Friday, 15 November 2013

Moving Forward...

It's been quite a week for me - I spent a huge amount of time working on information management for the Philippines Typhoon (you can read about those exploits here) and was struck at how amazing it would have been to have Give Aid Direct at a scale that we could have been more involved.  I've heard a lot of stories of devastation, but also great stories of hope, which I would love to get behind more.

In addition to shifting through thousands of tweets and datapoints, we've been able to secure a few new projects that are now on the website and some more to come, which is fabulous.  I pitched the idea of Give Aid Direct to the Impact Den - you can read about that here and here.  I've also submitted a proposal to the new WFP innovation fund which would allow us to scale up our concept significantly. Oh and I also submitted an application to be part of Filanthrophy Star.

Next week more projects and applications to Bulldog Trust among others...

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Impact Den Results are in...

Last night, I pitched the Give Aid Direct idea to the Impact Den at HUB Westminster and came 2nd in audience voting.  Not a bad showing as it was the first time I pitched in such a manner - 3 minute pitch followed by questions from "dragons" and the audience.  It's a shame I didn't win as the winner received significant marketing help, which is what we need at the moment.

A huge thanks to those of you who came out to cheer me on - Hannah, Tennille, Wayne, Indira, Alesh - it was hugely appreciated.

The plan is to keep pitching, keep applying for grants, and keep moving the idea forward.  Please tell 5 of your friends about Give Aid Direct so that we can spread the word.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Pitching to the Impact Den

On Wednesday (13 Nov), I will be in the Impact Den pitching the idea of Give Aid Direct!  I will have 5 minutes to pitch what we are doing to a panel of experts, then 10 minutes of grilling by the experts. The panel will hear 3 other pitches and then decide on a winner.

The panel includes:
We think this is a great opportunity to share our story and to increase awareness of what we are doing. Winning would significantly help us with scaling up and improving our marketing.

It would be great to see some of you in the crowd cheering Give Aid Direct on - please click here for more information regarding tickets and directions.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Invitation to Submit Full Proposal

This week we received some great news - we have been invited to submit a full proposal to the Large Grant facility of the Humanitarian Innovation Fund!  It is not a guarantee of funding, but it is an acceptance of our Expression of Interest and means that we have passed their first test and they are interested to hear more about what we are doing.

We need to submit the proposal by 13 December 2013 after which it will be rigorously analysis and we will hear if we are successful in February 2014.  So we will be working hard at developing the full proposal and keep you up to date on our progress.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Latest

It's been almost 2 months now since we have publicly launched Give Aid Direct.  While the launch day was a very nervous day for me, it went well and within minutes of launching, we had our first donations come through.  Here are a few highlights and some of the challenges we have faced in our first couple months of operations:

  • We have reached the target amount on one project and one person on the site
  • We have received nearly £2,000 of donations from over 20 people in 3 different countries
  • As mentioned in a previous post, we have been granted charitable registration in the UK
  • We've had numerous people contact us either suggesting projects or people to be on the site
  • We've had a number of unsolicited requests from organisations wanting to be a part of what we are doing
  • We have applied for a grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and the Awesome Foundation
  • We have also applied to be in the Impact Den and Filanthrophy Star


  • Getting Paypal to acknowledge that we are a registered charity and thereby reduce their processing charges from 3.8% to 1.8% so that more money can get to the recipients
  • Increasing the traffic to our website so that we increase the awareness of people about what we are doing and more people donate to recipients

We are continuing to apply for grants from other sources and seek to spread our message in many different ways.  Any ideas you have or help you can give - please be in contact.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Charity Submission & Bank Progress

In the past month, we have reached three of our milestones.  Our first milestone was successfully opening a bank account in the UK.  The second was officially launching Give Aid Direct.  The third occurred last week when we received some good, no great news from the Charity Commission.  As long as we made a couple amendments to our constitution document, they would proceed with granting us charitable status in the UK!  We are delighted - another milestone achieved!  It has taken us longer than we anticipated, but we have made it.  Now we are in the process of waiting for the official documentation and our charitable number, but it seems to be only a matter of time now.

It has been a good month and we are looking forward to October being even better.  I am currently in Angola and have spent the last week in rural communities.  I have seen children suffering from severe malnutrition that makes me wonder why i was so lucky being born where I did.  I've talked with women who have started small businesses using a small loan - some of these women have gone from success to success scaling their businesses in ways that I am in awe of.  I have seen communities who have built wells with locally available materials and have changed their lives for the better with some small technical help from the outside.  There are great things happening here and I hope that as Give Aid Direct grows, we can support people here too!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Donations, Fundraisers and Progress

We're off and running!   I spent the launch day very nervous, wondering what the response would be - would people like it, hate it, or be indifferent?  Would people open the email, tell their friends about it, or just hit delete and carry on?   I am happy to report that since our launch we've received large and small donations from lots of people from various countries, which has been incredible to see!  We've also received feedback from many people about how to improve the idea, the website, and our engagement, for which I am super grateful.

We've even had an amazing offer to fundraise for Give Aid Direct from two incredible people who are engaging in the screwball rally right now!  You can check out what Jo and Mandy are up to at their blog.  It has been a wonderful encouragement.

There is much work to be done as we need to implement the recommendations that came in through the feedback, we need to continue to find people to support, and of course, we need to drive more traffic to our website so that more people will donate.  If you are interested in helping out with spreading the word - please tell 5 of your friends about Give Aid Direct and let me know if you can help us in other ways!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Officially Open - Today we launch!

The day I have been waiting for long time to arrive has come! We launched Give Aid Direct today - the website is open for donations, interaction, and most importantly feedback.

Please visit the website, tell us what you think, and perhaps you'll consider making a donation too? Even £1 will go to a worthy recipient and help us test that our technology bubble and string is hanging together.

We've put the site together to begin to enable person-to-person giving, while providing the dignity of choice to people affected by disasters. Through both cash donations and loans to individuals and projects, Give Aid Direct works to tackle the devastating impacts of drought, floods, food shortages, and other disasters, as well as the cycle of stresses and shocks that come with chronic poverty.

We believe in the capacity of individuals to make the best decisions for themselves and their families when affected by disasters. We believe in minimum administration costs and maximum impact, with money - not stuff - going directly to those who need it urgently. We use mobile technology where possible to transfer funds directly, saving time and ensuring accessibility to people in the most rural of places, and irrespective of literacy rates, infrastructure and security.

We love it if you would tell us what you think, consider donating, and share our site with your 5 of your friends.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Charity Submission Update

As you know from the previous post, we submitted our application for charitable status in July.  Recently, we received an email back from them requesting addition information about the following:

  • How we select recipients
  • How we will ensure the funds are being used for charitable purposes
  • What risk assessment regarding the potential abuse of funds we have done
  • What financial controls we have in place
  • Why I might be employed by the charity
None of the questions we a huge surprise to us as they are all similar to questions raised by many of you (except for the one about my employment) in our previous discussions.  Hasha, Gary and I have created responses that we are now sending back to the charity and will wait to hear from them again.  

We'll keep you up-to-date as things move along.   

Friday, 19 July 2013

Small Steps forward

It's been a while since I have written, but we've been busy plodding along getting more and more done.   We made a big step last week when we pressed the submit button on our application to the UK charity commission for Give Aid Direct to become a charity.  I felt a huge mix of nervous excitement in the seconds leading up to pushing the submit button - along each step of the way, I would think we had completed everything we needed to, only to find at the last minute that we needed additional signatures, documents, or some other random requirement.  So I clicked on the submit button and waited...SUCCESS!  It did, and still does, feel great.

So what now?  We wait.  In the automatic reply from the charity commission, we've been told they will review our application and let us know by mid-August if we need to provide them with any additional information.  So we'll see.

We've also been busy improving the website, finding more projects to support, having some great discussions at Trustee meetings, and applying for a bank account.  I've been privileged to meet a few other people from organisations that Give Aid Direct can partner with.  It all feels like we are making progress and soon will be able to go live in a more formal way.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Two big steps forward

Last week, I was going to write a blog entry that essentially echoed what Amos had said a month before. Opening our bank account ran into trouble, our IT platform seemed as far in the distance as ever and I had learned (again) that well-meaning people (including me) who offer to help, in all sincerity, just don't have sufficient time to turn all of their good intentions into action. We are trying to get to a pilot started with zero funding and, last week, it was starting to feel hard. For the first time since we started, the spring had left my step. I even had a title for the blog post: 'Persistence is the mother of innovation'. It was a message to myself as much as anyone who might stumble across this blog.

But today, I am positively bouncing around. There are two reasons. First, we have our third trustee. We need at least three trustees to register with the Charity Commission and Hasha has agreed to join me and Amos, to make three. The three of us met together for the first time last Friday. We met in a free public space, on the fifth floor of the Royal Festival Hall. Amos brought a bottle of red wine, some plastic cups and a ton of nuts and raisins. It was great to meet Hasha and her enthusiasm, curiosity and challenging of assumptions gave me a big injection of energy. The three of us sat plotting to change the world....which we will.

The second reason I am bouncing around today is that Tom, our IT guru, gave our nascent web/phone/tablet platform a makeover. Now I need to say that ever since I met Tom, he has been protesting that front end stuff wasn't his m├ętier and that we needed to find a 'designer'. Well, I can scribble a bit of HTML and said I would have a go. I knew I could do something adequate for the pilot. Luckily, I was not called into action.

Tom did the makeover and I am absolutely knocked out. We are going to have one of the coolest most modern web/phone/tablet sites you are ever likely to see. I can describe it in three words: FAB-U-LOUS! There is still work to do but I now feel that the end is in sight and the final product is one that we will all be proud of, not just something that does the job adequately.

So thank you to Hasha and Tom - launch now feels within our grasp. We just need to negotiate our way through the Charity Commission and charm our way past those pesky bureaucrats at the bank.

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Two-Step Dance

The past month has felt like the glorious "two steps forward, one step back" dance, frankly at times its felt more like no steps forward, three steps back.  Three years ago, I set up a business and it took a day, perhaps two - I filled out some paperwork, paid £150, and boom, done.  Setting up Give Aid Direct as a charity has not been so simple - there are various forms of governance, the need to register with the charity commission who require a constitution, business plans, cash flows, lots of forms, and of course, trustees.  In some of my research this week, I came across this fact from the UK "Most charities bring in funds of less than £10,000 a year." I found it shocking - less than £10,000! Wow. I began to wonder why charities exist if they don't even reach the £10,000 threshold - what is that keeps people motivated to keep going? What impact do these organisations have?

Of course, it is good to have additional checks and balances for charities than for businesses, but it reminds me that having ideas is easy, turning ideas into reality is hard work and often much harder than we think.  I often wonder if the approach we are taking is the correct one?  Do we need to register as charity first?  Can we test the concept without registration? What is wise?  Will the concept even work? Will we break through the £10,000 barrier?  The unknown can be scary, limiting, paralysing or it can be exciting and feel like we are on the cusp of something new, of creating something tangible.  There is something beautiful when fear and possibility meet.  Psychologists would likely tell us that the emotions are closely related and that we can switch between the two quickly due to their relation.  I, for one, have been flipping back and forth often recently.

Yet, at times in my moments of dismay, I stop, pause and consider the interactions I've had along the way.  I think of conversations over the past couple weeks with Julia who likes the idea and wonders why it hasn't been done already, with Rob whose face lit up when I was explaining the idea and provided clarity to me when I was in a muddle, Gary who continues to believe, with Sarah who agreed to be an advisor to the venture, and with Ivana who asked pointed questions and spent time helping to think through communication.  These are all busy people, who have helped to remind me that while there is fear associated with any new venture; it is not the only emotion as there is also possibility, excitement, and even community.

So while the past month has felt like the two-step dance, and while it often feels harder than I imagined, there are lots of people who see the potential and are wanted to see Give Aid Direct a reality and will help make it so.  It is easy to think you are alone in your fear, but often those around us want to see us succeed, if only we allow them to help.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Overview of Give Aid Direct

This picture below was drawn to help with a conversation with a potential software developer, to give him an overview of Give Aid Direct. It wasn't intended to last beyond that conversation but Amos said he liked it and suggested I post it here. It isn't going to win any awards but it does give an overview of what we are trying to achieve.

Apologies for being MIA on the blog recently but I have had a few distractions. I'll try to find time to do a couple of updates over the next week.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Good news story about Poverty

Good news about poverty??  Really?  Is it even possible?  Yes, indeed it is, although we don't seem to read about it much, it is there and it is happening.  While the year on year numbers do tend to fluctuate as you would expect, the overall trend is that extreme poverty numbers are reducing and various diseases are being reduced.  This is not to say that poverty is no longer an issue - one in eight people go to bed hungry every night, and each year 2.3 million children die from malnutrition - according the IF campaign.  But take a look at the infographic below from as it reminds us of the progress we ARE making and frankly it IS good news and IS exciting!

There's even more good news in this TED talk by Bono - have listen and join us at Give Aid Direct in creating more ways to help those in poverty restore their own dignity and delight in life again.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Rethinking Charities: Food for Thought

Recently I came across this TED talk from Dan Pallotta, which I thought was fabulous in how he challenges some of our pre-conceived ideas about charities.  He raises some great comments about how we view charities and the use of money - I loved the comment about how as a society we praise a leader of a company that makes war games for kids to play and reward her/him with 6 figure salaries and a spot on the front of magazines, but we abhor the thought of a leader of a charity earning 80k.  Dan goes on say that as this is the case then why is it strange to people that it is tough for charities to attract the top talent in the world.  Of course it is not all about monetary compensation, but compensation is definitely a factor.  I also loved the comment about scale and how we are ok with amazon, google, or apple, keeping money to reinvest in the company in order to grow it, but again the thought of a charity using money to become better at what it does and to scale its services makes us very uncomfortable.

We often think about overhead as an entirely bad thing, and charities in have engaged in a race to the bottom on this, but why don't we talk about impact?  I find this quite staggering.  If Charity A has a stated overhead of 50% and Charity B has a stated overhead of 10%, most of us will assume that it is better to give our donation to Charity B.  However, what happens if Charity A is having 10 times more positive impact on its recipients/clients than Charity B?  In my view, we need to be talking and thinking much more about the impact the charity has rather than its overhead.  I also realise that one of the challenges is how do we measure the impact of charities, but there is much improvement happening in this area.  If we as members of society ask charities for impact reports, things will change.

Take a watch of the video and let us know what you think.

This raises challenges for us as Give Aid Direct as well.  We don't have all the answers yet, but we too want to challenge the accepted norm in our attempts to improve impact.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

In Praise of Mentors

One of the stories that hasn't been yet been told about give aid direct is the fact it would not be in existence if it were not for mentors and trustees.  Many times over the past year, I have felt like giving up and often come close to doing so - I hit walls that I didn't know how to climb or go around; I lacked skills, so many skills, to do things that needed to be done.  Gary, my mentor, often would listen and then ask a question from a different angle shedding new light on a challenge or more often, he'd simply encourage me to stop for a moment and breathe.  He was good at reminding me that the majority of the pressure I was feeling was self-inflicted and therefore I could deal with it.  He also continues to remind me I don't need to do everything, but rather be the conductor of the orchestra.  Thanks Gary.

In the past few weeks, Gary and I have had a number of meetings with Duncan to discuss how we register Give Aid Direct as a charity in the UK.  While Duncan has not started a charity before, he has been on many boards of charities, trusts, and foundations.  After every meeting with Duncan, I always find myself deeply grateful for his kindness and wisdom.  The sheer amount of paperwork you need to read, forms to fill out, and things to check, double-check, ensure, confirm, etc. is massive - I often marvel at the fact that so many charities exist!  But they likely exist due to people like Duncan who has been patiently walking Gary and I through the halls of the charity registration.  I owe a huge thanks to you, Duncan for your patience and persistence. 

Recently, I was walking through the Johannesburg airport where I read an old African proverb - "if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together."  I've tended to go alone as I get impatient and want things done now, however it has often landed me in me in more frustration.  In my attempt to bring Give Aid Direct to life, going together with Gary, Duncan, and many others has certainly resulted in going further than I would have ever achieved on my own. 

Thanks to you both Gary and Duncan - without you, Give Aid Direct would have been buried a long time ago.  

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Challenge of Articulating Criteria: Part Three – Savings Clubs

We’ve been working at articulating the criteria we will use to evaluate whether or not a household, a project or a savings club should appear on the GAD website.  It’s been a challenge to get what is in our heads, down in print, in a way that makes sense to others.  We want to be transparent and admit that it is a challenge and not a fully resolved challenge either, so we invite you into the wrestling match and encourage you to share your ideas.  Part one of this series of blog posts looked at people, part two looked at projects, and now we look at savings clubs.

The idea of savings clubs, we’ve talked about before in previous posts both here.  In the initial discussions that led to Give Aid Direct being born, the idea of savings clubs didn’t even come into the picture.  The possibility of projects was discussed, but savings clubs?  Not at all.  And yet, it is one of the wonderful things about working with a team of people as this is where the idea of savings clubs came from.  In many ways it is a perfect fit for GAD as it is about supporting a group of people who have articulated their goals for saving and are regularly contributing as a group to achieving this goal.  There is mutual accountability between the members of the group and the process helps build the sense of worth, confidence, and dignity among the group members.  Give Aid Direct comes alongside of this and facilitates the ability for donors to match the contributions of the group helping the group achieve their goals quicker. 

At this point, our criteria for working with a particular savings club are:
  • The group must have been in existence for at least 2 years
  • The goals of club must be environmentally sustainable and have elements of building resilience and disaster risk reduction within them
  • The group must have good governance in place – both a trustworthy leader and robust financial practices

We’ve also been wrestling with the idea of sponsoring individuals who are working in local communities building the capacity of local community-based organisations.  Or maybe it could involve sponsoring a trauma counsellor to work the girls at the fistula hospital in Niger we mentioned in the projects post.  Again the idea is rooting in the value we see in building local communities to develop, however we have yet to figure this out and determine if it is the right fit or perhaps not.  Again it is something that we see enormous value in doing, but the reasoning seems stuck within our guts and we have been unable to articulate it well.  While we have made progress in being able to think through the criteria for savings clubs, projects, and people, this idea of sponsoring someone, we are still in the beginning stages of the wrestling match.  If you have some insights on this, we’d love to here from you.

At the moment, we are continually on the look out for situations, projects or savings clubs, so drop us a line here if want us to consider something you are aware of.  

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Challenge of Articulating Criteria: Part Two - Projects

As I mentioned in part one, we’ve been working at articulating the criteria we will use to evaluate whether or not a household, a project or a savings club should appear on the GAD website.  On the one hand, I thought it would be quite easy, but in reality determining appropriate criteria is a challenge.  Part one looked at people, now we turn our attention to projects.

It’s tough too because there are projects we come across that my entire being immediately jumps up and screams “Yes! We must support that!” like the fistula hospital in Niger providing surgeries and counselling to young teenage girls who are married while they are still children and then become pregnant at ages when their bodies are not fully developed, causing all manner of problems.  Like the Step by Step school in Tanzania providing a chance at education for children with mental and often physical disabilities.  These are projects that I feel we must support as they are providing opportunities for people who are vulnerable and often cast aside by society.  However, I also am aware that I am not overly interested in supporting schools or hospitals in general.  It’s hard to articulate why other than hospitals and schools are targets of many other reputable charities doing great work, which I’m not convinced there is value in duplicating.  So I guess there is something in the impact of the projects as I think both the fistula hospital and the Step by Step school seek to help their recipients rebuild some of their own dignity.  There it is – the main criteria – not completely 100% and the wording can likely improve, but that’s the heart of it.  Of course there are other things like being legitimately registered in their country, having annual accounts, business plans, a sustainable ethos, and a history/background that can be confirmed, etc. 

At the same time, in the category of projects, Give Aid Direct values livelihoods over handouts.  I know this may sound odd due to the fact GAD primarily came out of the notion of giving cash directly to people affected by a disaster, but I see the two working together.  When disasters strike, those affected by the disaster often need assistance to get back on their feet again.  I think all of us do.  This doesn’t need to be a huge amount of support; it can be small, but receiving something small helps.  In a similar vein, GAD wants to give a small amount of cash to people, individual households, to allow them to choose how to use the money to begin to restore their lives.  We have no illusions that we will solve all their problems or that cash is the only answer.  We believe that GAD works along side of other agencies who are rebuilding health clinics, schools, roads, and training teachers and health staff.  The cash from GAD is direct to the household level of the community.  However, in terms of projects that GAD wants to support is around livelihoods like small businesses in the local community, which also get affected by disasters and often need support to become operational again.  At this stage, we’ve defined it as wanting to support projects that build the capacity of local businesses to
  • be more resilient to disasters,
  • build more resilient, fulfilled, and inspired communities
  • create a future that is inclusive and values all members of the community (e.g. employs vulnerable people as employees)
  • protect and restore the environment

That’s it at the moment, that’s where we have got to.  It needs more work, but it’s a starting point and I think gives a flavour for what we are seeking after. 

At the moment, we are continually on the look out for situations, projects or savings clubs, so drop us a line here if want us to consider something you are aware of.  

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Challenge of Articulating Criteria: Part One - People

We’ve been working at articulating the criteria we will use to evaluate whether or not a household, a project or a savings club should appear on the GAD website.  On the one hand, I thought it would be quite easy, but in reality it is very tough to nail it down in a way that makes sense to someone who hasn’t been involved in the conversation.  Honestly, we are not there yet.  We are not satisfied that we have it articulated the best way.  However, one of the values of GAD is to be transparent about what we do, how it is done, and the challenges we are facing.

Determining appropriate criteria is a challenge.  Full stop.

It is a challenge partly because the criteria needs to be linked to our values.  At Give Aid Direct, we place a high value on choice as we believe that there is an inherent link between choice and dignity.  

At its heart, GAD was developed with the dream of bringing together advances in technology to create a platform enabling donors to give directly to people affected by humanitarian disasters.  But then in a criteria discussion, questions arise like which type of disasters and what does “affected” mean, etc.  Good questions, but sometimes hard to articulate as we want to balance the need for clarity and focus, but also the desire to be agile to needs as they arise.  Frankly, we are still wrestling with this one – both with the criteria to use and how to pilot and test this out.  We are keeping it broad at the moment – people affected by the disaster means people living in a community which has been impacted by the drought, earthquake, landslide, cyclone, conflict, etc.  For the moment, we are wanting to do a blanket distribution in the community to help ensure the cash transfers do not cause conflict, however this will be done in coordination with the community leaders and if they would prefer to target only the vulnerable (as defined by the community) households, we would go along with that.  

At the moment, we are continually on the look out for situations, projects or savings clubs, so drop us a line here if want us to consider something you are aware of.  

Monday, 11 February 2013

Schools for Children with Disabilities

I’m in Tanzania at the moment enjoying the sun and heat as a welcome change from the coldness of the British winter.  It’s enjoyable to be away from the compactness of London and be confronted with the vastness of the Tanzanian landscape.  What I love about coming here is meeting people who are engaged in fascinating projects. 

I’ve met Margaret who started a school for children with mental as well as often physical disabilities.  The school started in 2005 after Margaret and her husband grew frustrated with the lack of education options for their daughter Ruth who had special needs and had been rejected numerous times throughout her life.  The school now provides education for 12 students with disabilities and is funding completely by tuition fees and donations.  The school is called the Step by Step Learning Centre and its website can be found here.  I find the project quite exciting as people with disabilities, especially mental health disabilities, are overlooked and forgotten about in most countries, throughout the world.  There is often a sense of shame that people feel about children with disabilities, which I find very sad.  What I love about the school is their sense of possibility for the children rather than hopelessness.  We are beginning discussions with the school about how Give Aid Direct might be able to help them in their work.   Keep following us to find out more..

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Methods to Find Appropriate Recipients

One of the biggest challenges we face is the identification of appropriate recipients.  I put this challenge to a few friends who have worked in humanitarian aid for, likely, over a combined 30 years between them.  According to them, there are many methods out there for identification, some of which can be found among the plethora of cash transfer resources found on the Cash Learning Partnership website.  However, they suggested three ways for Give Aid Direct to test its model in the pilot:

1.    School Based Beneficiary Identification
In Kenya, the school is a key partner in community development and support programs. It plays a key role as an entry point for development organizations; as well as a service delivery point for community programmes such as health (health education and promotion, immunizations and vaccinations, growth monitoring etc). In many communities, the school is also utilized by community members for non-educational activities such as local administration meetings (Chief’s Baraza), agricultural trainings etc.

The head teacher, teachers, parent teacher committees (PTAs) could play a very useful role in beneficiary targeting for Give Aid Direct. They are a respected and wise source of knowledge of community needs, specifically priority needs. The local government and traditional leadership also hold schools; and teachers and parent committees in high esteem. They can identify the neediest cases based on:
§  Absenteeism – is a key indicator of poverty, child labour, illness or death in the family, abuse/violence
§  Appearance, Behaviour and Conduct – teachers can tell when the family situation has changed by checking the ABC.
§  Community-shared information – teachers and committee members are approached for support because they are regarded as opinion leaders and able to support financially

2.    Matching Grants for Community Group Own Initiatives
In practically all communities in Kenya, there exist self help groups. They are known all over Kenya as Chama. It loosely translates to a group/organization. These are community members who are brought together by proximity to each other or neighbourliness. They form an organized group – with elected/chosen leaders, a written or otherwise agreed on constitution or code of conduct. Most importantly, they agree on a small amount of money that they contribute periodically – daily weekly, fortnightly or monthly to address a common need. It could be buying cups and plates, plastering the floor and walls of the house, buying school uniform and shoes, buying a goat, sheep or chickens or even a bigger venture like buying land jointly. Sometimes, the members agree to give a lump cash sum to members to use on individual priorities.

The purchase of items or livestock is done on a rotational basis. For example – a group of 15 neighbourhood women come together and contribute Kshs 50 (USD 0.57) every fortnight. This money is given to a trusted treasurer. At the end of the month, they go to the identified crockery shop and buy a set of plates, cups, spoons, cooking pots for 2 or 3 members. This is repeated every month till all the members benefit. Alternatively, the contributions are ‘banked’ or kept by the trusted treasurer until they have enough to buy for each member. On the day of purchase and apportioning, there is great celebration because their unity and focus has borne them gifts.

GAD could provide Matching Grants for the efforts of the community own efforts. These address the community members felt needs, reduces the waiting time to enjoy the benefits, and does not create dependence on GAD by the communities.

This concept is so impacting that even well-to-do people have formed chamas. Among the middle class and elites, the priorities are, of course, different. Groups may come together to jointly save for car upgrades, holidays, investments such as land, real estate, stocks and other ‘needs’.

Banks realizing the opportunity here, have customized bank accounts for chamas.

3.    Response to TV Medical Appeals
Every so often, Kenyan TV stations will present a heart-rending case of a patient who requires financial support to access urgent or critical medical care. The media houses in Kenya can be trusted to have done a thorough check on the background and genuineness of the cases they show. Plus the videos speak for themselves.  Here is an example I found on youtube.

So there you have it, three ideas - what do you think?  What method would be your preference?  Why?  Let us know.