A Donkey’s Tale

Most of you will probably be wondering how this title fits in with the spirit of our recent posts.  Bear with me – I don’t have the writing talent you have all come to know and love from Chris. Also full disclosure – this will be a somewhat longer post than you are used to!

Mobile Mini Circus for Children

Those of you reading this who know me or have seen my facebook feed will know that beyond my sharing of posts related to FieldWorks my second-most shared passion topic is about a small Afghan organisation called the Mobile Mini Circus for Children. I had the opportunity to work with them back in my Kabul days in 2011 when we jointly put together a programme to run child friendly spaces in displacement camps around the city. What attracted me to them back then were many of the same qualities you will have seen about the organisations we’ve presented these past four weeks;

  • a hugely dedicated team of people achieving incredible results on shoestring budgets;
  • activities that kids love to engage with and which instil a huge sense of purpose and community within each individual;
  • staff that have joined the team after growing up taking part in the MMCC programmes and believed strongly enough in the impact it had on them that they wanted to be part of the mission to share it with others;
  • an organisation that is as structurally sounds and well-managed as any UK or US charity of similar size;
  • and last but by no means least, an approach that is grounded in a pedagogy that today is gaining international recognition as a leading method to helping children deal with the trauma of displacement and violence.

In the spirit of sharing with all of you some of the great local organisations we have had the opportunity to meet, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to also tag on a shout-out to MMCC.

To me at least, they represent one of the atoms that led to the “big bang” for the FieldWorks idea. Knowing them from the inside out for so many years, and having watched them achieve so much with what we had begun together back in 2011, made it difficult to understand why they would have to struggle to generate the support they need to do what they do so well against so many odds. FieldWorks was created to tangibly alleviate this struggle. But I deviate, since you already know this…

The challenge of being

A while ago MMCC was running a fundraising campaign on a well known fundraising site.  It required local organisations to tick a number of requirements in order to guarantee that they were capable of managing funds raised on the site. Alongside the MMCC campaign was that of an Afghan animal charity raising money for donkeys neglected by a society that once prized them for their work. By the end of the fundraising period the animal charity had more than achieved its desired objective, whilst MMCC had managed to almost reach its own objective.

I know that success on such sites depends on a large range of factors, and I want to make clear that I make no judgement on the merits of one organisation vs the other.

The reason I tell this story is for the fact that, to me, it so clearly illustrates so much about the difficulties faced by organisations like the ones FieldWorks works with. The cause, the way it is portrayed, the perception of ‘helplessness’ of those being helped – and therefore the degree of dependence on the donation made, the network of dedicated supporters, and the number of ‘early donations’ to set a trend… All these are things that most online fundraising specialists will tell you are crucial to the success of a campaign.

With great power comes great responsibility

And everything boils down to one constant; you the ‘donor’. Ultimately it is your engagement that drives all these requirements. Your interest in the cause; your willingness to read through the story; your perception of feeling that your contribution will go to something worthy; the satisfaction you derive from making the donation; your willingness to take 2min to share the post with a meaningful text that will engage those who know you; your choice to take a leap of faith early on in a campaign even if momentum hasn’t already been built by the number of other donations that have been made.

I wonder sometimes if we really recognise the importance of the responsibility we have when we make a choice to donate to charity. Because it really is much more than just a donation that we make as a one off gesture. What it is really about is the way we chose to engage.

I wonder sometimes, in a world where all things being equal, if a kids campaign could be as successful as that of donkeys. On most days I think not. Donkeys after all are far more helpless – kids have their parents/family to take care of them – and therefore more in need of the help of a kind stranger. They make for a more compelling story (“once the work-horses (no pun-intended) of the community, now abandoned in a harsh environment“). Or at least for a story with a twist, something that we don’t hear every day that spikes our senses otherwise dulled by 24hr news cycles. I already see my family and friends roll their eyes at this point and ask the logical question: “why then do FieldWorks?

Because… Hope

As much as I moan about humanity, I do deep down believe that we are capable of doing great things that benefit all – both kids and donkeys! Its hard these days to hold onto that belief. But I hope that a few of you who have followed these posts over the past 23 days will be inspired to pick up the cause of one of the organisations you’ve encountered here. Even if its not one of these organisations I hope that whoever you do choose, you don’t just donate and metaphorically walk away.  I hope you share what the cause means to you with others in whatever way makes sense to you. And over the course of 2018 that you return to their websites, facebook or instagram pages and follow up on what they are doing. Because change doesn’t happen overnight and your donation will need to be followed up at some point.

Before I end, I return to where i started off.  If you liked what you see about MMCC, they are running a winter campaign right now for another 9 days.  You can donate to them here and even if you don’t donate, take a look anyway. They’re currently just under 50% funded. Please do help them reach and even surpass their modest 5k goal.

 

I wish you all a very merry christmas & I hope these posts were useful in helping guide your giving this Christmas season.

 

For 2018 I hope that you all find a cause that you choose to be part of, because it really is an incredible thing to be part of something where you actually have a chance to build a relationship with those on the other end of the line.

 

Federico

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