EDHI FUNDRAISING- challenging problem solving skills to accept failure

I had heard the word “fundraising” many times, I had seen people posting about ration drives & helping others, I had even seen people raising funds on roads, convincing every passerby to donate ; but I had never truly understood the real essence of this act until I participated in a fundraising activity myself.

Two weeks ago, My team and I were convinced by Amal Academy to voluntarily raise funds for Edhi foundation. We were supposed to carry out the whole activity on our own, having no prior experience whatsoever.

Edhi foundation, named after Mr. Abdul Sattar Edhi, is currently the largest welfare organization in Pakistan. Mr. Edhi started his philanthropic career from a small free dispensary shop which gradually expanded into a network of clinics, adoptions centers, soup kitchens, shelter homes for children & battered women and the list goes on. To this day, the Edhi Foundation continues to grow in both size and service.

How was the experience?

Well, to quote some of my team members “This activity helped me get a closer look at my society and compelled me to think about social welfare by breaking the boundaries which had limited me to work only for my own self from day to night” and “This activity made me realize how difficult it is to collect funds for a social cause and it made me salute and pray for all the welfare organizations who constantly work for other people”

This activity made all of us realize how ignorant we can be about our blessings. It enabled us to be more thankful as we realized that the things that are basic for us can be someone else’s dream. Personally, I felt like I was a part of something way bigger than myself.

What challenges did we face and how did we cope with them?

1- Lockdown: Our first challenge was the lockdown. Due to COVID, it was not possible for us to go out and collect funds physically, and convincing people to send donations digitally was proving to be a hard task.

Strategy: Every member posted a number of different slides on their WhatsApp stories/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn. We also wrote personalized text messages and sent them to our friends/families and other people in our networks. We asked our friends to further circulate the messages within their own networks.

To make our messages even more compelling, we made a few memes and posted videos about charity.

Apart from that, where possible, we reached out to people physically and collected some donations in cash as well. This mainly included donations from our family members and our pocket money.

2- Gaining the trust of the people: Our second challenge was gaining the trust of the people and convincing them that the money they are donating shall be transferred to Edhi foundation.

Strategy: For this purpose one of my team members Nimra, shared that there is an option of sending donations to Edhi directly through Easypaisa/ Jazzcash and mobile bank apps. We took screenshots of the steps to do this and shared these on our stories. We told the people that they can either donate directly to Edhi or they can send it to our accounts, whatever they are comfortable with.

3-Collecting donations from Entities: We were supposed to collect donations from at least two entities/community centers/ organizations or businesses.

Strategy: This proved to be a very difficult task as once again we could not go out and convince people face to face. We tried reaching out to the people within our networks who we knew are running any sort of business. We also reached out to a few schools via emails.

After failing to receive donation from any entity, eventually one of my team members, Daneyal was able to get a donation from a school run by his family. He was also able to get a major donation of 10,000 Rs. from another entity run by his friend.

4- Failure to convince people: We reached out to almost 1500 people, but we were able to get donations from 70 people only. Which is a less than 5% success rate.

Here are the comments of some of my team members :

“After posting about the campaign, I barely received three to four responses. I could see that I had almost 50 views on my status, but no one had reached out to me. I felt rejected and discouraged.”

“My motivation was a challenge for me when I got a rejection by a large number of strangers as well as from my friends and relatives.”

Strategy: We discussed our progress in the group. We told each other that the whole point of this activity is learning to accept failure and that we should keep trying.

5- Maintenance of records: Another challenge was to maintain the records of all the donations that we were getting. There were some people who were sending donations directly to Edhi, while some were sending donations to our accounts. Some of the donors also asked us not to share their names or phone numbers.

Strategy: We maintained centralized records on google sheets. Everyone had access to this sheet and whenever someone got a donation, they updated the file immediately. At the end, as a group leader I asked everyone to forward all the receipts to me. I cross checked all the receipts to the records to ensure that there were no discrepancies. I then edited all the receipts and hid the names and phone numbers of all the donors.

Final Reflections:

We collaborated with another team from our batch IAMHUM. This not only served as an additional source of motivation for all of us, but also gave us an opportunity to strategize with the help of a larger pool of ideas.

We were carrying out this activity during Ramadan, therefore we got some very major donations that people gave as Zakat. Our largest donation was of 25,000 Rs. Along with the donations, we got so many prayers from the people who donated and the whole experience created a deep effect of spirituality all around.

These are only a few of the receipts, eventually we were able to collect 64,000 Rs. within two weeks. (Collectively with IAMHUM the amount was 82,000 Rs. to be exact). This is a huge amount and I am extremely proud of my team for maintaining their productivity throughout the campaign despite the 5:95 success to failure ratio. I believe that we all are concluding this campaign with much stronger, grateful and calmer hearts. I hope that Allah accepts our intents and efforts. Ameen.