An Interview with Matt Roberts-Davies, General Manager of M-Changa – an official partner of the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report.

According to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, there are 6,500+ NGOs registered with the NGOs Coordination Board in Kenya.

1) From the outside, it appears that NGOs in Kenya do not have access to the traditional fundraising services that are so common here in the United States, such as a “Donate” page for processing credit cards and PayPal accounts. Why is that?

Traditionally, NGOs in Kenya have depended on outside support from grant makers and wealthy individuals. As a result, the focus has been writing grant proposals rather than appealing for individual support. Another factor to consider is the limited access and high expense of processing credit cards and PayPal in Kenya compared to the United States.

In the local context, Kenyan’s give an extremely high proportion of their earnings as donations (cc. CAF). However, this type of community giving (known as Harambee in Kiswahili) usually goes towards individuals rather than organisations, common examples include medical bills, funeral costs & weddings. Further, most Kenyans do not use credit cards, instead the majority of the population use mobile payments and cash.

The lack of trust between NGOs and local Kenyans and the expectancy that NGOs are funded from outside Kenya are the key reasons for limited local fundraising towards NGO in Kenya. Given the increasing challenge of obtaining grants, future focused NGOs in Kenya should find ways to incorporate individual giving as part of their fundraising strategy.

2) How do M-Changa’s crowdfunding services fill that void?

M-Changa strives to make it convenient for local NGOs to accept both mobile and card payments. An organisation can register an account on M-Changa and within 5 minutes they’ll have their own web page to accept payments using Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and mobile money. M-Changa also makes it easy for NGOs to account for funds coming in from multiple paymnet channels with automatic reporting and statements. M-Changa has also partnered with GlobalGiving to enable NGOs already of the platform to accept mobile payments.

Other challenges for NGOs receiving payments include security, trust and misuse of funds. M-Changa uses the latest technology and due diligence processes to ensure funds passing through the platform are secure. The platform ensues funds are collected in a transparent way so that anyone interested in giving can also read the fundraisers story and see how much has been raised already. By focusing on projects, NGOs can gain the confidence of donors by keeping them updated on how funds are to be used.

Finally, M-Changa seeks to build trust from both local and international donors. By establishing trust, M-Changa can assist NGOs in Kenya to raise more funds and therefore achieve more.

3) Kenyan data from the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report is very unique in that 42% of Kenyan donors say the prefer to give cash and 26% prefer to give via mobile payment. By far, those two stats are higher than any other country surveyed. Please explain the role of cash and mobile payments, particularly M-Pesa, in individual giving in Kenya.

Mobile payments are more accessible and convenient than card payments. This is because the process to open a bank account is very tedious in comparison to getting a sim card and adding cash through a local M-Pesa agent. Because there are many more M-Pesa agents than ATM machines, mobile payments are the leading way people send money to both people and businesses.

4) What is your best piece of fundraising and online communication advice for Kenya NGOs when it comes to raising money through crowdfunding?

Fundraising is never easy, but NGOs who take a long term view of crowdfunding can achieve self-sustainability. The following advice can help an NGO move away from constantly seeking grant funding by building a constant inflow of funds from individuals:

  1. Plan you crowdfunding campaigns early – what will you raise funds for, how will the funds be spent, plan your media campaign including a compelling story and images/videos
  2. Map your network including who you will invite, how you will reach them and how much you will ask for
  3. Focus on building relationships first, fundraising is different to begging, you must offer value to the person giving
  4. Fundraise for a specific project, knowing exactly how funds are going to be used will encourage individuals to donate
  5. The decision to give is primarily emotional – create an emotional appeal by telling a story that allows the reader to empathize with the main character
  6. Constantly update your supporters, especially after the campaign ends – if you do this consistently, you will gain trust and your crowd will grow over time
  7. Be positive in the way you tell your story and give dignity to the characters – people giving out of guild will only give once, but those giving out of generosity can become long term supporters
  8. Involve the entire team in the fundraising effort – everyone from the cleaner to the director should be involved in giving and raising funds for the campaign

5) What you like the world to know about how NGO fundraising is developing in Kenya? How do you see it evolving over the next 10 years?

NGOs are starting to see the importance of technology and the opportunity technology brings.

NGOs will likely incorporate crowdfunding into their fundraising strategy on a much larger scale than we can see today.

NGOs offering transparency and innovative solutions are likely going to be the ones which survive, whilst traditional and bureaucratic NGOs are unlikely to last long term without looking for more innovative ways to operate.

Matt Roberts-Davies is the General Manager of M-Changa – a donations-based crowdfunding platform based in Kenya. M-Changa has assisted 28,000 projects to raise $5 million from 350,000 contributors since 2013.

Matt first learned about crowdfunding when he was raising funds to volunteer in Southeast Asia in 2012. He later joined in San Francisco, a crowdfunding platform which has raised over $1 billion to entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2015 he moved to Kenya, working to advance microfinance efficiency through technology.

Seeing the limitations of microfinance, Matt sought alternative financial solutions to improve financial access across Africa. Matt joined M-Changa in May 2017, the bootstrapped platform has since achieved profitability and seeks to expand beyond Kenya. Matt believes that donations and rewards based crowdfunding platforms are just the starting point for crowdfunding across Africa, he’s also involved in establishing crowdfunding for investment across Africa.

Giving Trends in Kenya:
2018 Global Trends in Giving Report

 42% of donors in Kenya prefer to give cash, 26% via mobile payments, 18% via text message, 6% online, (credit/debit card), and 3% via PayPal.
 11% are enrolled in a monthly giving program.
 54% prefer to be thanked for their donations by email, 20% via text message, 9% by phone call, 7% by print letter, and 6% by social media message.
12% donated on #GivingTuesday 2017, 36% did not. 52% have never heard of #GivingTuesday.
 39% of donors in Kenya give tribute gifts. The top three occasions are birthdays (31%), graduation (17%), and memorials (17%).
 63% donate to crowdfunding campaigns that benefit individuals. The top three causes are medical expenses (54%), disaster relief (12%), and education costs (12%). Of those that give to crowdfunding campaigns, 24% say that they give less to NGOs due to their financial support of crowdfunding campaigns.
61% are more likely to donate if they are offered a free gift in exchange for their donation.
 18% create online peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns to benefit organizations.
20% give to organizations located outside of their country of residence.
67% donate in response to natural disasters.
14% have charitable giving in their last will and testament.
57% of donors in Kenya are more likely to trust organizations that use the .org domain extension for website and email communications.
42% are most inspired to give by social media, email (16%), and TV ads (15%). Of those inspired by social media, Facebook (47%) has the largest impact, then Instagram (23%) and Twitter (20%).
7% have donated directly to an organization using Facebook Fundraising Tools. Of those, 100% said they are likely to donate through Facebook again.
78% of donors in Kenya volunteer. 78% attend fundraising events. 38% attend marches or protests. 83% regularly vote. 60% sign online petitions.

About the Donors ✦ 103 donors whose top 5 causes are children and youth (23%), hunger and homelessness (15%), women and girls (12%), health and wellness (11%), and education (8%). 63% are female, 37% are male. 68% are Millennials, 18% Gen Xers, and 12% are Gen Zers. 72% are micro-donors, 25% small, and 3% mid-size donors.

Based on the survey results of 6,057 donors worldwide, the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report summarizes donor data across six continents about how online and mobile technology effects giving. The report also examines the impact of gender, generation, ideology, religion, and donor size upon giving and volunteerism.