STORY TELLING: A RELEVANT TOOL IN DRIVING LOCAL PHILANTHROPY

STORY TELLING: A RELEVANT TOOL IN DRIVING LOCAL PHILANTHROPY

“I’m writing my story so that people might see fragments of themselves”- Lena Waithe.
Imagine stumbling on an inspiring story on Facebook on a development project carried out in your community by members of your community. Imagine you giving for that cause because of the story you have just read.

That is the power of what a compelling story can do.
Local philanthropy and localisation have become a central theme in contemporary thought within the development space in the global south, especially Africa. The need for African communities to mobilise resources locally to drive development by Africans for Africa has become more relevant than ever before. This initiative came about due to the wavering and unequal relationship between international donors in the global north and civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Global South. Its severe impacts were felt with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, leaving CSOs in the global south almost Fund-Starved. It has become generic for CSOs to look within and develop local fundraising strategies to carry out development projects within their respective communities and self-sustain themselves. It has now become a question of “How”.

How can CSOs adapt to these changing funding dynamics? From the just concluded virtual conference on local philanthropy and localisation, especially day 2 of the conference, I was amazed at how much Africans are doing and even more astonished by the inspiring stories told by the panellist on how they locally mobilised resources. The urgency for civil societies to leverage the art of storytelling to push local philanthropy ahead should not be overemphasised. Stories play an important role in our African context. Some African folk tales that have been told from time immemorial have contributed to laying the foundation of some rudimental practices in society. CSOs have the opportunity and responsibility to seize power and determine the destiny of the African development space through sharing stories of their experience
Stories give accountability and authenticity to the work of your organisation and attract community donors and supporters. There are several ways that organisations can prove their accountability and authenticity. Stories are proof or evidence of how you are impacting lives of individuals connected to your organisation.

“People are willing to give and will give even more especially in kind if they are assured of accountability and their donation’s impact,” Lamnatu Adam, Executive Director at Songtaba said during the conference.

That is how Purposeful Foundation in Sierra Leone, through the Survivors Solidarity Fund, raised $100,000 within six weeks between May and June 2020. The funds sought to conquer the rape culture in Sierra Leone because they maintained transparent communication with the public about their donation’s impact.
One major challenge CSOs face in the global south is that they pay direct all the resources they have towards getting funding mostly from international donors and implementing projects than telling stories of the impact these projects have on the primary beneficiaries — the community. From all the inspiring stories shared at the conference, it is safe to say that African communities have gone past wishful thinking and are taking the bull by the horns in effecting the change they want in their local constituents. For example, Prof Theophilus Omale created the We can Clean Up Our Town Foundation, Nigeria”, addressed the environmental pollution in the community by using his salary to mobilise resources and youths in his community to clean up the town. People are willing to give for a positive cause if they can see their donation’s impact. They can only see this impact through the stories you tell. He said that he told his stories through Facebook live sessions during all sanitation campaigns in the community. With this singular and strategic act, he touched a wider network that attracted members of his community in the diaspora to give towards this cause. Technology has put the world at our fingertips. Your next big donor is a story away. Creating and using social media (and online) platforms as a medium to tell your stories goes a long way.

Another reason CSOs should tell their stories is that stories inspire people to act. Listening to Josephine Kamara from Purposeful, Sierra Leone speak with enthusiasm and passion about the Survivor Solidarity Fund struck me.

“Telling our stories of how we survived rape and the difficulties we faced through our journey inspired even more Sierra Leonians both home and, in the diaspora, to give towards this initiative,” she said.

Even before she was done talking, some of the participants attending the conference started asking for the account details to make their donations. This is what storytelling a compelling story can do. There is a popular saying that experience is the best teacher. Stories prove that local philanthropy works and can also serve as a learning and research tool for CSOs to emulate in community philanthropy initiatives. Civil society organizations should not only be seen as beneficiary institutions but as Hubs of knowledge creation, sharing and learning.

To conclude, I will draw inspiration from a comment Prof Theophilus made that “community members in Africa can successfully co-create, own and drive their own development initiatives through local giving without necessarily waiting for government or foreign donors”. To add to this Lamnatu Adam of Songtaba said “Communities are Resourceful”. I would like to reiterate that these are not mere theories. These are real lessons these organisations learned in mobilising resources locally to drive community-based development. Tell stories about the impact your organisation is making. Your story is unique, your story is relevant, your story is your identity, it is the window through which the world sees you. Tell your story because people can see fragments of themselves in them. Remember, we can drive and sustain community philanthropy initiatives by sharing our inspiring stories.

By: Atiabet Lizette, Capacity Development intern, WACSI

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality.


Previously, Omolara served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.