Monday, 14 April 2014

A Project Visit

Last month, my family and I were in Tanzania and had a chance to visit with Margaret and the Step by Step Learning Centre, which has been supported by some of you through Give Aid Direct.  The school itself is a rather nondescript building off the beaten track in Arusha (see the photo below) with a small garden and workshop, however there are little miracles happening there regularly.  Some of the children who are there or have graduated, came unable to speak and function, however with some initial love, care, and nutritious meals, they came alive.
Photo of Step by Step learning school in Arusha

Together we were able to provide tuition, meals, and transportation for Goddie, which struggles with autism and possible emotional and psychological trauma, however in many ways Goddie is lucky as he has an amazing younger brother.  While we visited, Goddie was still adjusting to coming to the Step by Step Learning centre, which takes a while, but improvements brought about nutritious meals were already visible.  Margaret, who runs the school, was very optimistic about the future for Goddie because of his supportive brother who is receiving support from the Foundation for Tomorrow as the family home situation is quite difficult.  Below is a video made by the school to show a bit more of what happens there.

We were excited and impressed by what we saw at the school and hope to continue to support them in various ways.  We hope you'll join us - click here to see the current opportunity to support the school on Give Aid Direct.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Where Cash is Used in Aid

One of the questions we often get asked is why do we give people cash and not "stuff".  There are lots of different reasons for this, but I thought it might be interesting for people to be aware of some of the places and organisations besides Give Aid Direct who use cash.

The Cash Atlas is an interactive global mapping tool aiming to visually represent cash transfer programmes at a global level and show the different sectors and contexts in which cash is used.

Don't forget this Sunday is the London Marathon where Ben is running on our behalf.  Send him some words of encouragement on Facebook or through his donation page here.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The happenings of the week

There is a lot going on at the moment - a couple getting married decided to ask people to give to us rather than presents and so did another couple who were christening their child.  I find this amazing and get excited each time it happens.

Another one of our projects - the Daylight Project providing simple lights in informal settlements - has been completely funded.  In conversations with the Daylight Project founder we discussed how we can continue to work together - in the near future you will be able to see a few new projects linked with them - one focusing on lighting again, one around micro-business development, and potentially one about a business plan competition focusing on utilising rubbish in new ways.  It was encouraging for me to see how our partnership can continue to develop.

This week I also had the privilege of having a few long email exchanges with one you.  It was great to hear the ideas for how we could improve and the concerns.  We have been fortunate to have people who are interested, not only in what we are doing, but also in how to make it better.  We can always improve on building trust with our donors and recipients and I recognise that we have not always done the best at this so far.  We also need to continually balance the need or desire of our donors to hear feedback regarding the impact their donations have had and the desire to have as much of the donation as possible get into the hands of the recipients.  I've been reminded this week about the importance of consistency and being transparent.  Feedback and comments are fabulous, please keep them coming.

Of course, this is also a big week as Sunday is the London Marathon where Ben is running on our behalf.  Send him some words of encouragement on Facebook or through his donation page here.

Monday, 3 March 2014

London Marathon Heros

In just over a month from now, thousands of people will be filling the vehicle-free streets of London chasing each other around a pre-defined route with thousands more people cheering them on.  Anyone who has run the London Marathon previously often will talk of it being an amazing experience and how incredible encouraging they found it as complete strangers shouted their name and words of encouragement.

From the virtual sidelines of the blog, we'd like to give a massively loud shout out to Ben Grierson-Hill who is running the London Marathon on behalf of Give Aid Direct.   Most people run the marathon for a charity as that allows them to enter, however Ben was one of the lucky persons to be selected by the marathon lottery system to run the marathon without charity sponsorship.  However, Ben has a huge heart and thought he could raise money as well as run.  It has been an amazing encouragement to us to have Ben request to run and fundraise on our behalf - we are well-chuffed to have him support us.

April 13 is the day of the big run for Ben - we'll be there cheering him on from the sidelines and we invite you to join us.  Why don't you also follow this link to his marathon page where you can donate and even choose a song for him to listen to while he runs!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Setbacks and Reflections

2014 begun with significant optimism and excitement - we had submitted numerous high quality grant applications, Maria began working with us two days a week, and Phil had agreed to provide some free monthly marketing help.  I felt we had turned a corner, 2014 was going to be the year we made huge advances in developing Give Aid Direct

While Give Aid Direct is developing, the path is not at all what I expected at the start of the year. While Maria has been a great help and Phil is helping us understand more about marketing, all of our funding applications have been turned down, which was unexpected.  We often made into the top 5 or even top 2 applications, but narrowly was beat out by another application.  Thankfully, we have received some helpful feedback about our applications and the overall concept of Give Aid Direct, which we can use to improve future applications and future communication.  

While setbacks are never fun or enjoyable, they have given me time to pause, reflect, and challenge my thinking.  There is an improved version of the Give Aid Direct concept forming - call it Give Aid Direct 2.0 if you will.  It is very much in its infancy, but the seed has been planted, has germinated, and is beginning to sprout.  While the original concept of person-to-person giving in the aftermath of a disaster is core to what we want to enable, there is more to Give Aid Direct than that, but our message, our story, our engagement needs to be much more.  

We'll be hard at work improving Give Aid Direct, the experience, and the impact, however we need you to join us and spread the word.  Visit us regularly, tell us what you think, and tell your friends about us.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

New Year, New Opportunities

We have many exciting things coming in 2014 and we thank all of those who supported us last year. Maria Sanchez has just joined our team part time, she's worked with different NGO's and UN agencies and brings lots of enthusiasm . Here are a few words she wanted to share :

"I am a firm believer that giving people a choice is a great gift. Those of us who have them (choosing what you want to have for lunch, what university you want to go to, where you want to live, what you want to wear, when you want to shower, etc) are very fortunate. We take it for granted and sometimes I forget that most people don’t have those choices every day.
When I came across Give Aid Direct I was very excited of supporting the idea of giving people choice and dignity while working with new technologies that will enable cash transfers to be easier and reach those in most need.

I’ve always been interested in cash transfers and have seen the positive effects they’ve had rebuilding markets after a disaster or in conflict situations. There is now substantial evidence and research supporting cash transfers as a positive intervention in development and humanitarian settings. However this also raises many questions in terms of transparency and how people will actually spend the money. This is one of the challenges I want to understand and communicate to GAD supporters.
GAD gives the donor a choice among different individuals and projects and at the same time the recipient has a choice too. Being able to be part of a project in its early stages especially when it has so many possibilities of where it can go is very exciting.  I look forward to this great opportunity."