Question: I work for a humanitarian/developmental organisation. My 13 years experience in this sector has made clear that Nigerians don’t give to charity, while multinationals which operate in the country tend to perceive Nigeria as just good enough for their businesses (Most of these seldom give also). This goes on while the country is full of extremely poor communities, without basic social amenities. I am aware of many communities in parts of Nigeria without a single primary school, healthcare centre, sources of potable water. This is in spite of so many rich people here who seem not to know how to put their excess monies into good use. How can this agency promote its activities in order to convince Nigerians that a little token will go a long way in changing the lives of many rural poor here? – Geraldine Kumba.
Your organisation should not give up on efforts intended to make the two stated categories of likely donors start being selfless, and give to the needy. It is obvious that a significant number of the very rich (often tagged ‘money bags’) tend to give financial support or make donations towards projects that would only yield a form of status enhancement. Who doesn’t know what chieftaincy titles and awards being bandied all over the place portend these days? Not really selflessness. This is why some of us hold strongly to the view that, in this clime any philanthropic gesture with an eye on press cameras is not real, but showmanship.
Why blame multinationals who operate in Nigeria if they fall short of your expectation towards giving ‘helping hand’ to the underprivileged? These have cause to wonder why millions of people in the country wallow in poverty, communities clamour for schools, and other basic facilities, while the country yields more than two million barrels of crude oil daily, remains the sixth largest exporter of the same product in the world, and boasts of abundant human and materials resources.
Where Nigerians shy away from assisting the needy within their domain, why shouldn’t corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts of these organisations be perceived as having strings attached? While we should not overlook that these firms are here for one thing – Profit, the saying that, “charity begins at home” applies too.
Activities of humanitarian organisations (most of which are international concerns) became quite prominent with the advent of democracy in Nigeria in 1999. With the operational headquarters here of more than 80 percent of them presently located in Abuja, one remains inclined to commend their activities towards enriching the lives of Nigerians (bridging some gaps) where governments have not lived up to billing. For better understanding, I crave your indulgence to allow me briefly enlighten readers about what your sector is all about.
A humanitarian or developmental organisation, often referred to as Aid Agency, is an organisation dedicated to distributing aids or assistance. Many of such exist both with governments, and between governments as multilateral donors, and even as private voluntary organisations or non-governmental organisations. Aid can be subdivided into humanitarian aid and developmental aid, aimed at helping countries to achieve long term sustainable economic growth with the intension of achieving poverty reduction. A dictionary defines ‘Humanitarian’ as “Having concern for the welfare of people – Person who promotes human welfare”.
Geraldine, I urge your organisation to deviate from any programme or campaign directed at instigating prospective donors generally. Luwih, your agency should adopt a ‘target marketing’ strategy directed at ‘specific’ rich individuals and corporations, to support your efforts at making them ‘give a little’ to change lives of needy Nigerians, through community development programmes listed for your implementation. These ‘targeted’ efforts should be applied from two dimensions – (a) Donor support, lan (b) Non-profit organisation marketing efforts.
Donor support: – Without delving into fund raising strategy, to incur favourable disposition of whosever your agency intends to approach (as likely favourable source of raising fund for your ‘identified’ programme), note the relevance of these as elements of attracting interest of donors:
(i) Media exposure – Endeavour to have at least some exposure on what your programme is all about in the media. Please feel free to reach me on strategy for this, as I’m constrained by space here. Prospective donors are likely to be spurred on if your organisation is dealing with a well known issue.
(ii) Social or political tie – Identify with prospective donors that are known to have political or social connections with the environment where beneficiaries of your programme are located. Most ‘money bags’ would like to be seen as ‘giving a helping hand’ to people in their area.
(iii) Ability to lobby – Your agency should possess what it takes to lobby and convince targeted prospective donors to say ‘Yes’ to your attempts.
Non-profit organisation marketing efforts: – Shifting from the usual perception of marketing featuring in this regard as making sales or obtaining donations, a Social Marketing approach should be adopted. This implies the development of programmes designed to influence acceptability of social idea, and in this case, structures (e.g. schools, potable water, health facilities). Your agency is likely to make more impact if it adopts those aspects of non-business organisation marketing strategy that entail promotional decisions. Your organisation’s programmes have to be well known for prospective donors to be encouraged.
Marketing input in this regard should be hinged on specific programmes or products attractive to entities your agency intends to approach for assistance. These include, Direct mail (quite significant in fund raising); Personal selling (exemplified by the activities of personnel, though tagged differently here – Programme adviser, programme specialist, programmes officer, volunteers); Advertising and Public Relations or PR (for enhancement of awareness through the media); Sales Promotion (e.g. special events, drama, music concert, all aimed at stimulating interest, create awareness for fund raising); Public Service Announcements or PSAs (e.g. advertising agencies can donate time and creativity, as media organisations can also donate air-time and space, as part of support for the needy).
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