SFEB18

Critique My Business Idea – Fundraising Platform for NGOs

Fundraising platform for NGOs

As a Malaysian, I love this country. I love it so, so much.

But there are also many things we can improve on. We could have been better than Singapore. It’s the slow, sometimes even backwards progress that makes us angry, annoyed, bitter. We feel helpless about many issues. We have the preconceived notion that even if we do something about it, nothing much will change. So what do we do? We complain.

I’m sick of complaining and hearing complaints. I want to do something to improve our country, and I need your help. This is my idea and I’d love to get your feedback on it.

The idea – a Fundraising Platform for NGOs and Associations

There are many NGOs and associations in Malaysia. You might be part of one or a few of them as well. Formed by concerned citizens who are sick of complaining, they choose to do something about the issues they care about. They talk to MPs. They distribute food to the hungry. They rescue animals. They organise events to raise awareness.

However, we all know many NGOs have seen their funds dry up in the last few years. Resources from the Malaysian government are scarce (and full of restrictions), while public donations are dwindling. All of us feel the higher cost of living, all of us are tightening our belts.

Without funds, those issues are nowhere near being solved. And I don’t know about you, but I’d really like to avoid growing old in a nation that can’t solve its problems.

How NGOs do fundraising

Before becoming a self-employed content creation and management consultant (aka freelance writer), I worked in a few NGOs. Some of the ways we raised money to do programmes:

  • Getting grants and funding from governments or other bodies like the United Nations
  • Organising events like gala dinners and stuff
  • Selling products and services
  • CSR activities with for-profit companies
  • Private donations

Except for the last one, everything else was hella time-consuming to organise. It took so much man peoplepower, so much time. Energy that can be better used to, you know, work on the actual freaking issue.

Private donations are much more straightforward, but they tend to be sporadic, based on whims. Some NGOs also work with agencies that do fund-raising on their behalf. That’s good, except some of them take as much as 50% of the donations received as their share!

I want to make the donations more constant, with the bulk of the money actually going to the NGOs. I want to create a platform where we Malaysians can donate directly to NGOs or towards issues we care about.

Of course, that idea is hardly revolutionary. But what’s new is the emotional prompt I want to use. Right now, many NGOs rely on the people’s pity to get donations. I want us to donate not out of pity, but out of anger. 

clickphoto / Pixabay

How it works

What issues anger you?

In my research stage, I’ve gotten so many answers. Some of them:

  • I’m angry at rampant corruption
  • I’m angry at how Malaysian dogs are treated
  • I’m angry at how sexual and gender minorities are discriminated
  • I’m angry at religious authorities
  • I’m angry there are hungry Malaysian students who can’t afford food
  • I’m angry at how we continue to destroy the environment
  • I’m angry that endangered animals are dying out and not enough is done to protect them
  • I’m angry that people and companies actually steal the lands of Orang Asli
  • I’m angry that funding for the Malaysian arts scene is scarce

Those are just some of them. There are more issues out there, so many of them. All of them have NGOs and associations behind the scenes, working to solve those issues.

So imagine you’re angry. Red-hot angry. You could have just read a report or article about yet another case of abuse, and you feel – dammit – helpless. Like always. Correct me if I’m wrong, but many of us feel like this at least a few times a year.

And you came across my platform, basically telling you that HEY, YOU MAD IS IT? This NGO is working to solve this exact issue! Donate now to solve it faster! We’ll do awareness-raising and lobbying and shit on your behalf!

Would you donate, if you can afford it and the donation process is easy?

Exactly. You’d donate because you WANT to feel like you’re doing something and you WANT to be part of the solution. NGOs get your money, and they get to continue their work. Win-freaking-win. 

The platform’s business model

I’m thinking to set it up as a business, with 95% of the revenue going to the NGOs and the remaining 5% to go back to operations and scaling up the platform so it can include more issues. Users will be informed that the 5% will go towards the platform, because transparency matters. Those agencies that take up to 50% of donations received on behalf of NGOs and never tell you about it – they can suck it.

I guess I can do it as a social enterprise as well, but I want as many resources as possible – lots of articles, guides, general help and support are for businesses.

If I allocate RM10,000 as initial capital – to buy the domain name, hosting, website design, tools, advertisement, accounting, etc – and hope to break even in a year, I would need to raise RM200,000 in a year, or RM16.7k in a month. That is an average of 333 people donating RM50 each per month. Too early to tell, but I think that’s doable. Both one-off and recurring subscription donation models will be offered.

I also plan to put a disclaimer, essentially saying ‘do not donate if you can’t afford it – help in other ways instead’ or something like that. At no point I want you to be broke for the causes. Help yourself first.

geralt / Pixabay

Where I need help

  1. The name. What should I call this website?
  2. Issues to prioritise. I’m thinking to start with 3-4 issues first. What issues are you most angry about?
  3. Which NGOs. Please suggest NGOs and associations that need funding the most. I’d really appreciate it if you guys who do volunteer work can answer this – you know best whether the funds were utilised well or not by those NGOs.
  4. The website. I can do the content and digital marketing, but I need help with website design. I can outsource this out, but open to partnering up with the right person. Any of you can suggest anyone passionate in social work and good at designing websites with great UI/UX?
  5. Flaws. I’m in love with this idea, and that makes me blind to the flaws. Can you help me point them out, please? I want to make it as good as possible!
  6. Connections. Can you connect me with any mentors who can help me in any way? Particularly those who are good at digital marketing and UI/UX planning.
  7. Tools. What tools will be helpful for this project? The website will use WordPress and iPay88 or something to receive the money. I still need to figure out how to automate sending the funds to NGOs.
  8. Any other feedback and support. Anything at all, truly.
  9. Or just keep updated about this idea. Sign up for Ringgit Oh Ringgit’s newsletter, at the end of this article. When there are updates, I’ll let you know.

Let’s make Malaysia better, you guys. Let’s not give up on the country. Despite all the shit that’s going on, it’s still tanah tumpahnya darahku. I refuse to be negative about our country’s future, and I hope you are not, too. Super looking forward to your thoughts.

EDIT: It turns out that something like this (minus the anger) does exist. Introducing NGOHub.asia, a crowdfunding platform for NGOs. I have no plans to turn this into a competition.  If you’ve felt something while reading this, awesome, let’s put thoughts into action. Please support them instead and donate generously. RM10 seems like a good start.

 

Author

14 comments

  1. Hi Suraya! 😀 I’m a junior front-end web developer, which means i work on the part of the website where users can see and interact (UI/UX), not the back-end part (functionalities). I also have experience in setting up domain, hosting and WordPress. I would really love to be a part of this and I could be a big help. =) For starter, you can imagine how your website would look like, for example:
    1. Single page or Multi page
    2. What will be on the Home Page
    2. Any functionalities or widgets
    3. Page categories
    and so on…
    Better yet if you can provide some examples of websites you came across that caught your eyes so we can know what you are looking for.
    Do let me know if you have any other questions regarding your website or anything about this platform.

    p.s., I’m not in any web design company or working as freelance, I just sincerely want to help. Cheers! =D

    1. Hi Parween, thanks for your offer! Very kind of you to help out 🙂 Good questions – let me think about the page design and get back to you via email ya

  2. Wow. Big idea and tasks ahead. Love your commitment.

    I can help setup a proof of concept website with the Give plugin (givewp.com). I would be happy to adopt this as my company’s CSR project too. Ping me and we can discuss further.

  3. Hey Suraya, I had this idea for gathering donations late last year. The idea is, instead of asking for a big lump sum from one person, you ask for very little, like RM1. More people will be willing to part with RM1, and it’s focused on reaching more people. Most wouldn’t mind donating RM1 to charity X,Y, and Z, and can make it a regular thing. But it adds up when a lot of people are doing it at the same time. My initial idea was in the form of an app, where you browse through the organizations you want to help out, and just give RM1. Would be powerful when there’s volume. Hope this ideas inspires you somehow 🙂

    1. Hey Adelyn,

      Thanks for your suggestion 🙂 To be honest, I’d rather focus on higher amounts. Planning to do targeting to affluent individuals via adwords etc. That would give higher ROI. Volume is hard to get without a big budget.

      But, haven’t tested this theory so don’t know whether it’ll work as planned. Will definitely tweak as I go along 🙂

      1. I did an experiment to fish out empty talkers from a group. Asking RM1 (100% into the NGO) from a group of privileged people (professionals with min high 4 digit pay) for a purpose that everyone was discussing and agrees and what I get was 3 response out of 150. Getting people to part the money is the hardest. The amount is secondary.

        1. This project will test my sales copy skills so, so much. So excited to run experiments to see which copies get more contributions.

  4. Hi Suraya,

    I’ve been indulged in so many of your articles (binge-reading extent) Really thank you for your sharing 🙂

    I can probably share a bit of my donation experience. 2 things that got me into signing up for recurring donation of about 3% of my take home salary (that’s like 1 week lunch costs for me) last year are:
    a. to the cause that I truly support (all the stories in their social media, website and having close friends working on the cause drive me to pledge to do so)
    b. tax exemption status of the organisation that I support – incentives work, rather pay them than more tax.
    Have since got at least 1 friend to join me in this habit.

    In the process of de-cluttering my stuff, I sell off my unwanted usable items on 2nd hand websites to donate more.

    Like your idea and hope I can channel my future donations to your platform 🙂

    1. Hi Denise,

      Thanks for your nice comments, they made me happy 🙂

      I’d love to make it as win-win as possible and get as much tax exception/tax relief benefits built in! Thanks for the reminder. Look forward to your support when this platform is up!

  5. Hey Suraya,

    If I may suggest , another way to get contribution is Loyalty Card.
    I heard that Bonuslink do allow card members to pledge all their bonus points to charity, ophanage and many other groups.
    This way people are not pressured to part their money but just their loyalty point which they might not use and will be wasted if the points expires. then on your side you probably can deal with these company on what u can do with the loyalty point you receive. Maybe exchange for petrol, sundries or everyday needs.
    There are so many Loyalty cards out there..IF LUCKY.. maybe Airasia will even encourage their members to pledge their “BIG” loyalty points.
    Loyalty Points can be just 1sen per point but look at the volume long run. Best of Luck to you. I totally agree with you that as Malaysians we must do something..Dare to Change to see our Beautiful Malaysia well again.

  6. Hi Suraya, there is a new technology created by the world of cryptocurrency called a smart contract. I think that a smart contract can solve most problems faced by today’s Corporation-Controlled Schemes.
    Here’s a video about smart contract:

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