The event began with an opening prayer and a hearty rendition of the women’s anthem, just like any other gathering of activists.
Everyone is singing with a rare sense of patriotism, and the powerful lyrics elicit a nostalgic reaction from the audience.
As they sang the anthem’s final line, “equality, development, and peace,” the audience erupted in applause.
Such was the atmosphere at the Coalition for the Promotion of Gender Justice’s three-day training on Information and Communication Technology, Content Development, Social Media Marketing and Management in Calabar, Cross River State, South-south Nigeria.
While setting the tone for the programme, the Project Coordinator, Mfreke Asigbe, said that the training was necessary and timely.
“We are at a very critical period in life. If you are not on social media, you miss out on a whole lot and your organization’s growth becomes stunted,” she said.
According to her, the coalition decided to strengthen members’ capacity in order to position them for future growth and to improve their ability to respond to cases of gender-based violence within and outside their community.
Non-Profits Decry Paucity of Funds
While the wordings of the women’s anthem talk about justice, equality, peace, development and upholding the rights of women, achieving them requires money.
However, most non-profits are barely surviving due to paucity of funds and inability to find donors.
The funding net has kept dwindling as only a few donors are available to support them in executing their projects which have the capacity to deliver sustainable development goals (SDGs) to their communities.
For instance, Atim Eso runs an initiative called Atycare Initiative, an organisation with a mandate of ensuring the achievement of SDG 4 which is quality education.
Ms. Eso said she runs the organisation with her personal resources and the goodwill of some friends.
Her initiative provides school uniforms, fees, writing materials and most times healthcare support for vulnerable children in Calabar under her “Impact 500” project.
Atycare, is one out of thousands of non-profits in Nigeria with good intentions but has little or no funds to carry out projects that align with their core objectives.
Under the perceived lack of funding from donors, other organisations are receiving thousands of dollars in financial aid to fund their activities and keep their organisations running.
One may ask what are they doing differently?
Time to Jump on the Digital Train
In a session titled “Strategic Content Creation for Brand Development and Management,” the Managing Director of CharisKaris Limited, Nzioka Mbithi, said the idea of content creation, resource mobilisation and brand marketing of NGOs has come at a good time.
“Non-profits need to change the traditional approach to looking for potential sponsors. Traditionally, the approach has been to write reports, have physical meetings but the world is changing and there are people that are extremely passionate about the cause of NGOs, and they are willing to participate no matter how small,” he said.
Mr. Mbithi argued that applying traditional methods in sourcing for sponsors and donors limit NGO’s reach to a corner of the world when there is a big world ready to embrace new ideas and opportunity for collaboration towards achieving the common good.
As a result, he encouraged participants to keep pitching well-written content with specific keywords that have impact and elucidate emotion so that people can understand the issue at hand and be more willing to offer assistance.
Mr. Mbithi also recommended getting the services of a coach or mentor to ensure accountability while also urging organiations to be sincere in handling funds, adding that donors support pitches by organisations that exhibit a high level of sincerity.
He insisted that NGOs that will thrive in an era of artificial intelligence and innovative digital tools are those that will deliberately position themselves online and utilise the tools available to be visible to prospective donors and advocates.
How Digital Tools Help in the Fight Against Gender Based Violence (GBV)
Speaking on the sidelines, the Programs Officer for the project, Abenmire Adi, said it is very important to leverage digital tools in the fight against GBV.
According to her, recent conversations about ending GBV are being driven by social media, which allows messages to go viral and be heard from all over the world.
She said the popularity of the “Me Too” Movement, the “Sex for Grades” Movement, and other GBV campaigns was due to the unique role of social media.
“We cannot downplay the importance of digital tools and social media neither can we ignore the speed in which technology is improving,” she said.
In order to attract more funding to projects geared towards achieving gender equality and preventing GBV, she advised organisations to “shamelessly sell their brand using social media to ensure gender justice in the state.”
Participants at the training described the sessions as informative, educative, eye- opening and apt for the task ahead.
They committed to use the lessons from the three-day event to rebrand, reposition and market their organisations in line with globally accepted principles through exploration of digital tools.
In a parting shot, the Project Coordinator, Mfreke Asigbe, thanked the funders of the project, Saferworld and their implementing partners International League for Peace and Freedom and Women for Women International.