It was only when pictures of flood victims beating up Faisal Kapadia and Awab Ali circulated on the social media that a tremendous inflow of funds entered their bank accounts. The money flew in from all over the world.
“In our first year , we managed to raise $317,000, the tipping point of our fundraising drive being the pictures our photographer managed to capture. Our inexperience got the better of us, and without any prior preparation we left for Sukkur with 400 food packets,” said Kapadia, a blogger and entrepreneur who helped launch the fundraising campaign with the SA Relief, a disaster relief organisation.
The people who had been hungry for days attacked them and this is what touched the people’s heart.
In a session titled “Connecting Ideas, People and Capital” on the last day of Social Media Mela 2012, Kapadia, Saba Gul and Jeremy Higgs discussed their experiences as social media activists.
Higgs, representing the NOWPDP, an NGO working for the rights of the disabled, said storytelling through the social media about issues helped attract donations.
“It is constantly updating your Facebook page that ensures transparency. People should know what is happening to their money and how it is creating an impact.”
He said to collect funds, it was important to send personalised emails to your fans. “You might have 5,000 fans on your page, but it is sending each fan a personalised e-mail requesting for donations, which has worked for me the most.” The panellist suggested that in order to raise funds, an idea had to go viral.
Gul, director of Bliss, an organisation which helps rural women design handicraft and bags, said, “Your idea has to be very sticky.”
She shared a very interesting campaign in this regard called , “Who gives a crap”, in the United States, which was used to built toilets in developing countries. The website sold toilet paper to raise funds. “The idea became viral after the video of a man sitting on a toilet seat was shown on their website. He refused to get up till $50,000 were raised. And people responded because they wanted to get him off the seat.”
Kapadia agreed. “One of our pictures, a young girl running merrily with a loaf of bread was picked up by the BBC and the CNN. After that, the business community got involved and money began rolling.”
And Gul had more advice for potential social media activists. “Be nice to your fans. Give them small rewards, for example a free bag after a certain amount of fund is raised. It keeps the whole experience interactive.”