EVANS OKINYI: Technology now driving local giving

A reflection on digital platforms in the wake of Covid even paints a brighter picture.

In Summary

• Furthermore, the platforms are changing perceptions as well. Giving is no longer associated with hospital bills, funeral expenses, school fees, and weddings.

• Instead, it is emerging as a tool vital for individuals and institutions to explore.

Philanthropy and charity organizations working in Kenya have had to adapt to the changing tides to catch up and reach a wider community for aid and support both locally and internationally.
Philanthropy and charity organizations working in Kenya have had to adapt to the changing tides to catch up and reach a wider community for aid and support both locally and internationally.
Image: SHUTTERSTOCK

Philanthropy and charity organizations working in Kenya have had to adapt to the changing tides to catch up and reach a wider community for aid and support both locally and internationally.

Indeed, the technology in current times is like the tide that Shakespeare wrote of – that taken at the flood, leads to fortune.

Organizations have no options but to embrace it.

Furthermore, the platforms are changing perceptions as well. Giving is no longer associated with hospital bills, funeral expenses, school fees, and weddings.

Instead, it is emerging as a tool vital for individuals and institutions to explore.

With mobile phone penetration currently at over 100 per cent in the country and over 96 per cent of households owning a mobile money account, digital platforms are indeed bound to be the game-changer in fundraising.

A reflection on digital platforms in the wake of COVID-19 even paints a brighter picture.

At the touch of a button, one can traverse continents; touch hearts, raise funds and support a noble cause.

Could this be the future of fundraising? Could the Harambee exercise be made smarter and more convenient?

Is the conventional Harambee headed to oblivion?

Perhaps yes –though the interpersonal interaction aspect in traditional fundraising cannot be ignored.

M-Pesa, crowdfunding platforms such as M-Changa may not be a surprise to many.

M-Changa has currently already attracted over 46,700 individuals and organizations who have raised millions of shillings from close to a million supporters.

However, it is the ability to transform lives albeit in a small way that often counts.

The Covid 19 pandemic proved that greatness is embedded in simple acts of kindness.

When countries locked down and movements restricted, people still interacted and supported each other.

In Kenya, platforms like M-Changa came to the rescue of many. In 2020, 100 organizations used the platform to raise over Sh20,000,000 in 30 days - a feat that would have been impossible if they had opted for a conventional model of fundraising, according to Kyai Mullei Co-founder and Advisor at M-Changa.

The platform further enables the user to package and share content related to their fundraising in an appealing format, track the origin of the funds that trickle in and even access to customer care support.

Given that digital space is vast, dynamic and convenient, one can only expect more organizations to embrace it.

It takes less time to set up a fundraiser on the platforms compared to convening traditional Harambee.

A case in point is the Giving Tuesday movement that focuses on promoting generosity around the world using technology.

The movement is a day and movement that is centred on radicalizing generosity through ingenious, creative and experimental ways.

The movement accentuates the pillars of philanthropy through its focus on global participation for common good.

The campaign is currently active in over 100 countries across the globe including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda coordinated by the East Africa Philanthropy Network and Foundation for Civil Society coordinating the movement in Tanzania.

In December 2020, Giving Tuesday campaigns in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda had 250 organizations participating and raised USD 4 million.

The funds raised were distributed went to support school fees support for underprivileged children, purchasing of school books, sanitary care products to ensure students were able to resume learning in a safe and healthy environment.

The platforms have also enabled organizations to enhance their online presence and create virtual communities for in-kind support.

Sites like Canva have also emerged presenting nonprofits with platforms for creating content while saving time and money.

Technology, as shown by the emergence of digital platforms continues to shape philanthropy work. It is also turning to be a measure of accountability.

This is why leveraging technology to build stronger efficiency and effective systems; processes and products is a focus area for the 7th East Africa Conference on Philanthropy slated for 7th – 9th September 2021.

The theme of the conference, “Re-engineering Philanthropy” is a call to the philanthropy players in East Africa to redesign its philanthropy processes and systems to improve collaborative efforts and achieve improvement in the sector’s performance and development impact in the East Africa Region.

Okinyi is CEO of the East Africa Philanthropy Network.