“Dear volunteers, come to Africa with an open heart and an open mind”
This week we have met the team of DoGood Africa. I call them the ‘smiling face of the African NGOs’. Unlike most nonprofits and charities in Africa, they don’t use desperate images in photography to gain empathy and contributions from donors. There are only smiling and hopeful faces on their Instagram pages. We talked to the team of DoGood Africa about their photo choices, difficulties of funding projects, volunteering in Africa, and many more.
Can you briefly tell us about DoGood Africa?
DoGood.Africa is a registered non-profit organization resolute in its purpose to address the abject challenges faced by the most vulnerable communities in Africa. We partner with vetted Social Ventures to support their projects with fundraising efforts and technical skills, through DoGood.Africa’s strategic resource partnerships. It is DoGood.Africa’s priority to achieve this in the most transparent, efficient and impactful manner possible. We are committed to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) objectives for Africa.
Contrary to common attitudes of NGOs, you use positive human images. Not desperate and miserable people… Is there a special reason for your choices?
DoGood.Africa focuses on social impact in underserved communities, where community members benefit from resources contributed to sustainable projects. The photos we share of beneficiaries are mostly from the post-implementation phase, to demonstrate the scale of impact the project has made in the selected communities. The beneficiaries are usually thrilled about such impact, so we feel it necessary to share their joy with stakeholders, and to encourage support for future projects in other underserved communities.
What kind of responsibilities do your volunteers have?
The DoGood.Africa community supports one or more of our five main teams . Volunteers are assigned to teams based on their skills and interests. These teams include Resource Mobilization; Projects; Legal & Compliance; Communications; Human Resources.
“It's more difficult for responsible organizations to get a fund”
What are the difficulties of funding projects in Africa? For instance, is it possible to get funds for an ordinary local (registered) NGO?
In this day and age, it is difficult getting funding anywhere in the world. Then when you consider the governance and transparency challenge Africa faces, it is even more difficult for responsible organizations to get a clear justification to fund these projects. It is also important to recognize that we are dealing with communities where there is minimal structure, so guaranteeing sustainable impact becomes the next hurdle. That is however only half of the problem. The other side of the challenge is ensuring that the NGOs seeking funding have done the necessary vetting, have put a robust community-centric strategy in place, and most importantly have the right project management structure in place, all to minimize the risk of another failed intervention. This is where DoGood.Africa’s role comes in, attempting to bridge the several gaps that often trip these interventions. If we do our job right, we will get all stakeholders to the common ground required to have the desired effect for the beneficiaries. If we cannot find that right mix of key ingredients, then perhaps the intervention is not the right one for the community in the first place.
How about crowdfunding? Do you have any success stories with crowdfunding as DooGood Africa?
Our projects so far have been funded through crowdfunding. The DoGood.Africa community uses its wide network of well-meaning family and friends to raise funds. We rely on the community to generate the noise in their networks, to donate whatever amount they can until we reach our funding goal set for the project. Our pilot project, “EmpowerMakoko” raised over $6,000 through crowdfunding, ten percent more than our target. Other projects like the “COVID-19 Emergency Food Response Project” in Shomolu, Lagos, also surpassed its fundraising goal of $4,000, all through crowdfunding.
How do you ensure financial transparency when you run the projects with charity?
DoGood.Africa’s crowdfunding platform is built to ensure all donations are shown in real-time. All projects on our platform include the breakdown of needs, the number of beneficiaries being targeted, and how the funds will be distributed to meet the requirement. We operate an intentionally transparent system that shows the journey of funds for a project, from the point they go live on our platform through to when the projects are executed. The subsequent projects reports are also published on our website, for donors to evaluate how the funds have been spent and the impact made to the communities.
Two active projects
Can you briefly mention the ongoing social impact projects of DoGood Africa?
There are currently 2 active projects on our platform seeking to raise funds. We also have a strong pipeline of social impact initiatives bothe (covid-19 and non-covid related projects) we will be launching soon. The active projects include:
#Tech4Charity Project: In partnership with Gracit Technological Foundation, we are looking to provide more technology access to children in orphanages. This project is aimed at bridging the digital and technological skill gap experienced by children in orphanages as the help orphanages receive does not include technological education. #Tech4Charity will benefit the children by providing them with equal employment opportunities with counterparts, using their improved digital skills, and further reduce the crime rate perpetrated by unemployed adult orphans in our communities. This project will contribute to the following UN SDGs: Quality Education; and Reduced Inequalities.
#EmpowerKatampe (Education in Bottles Initiative): Working with Aid for Rural Access Education Initiative (AREAi), we have kick started a pilot project in Abuja (although construction was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic), to build alternative educational facilities using plastic PETbottles to erect the structures. The #EmpowerKatampe project is the pilot of the Education in Bottles Initiative, which is to be carried out in several locations across Nigeria. #EmpowerKatampe will provide empowerment opportunities for youth, children and women who have little or no access to traditional methods of education. The beneficiaries will develop their cognitive skills, soft skills and vocational skills to add value to themselves and the economy in which they are found. This project will contribute to the following UN SDGs: Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, and Climate Action.
Other projects in the pipeline include plans aimed at providing scholarship opportunities to children affected by the insurgency in North-East Nigeria, constructing sustainable modular housing for the homeless, setting up clearing houses to settle emergency needs of vulnerable houses led by single mothers amongst others.
How has the pandemic affected your work, have you followed a different strategy in this process?
Our operating model as an organisation was built for a time like this, DoGood.Africa is run 100% remotely. As a 21th century foundation, we are always seeking the best ways to leverage technology to ensure the organization runs in a seamless and efficient manner. This means utilizing electronic platforms for all internal communications and cloud storage for our data management. We also maintain a workforce of committed volunteers, home and abroad, who set aside time from their other commitments/roles to deliver on their responsibilities to our Foundation.
To speak to our impact work, the story has been more encouraging, the pandemic has seen several civil society actors respond with initiatives/palliatives to support underserved communities and the vulnerable as well as increased commitment for corporates and philantraphist committing significant resources to good causes, mostly to combat the global pandemic.
We are greatly encouraged by the global awakening to the plight of vulnerable communities and we as a foundation focused on improving lives and communities through project-based interventions, will continue to seek out game-changing interventions to help combat the adverse effect of the pandemic across African communities, starting in Nigeria.
“Go to all countries in Africa with an open heart and an open mind”
What are your suggestions to people who will come here as a civil society worker?
I, personally will always remind those that come to Africa to remember that difference is not inherently wrong. Culturally, there are patterns, commonalities, and gestures throughout the continent that civil workers might find distinct from that of the western cultures. Just because they are different doesn’t mean they are inferior (despite what Western culture has tried to indoctrinate us with for the past 500+ years). Go to all countries in Africa with an open heart and an open mind.
What are the essentials of social work practice in vulnerable groups especially for Africa?
The very essence of social work practice in Africa is to create sustainable development that contributes to ending extreme poverty in the continent. DoGood.Africa’s objective is to improve lives and communities across Africa, by supporting the implementation of social impact projects, with the aim of contributing to sustainable development in Africa. These projects are implemented in vulnerable communities with 3 key priorities in mind, sustainability, scalability and economic impact. Of us these are the essentials to making significant contributions to social work across the continent.
Do you have specific difficulties in doing social work in Africa?
We understand there are several challenges for social workers in Africa, some of these challenges led us to setting up identifying our mode of intervention. We noticed a lack of funding for grassroot social impact projects and significant talent gaps in the social work space. This led us to designing our interventions to focus on contributing fundraising and technical support to social impact initiatives to ensure successful implementation.
Another challenge is that most grassroot foundations are not duly registered although possessing clarity on their social impact interventions. There is also lack of transparency and adequate internal corporate governance procedures. We intend to launch an accelerator in the coming years to address these challenges, as support unregistered foundations through incorporation and setting up resistant operating models and corporate governance.