thankful for the opportunity.