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How You Can Use Your Influence to Help

Posted By Laney Galligan 26th of July 2017 Build Community 0 Comments

Today on the blog we have Sarah Rosberg who founded the Australian Headquarters for charity Rafiki Mwema. I’ve interviewed Sarah to get a charity’s perspective on how you can best help them with your influence as a blogger. Sarah’s tips include the kinds of activities you can do that help (with some great examples), how to choose a cause to support and how to overcome some of the challenges of working with a charity.

{trigger warning to child sexual abuse}

LG: Tell us a little about how you started Rafiki Mwema and what it does?

SR: Rafiki Mwema was born from the need to support very young girls in Kenya who have been sexually abused.

Rafiki Mwema is a therapeutic safe house to help these little girls make sense of the horrors that have happened to them; allow them access to any medical treatment they need; support them through the court system; allow access to therapeutic support; and where possible to work with their families for a safe return to the home.

Photo of girls when they were going to close down the house

I worked in Kenya for many years (with another home) and I saw Anne Marie (from Play Kenya) do play therapy with some of the home’s most abused children.  What I witnessed Anne Marie and Play Kenya achieve with their therapy gave me the  utmost respect and admiration for what they were doing.

We stayed in touch for years and one day; about 3 years ago she told me that they had run out of funds for Rafiki Mwema.  I knew closing down this home meant these girls  would have to go into other homes or back to their communities (most filled with huge violence and abuse) and wanted to do what I could to help

I decided to hold an online auction via my business page to raise funds for them. My aim was to raise 2 months’ running costs ($10K) to get them out of trouble.. I asked for people in my online community to donate items that I could auction off.  I had a wonderful response and was able to raise $17K!

My auction banner for FB

This was a great result and it would keep Rafiki out of trouble for 3 months but what would happen then?  I had fallen for the girls while pouring myself into this auction and couldn’t get them out of my head so I considered starting a charity in Australia for Rafiki Mwema to help keep them open long-term.  I had done started a charity  before for another organisation, so I knew how to do it, but with so many other obligations in my life… I DON’T HAVE THE TIME.. but I also realised, I DON’T HAVE A CHOICE.

Our first board meeting!

I started Rafiki Mwema and within 3 months from starting we had all of the girls fully sponsored.  The WWW is an amazing thing most of the time!!

LG: How did you reach out to bloggers to help raise awareness for Rafiki Mwema?

SR: When I was initially looking for help with the auction I was reaching out from my business page (web designer – Castle Design). I knew many bloggers from working over the years, so reached out to my clientele and friends via my Facebook page.

[Laney] It’s worth noting that many larger charities and causes outsource their outreach to agencies. This can be confusing and conflicting for bloggers when they think the agency is being paid by the charity and yet there is no budget for the bloggers. In this case, please remember a) that a PR agency’s principle remit is to get free exposure for their client and is possibly doing it pro bono,  and b) charity is about giving. If you wouldn’t write about a charity unless you were paid to, maybe it’s not the right fit for you.

LG: What do you look for in an “influencer”? Does size matter?

Yes, of course, size does matter (in that the larger the reach the more potential awareness for the charity), but you only need ONE person to make a difference. You could help to reach the ONE person that could change everything. If a blogger came to me wanting to help my charity and they had 100 followers or 100,000 followers, I would treat them the same and welcome them with opens arms. What I look for in an influencer is someone who really cares. Passion and dedication to the cause matters more than audience numbers at the end of the day.

LG: What are the most valuable things bloggers can do to help a charity? What activities have the most impact?

SR: Raising awareness for a charity is invaluable because you never know who could see the information and fall in love with the cause. Bloggers could have an ad for the charity in their sidebar or regularly do shoutouts to their followers or include information in their newsletter.

Letter Campaign

Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim has done many different activities that I just LOVE. Mine and the kids’ favourite campaign has been Letters for my Rafiki where she did a post about our kids in Kenya and how they love getting letters in the mail. She suggested people could write letters and send gifts or donations to them and used a hashtag #lettersformyrafiki. We still get letters in Kenya and it still makes the kids happy each and every time.

Some of our girls with their letters.

Gift Exchange

Another wonderful thing Chantelle has done each year is the gift exchange which is such a fun thing to do.

The Gift Exchange is a really fun, feel-good exercise where I partner people up so they can send on gifts to people they’ve never met before. People make new friends, receive happy mail, and just have a good old time.

On registration people donate $5 (more for accountability) and that comes straight to us for Rafiki Mwema!

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a strange one – it can go either way. We did a crowdfunding campaign with blogger Constance Hall  and we absolutely smashed it. $200K in a matter of weeks ($150K in 1 day!). But, making a crowdfunding campaign successful really does depend on numbers and a reputable cause that has trust. If people looked into Rafiki, they would see the history, the following, the updates and the success stories. They can also see (and call/email) myself and my team so they know it’s legitimate. All these things will make a crowdfunding successful. Constance also has a following unlike many others – they love her and trust whatever she trusts and loves. We are lucky she found her way to us (via one of my sponsors). ONE person can change everything.

LG: What do you think the bloggers you’ve worked with would say are the benefits of helping Rafiki Mwema?

SR: The ONLY benefit of helping Rafiki Mwema is the good feeling of making a difference. Being able to see the change first hand and knowing that was because of YOU. There is no better feeling, and no amount of money or payment could beat that.

LG: How should a blogger go about choosing and approaching a cause to support?

Of course it depends on your love/passion. Mine is children and Kenya. I can’t explain the  Kenya side, but knowing children are suffering, I cannot sit back and do nothing.

Figure out  what your passion is – Animals, Education, Children etc – and then start looking for a charity that helps. It’s pretty easy to look in to a charity and see if they are legitimate. Check their Facebook, Instagram, website and go from there. There are so many charities out there. If you don’t find the one you are passionate about helping, then why don’t you start one? Trust me, if I can do it you can do it!

LG: Are there any barriers, difficulties, negatives that bloggers should be aware of?

SR: Keeping in mind if you help one charity you will get requests to help more (I get asked all the time to help other charities even though I run one myself!).  I have seen this time and time again and huge guilt does come with having to say no.  My suggestion is to find your charity and stick with that one.  You can’t do everything.  I WANT to help everyone out there who needs help but that is impossible.  But what I CAN do is help these 66+ kids in Kenya and I can do it really well. I have to focus on them and just politely decline and explain that it takes all my energy.  You can just say that you have your charity of choice that you support.

If you ever post something that is hard to read it is very important to begin the post with something like a {trigger warning to child sexual abuse}, as relevant to the content.

No doubt you will have some followers who don’t support your cause, or argue with you why you support this cause and not that one. If you are passionate about your cause and why you do support it you will be comfortable with your reply to them.

You will never please everyone and that is not what charity is about.

LG: Do you have any final advice for bloggers?

If anyone would like advice on how to help a charity or even start a charity I would welcome they get in touch with me.

I will continue to fight until the day that I die.  I will speak up about the unspeakable, I will continue to make people uncomfortable and I will always be the voice for the children that the majority of the world has chosen to ignore.

If I can teach my daughter one thing, it would be to honour the wonderful life she has been given by helping those who have not been so lucky.  No matter who they are or who you are, cut us open and we are all the same.

Every single one of us.

Sarah runs a design company called Castle Design as well as Rafiki Mwema.

You can find out more about the work Rafiki Mwema does here. You can also follow their journey on Facebook and Instagram.

 

About Laney Galligan

Laney Galligan is General Manager of ProBlogger and the founder and director of Agents of Influence, a service helping online creatives understand, build and leverage their influence. When she’s not helping people earning a living from their passion (or on Slack with the PB team), you’ll find her on the roller derby track or spinning a hula hoop.

  • Very motivational post. Really it does not matter what is your size, power, medium(matter) or ability but it is totally depend on your enthusiasm and will power. Finland is the county who was leader of the mobile manufacturer for world in the presence of Russia, America, France, Germany and many more country. So you can set the milestone if you want. Nice to read this post, awesome.

  • Hey Laney,

    No doubt that Sarah has struggled to make the lives of many girls beautiful. I agree with her about the size. The size does matter.
    The bigger audience you have, the more are the chances to get the positive results.
    Thanks for this inspirational post.
    ~Ravi

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  • Interesting story. (Why did it take so long to pop up in my blog feed? No idea).

    So many scams have been based in Africa that just the name of anything I recognize as African-and-not-coming-from-my-one-and-only-pen-friend-on-the-continent sets off a “scam alert” bell in my mind. I don’t know how many other people feel this way, but thank you for reminding us that there are legitimate charities everywhere.

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