Madiba, aka Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s former (and first black) president.
A man who changed history with his courage and dedication.
A man who set about to unify a divided people.
To many, he is a global symbol for peace, charity and hope.
To others, he is an inspiration to change the world.
Last week, on July 18th, the world (yes, even the Obamas and U2) united to celebrate Madiba’s 93rd birthday. His birthday has transformed into a global initiative – Mandela Day – driven by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the United Nations to encourage and inspire world citizens to spend 67 minutes (in honor of Mandela’s 67 years of service) to serve their world and fellow citizens. (Read more about Mandela Day here.)
While the Foundation has developed a great initiative based on a fundamentally great idea, is it engaging South Africa’s plethora of NGOs and charities to create volunteer opportunities for the nation’s citizens?
Here’s a two-step process to ignite the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s 67-minute initiative:
1. Match Local Volunteers with Local Causes
The initiative calls on South African citizens to take 67 minutes out of their day to serve others in their community. The campaign website even recommends 67 ways people can “change the world.” The online list suggests that citizens support local community clinics, hospitals, support groups, soup kitchens, libraries, animal shelters and faith-based businesses (among many other suggestions). That’s a great start. But what if people don’t know what organizations are located in their cities? Or which ones need volunteers?
The Nelson Mandela Foundation should take their initiative deeper by telling people where they can find these organizations.
How? By partnering with active online databases of charities, NGOs and local organizations that need support. By offering a united front for the nation’s cause marketplace, the Foundation would be offering a one-stop-shop for potential volunteers – similar to the US-based VolunteerMatch. One of South Africa’s most comprehensive cause databases is Greater Good SA that has to-date connected 1,250 non profits with 10,000 registered individual givers. The website allows users to search for causes by type (HIV, Education, etc.) and location (Eastern Cape, Western Cape, etc.).
The Result: A list of 67 ways to change the nation that would engage and connect (even through a hyperlink) citizen givers with local causes in need.
2. Offer 67 Minute-Long Social Media Training to Cause Marketplace
South Africa may not have the highest Internet penetration in the world at 10.8%, but it has almost 6 million unique users, with almost 4 million of them on Facebook. A quick assessment of the cause marketplace’s digital presence shows that social media engagement is still weak. NGOs like Soul of Africa and FLKS collectively have less than 200 fans on Facebook. Other organizations like H.E.A.R.T. and Emthonjeni Fountain of Life Care Centre don’t have a social media presence at all. A research study done less than two years ago showed that only six percent of NGOs in South Africa are using social media in pursuit of their organizational goals. While the number has surely increased since the findings were released, the cause marketplace still has a long way to go.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has a unique opportunity to follow their own advice and offer 67 minutes of service to local NGOs through social media training sessions. The Foundation could even offer these sessions in partnership with global marketing agencies with a South African footprint (Ogilvy and TBWA both have offices in SA and do pro bono work). Sounds like a win-win scenario to me.
The Result: A low-cost, but high-impact strategy to revolutionize the entire cause marketplace. More importantly, this would allow South African causes to more effectively connect and engage with their potential volunteers and donors.