Running a non-profit has never been an easy task, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made fundraising more challenging. And an organisation’s capacity to fundraise is inevitably and kindredly tied to its ability to be seen.
With a mishmash of different projects in Vietnam and Cambodia ranging from scholarships for schoolchildren, handicraft and quilt production to micro-credit for villagers to start vegetable and livestock farms, the Mekong Delta-based community development organisation Mekong Plus is no stranger to variety.
“Before [the pandemic], we hosted regular boat and bamboo bicycle tours to the provinces where our beneficiaries live,” Bernard Kervyn, Mekong Plus’ founding director, explained, while emphasising the need to migrate this ‘tried-and-tested visibility’ online as the pandemic moves slowly towards becoming endemic.
“We have to be creative and find new ways. One good thing [about the 21st Century] is the internet,” he exclaimed. “I’m dreaming of the day we have 5G in Vietnam!”
One can be quite sure that betting on other odds beyond tourism would likely gain more traction.
New crowdfunding horizons with GIVE.asia
GIVE.asia, a free crowdfunding portal, has given Mekong Plus a new grain of hope in reaching a larger audience on the Internet. From the needy seeking ways to fund hospital bills to community-spirited endeavours that fund humanitarian efforts around the world, Mekong Plus’ array of beneficiary portfolios proved to be a great addition to the portal which is based and developed in Singapore.
“It’s 0% platform fee policy [for non-profits] is something we really appreciate,” Bernard explained.
With images of beneficiaries and campaign displayed intuitively and a dedicated team that verifies the authenticity of each listing, GIVE.asia works hand-in-hand with organisations to spread their mission while gaining trust of potential donors swiftly and effectively.
To date, Mekong Plus has completed more than 30 crowdfunding goals through GIVE.asia.
Going virtual to publicise Mekong Plus’ mission
Besides providing regular updates for beneficiaries and thanking them systematically through e-mail and crowdfunding portals, the Mekong Plus team continue to seek methods that allow donors and friends to feel connected to the project as closely as possible.
Training Mekong Plus’ volunteers and staff members to help them excel at quality documentation has become a core task; good pictures and good videos build confidence in donors.
“We focus on 30 – 40 second video clips… the first 5 seconds of a video is vital,” Bernard reminded.
How Mekong Plus eliminate poverty
Since June this year, Mekong Plus’ team has been hosting weekly Zoom tours of its activities every Saturday afternoon as an alternative to its physical tours during the pandemic. Each tour hosts about 10 visitors and on-location staff are able to answer questions in English while beneficiaries have the chance to relate their thoughts and experiences to a global audience.
“Sharing the experience to our donors and friends remains important,” Bernard related, believing that showing people that poverty can be eliminated helps accelerate efforts.
“People are mostly stuck at home [around the world] and our 1-hour virtual tours can be a great escape [for them]!” He emphasised.
Establishing ties in the business world
Back in the physical world, Mekong Plus has spent the last year and half or so building ties with the business community of Vietnam.
“Two years ago, Mekong Plus was quite unknown [except through Mekong Quilts]. [Then] many people heard about us on Facebook and Linkedin,” Bernard elaborated. The team quickly realised that Linkedin is an important channel to connect NGOs and social organisations with professionals and business entities and groups willing to help.
“Six months ago, we were chosen as the only NGO to be sponsored by a football tournament with the French Chamber [of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam] and raised VND30,000,000.”
Foot for hope tournament organisides by the CCIFV
In the long run, participation in events organised by business associations such as the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam may be time consuming but the resultant connections are often invaluable.
How you can help Mekong Plus
Ultimately, Mekong Plus is seeking ways to establish relationships with regular donors.
“10 euros a month goes a long way, often helping more than one child in the process because VND500,000 is what we propose to keep them in school,” Bernard explained.
Through precise updates and access to cloud folders that allow donors to witness change, Mekong Plus believes that transparency is indispensible.
Currently, Mekong Plus is completing the legal framework that will allow it to conduct fundraisers in the United States as a certified NGO.