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.
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.
Where I need help
- The name. What should I call this website?
- Issues to prioritise. I’m thinking to start with 3-4 issues first. What issues are you most angry about?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Any other feedback and support. Anything at all, truly.
- 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.