On 23rd June 2021, The Life You Can Save partnered with The Funding Network Australia to organize our third virtual crowdfunding event. Like our first virtual crowdfunding event hosted one year earlier, this event featured speakers from three of our recommended charities: Moses Baraza from Evidence Action, Dorelle Hinton from New Incentives and Warren Blessing Tukwasibwe from Living Goods.
Once again, our global network of supporters came together, online and in real time, to show their support for the life-saving interventions provided by these charities despite the continuing challenges presented by the pandemic. Once again, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and community spirit we witnessed that evening as participants pledged over A$120,000 in support of these three remarkable charities.
Our June 2021 event was yet another remarkable illustration of human creativity, resilience and solidarity in the face of adversity. And the online crowdfunding format proved to be not just a temporary, pandemic-related adjustment but a new, powerful and inspiring tool for good.
Three Inspiring Speakers, Three Life-Saving Charities
Moses Baraza, Evidence Action
“When you need a glass of water, what do you do?” said Moses Baraza, Associate Director of Evidence Action’s Dispensers for Safe Water initiative in Kenya and our first speaker for the evening. He paused, giving each of us sitting in our homes a chance to reflect.
I looked at my 1.5 liter black water bottle. It was on my table, right in front of me, and I had been sipping at it all morning while preparing for the event.
“Now imagine a woman in rural Africa, in a remote village of Western Kenya,” said Moses, snapping me out of my thoughts.
“There is no running water in her house. In order to have enough water for her family, she must wake up early, travel for 20 minutes or more of several kms to a water source (bore hole or open spring) that she shares not only with her whole village but often with animals too.
She must make this journey every day. Sometimes the road is muddy, sometimes dusty or hot, sometimes chilly or rainy and the path very slippery. Once she has filled her bucket with water it becomes very heavy. She balances the load and carries it home on her head.
After all that effort, it is painful to think that, often, the water she has collected is not actually safe to drink, and it makes her family sick.”
At this stage, the audience was alert, shocked, and reflective. Moses went on to share that diarrhea is the world’s second-leading cause of childhood mortality. Every year, diarrhea claims the lives of over half a million children before they reach their fifth birthday. At least one child under five dies from diarrhea every minute. Hundreds of children fall sick. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Dispensers for Safe Water, the program that Moses helps direct for Evidence Action, provides free and reliable safe water by installing and maintaining chlorine dispensers in rural Africa. “This blue thing is the solution that we have!” said Moses, pointing to the chlorine dispenser that he had placed right next to him for all of us to see live. “It is the chlorine dispenser.”
Right when Moses completed his pitch, there was an influx of heartwarming messages for him in the chat box from event attendees. It had been a brilliant, powerful, insightful talk. Moses had given us all much to think about.
Dorelle Hinton, New Incentives
Our next presenter was Dorelle Hinton, Communications Lead at New Incentives. New Incentives solves the challenge of low vaccination in NorthWest Nigeria with their Conditional Cash Transfer for Routine Immunization Program. They educate caregivers about the importance of vaccinating children and disburse cash incentives that are conditional on infants receiving life-saving vaccines. Moreover, there is strong evidence that these cash incentives work!
“[A]n independent randomised controlled trial found that New Incentives’ program doubled the percentage of babies who were fully immunized, increasing coverage from roughly one quarter to just over half of all babies in this region,” said Dorelle. We were inspired after listening to her beautiful and eloquent pitch.
Warren Blessing Tukwasibwe, Living Goods
Our final presenter for the evening was Warren Blessing Tukwasibwe. Warren serves as the Senior Technical Advisor, Community Health Systems Strengthening for Living Goods in Uganda. Living Goods supports and trains local community health workers in Africa — the majority of whom are women — to deliver life-saving medicines, health education, diagnoses and health products to millions of people who need them.
The Life You Can Save and our partners at The Funding Network had been working very hard behind the scenes to have Warren present his pitch live at the event. However, shortly before the event, Uganda went into lockdown! The situation in Uganda, due to the pandemic, was rapidly changing. This meant that Warren was unable to travel to a location with a strong internet connection for the event and present at the event live. Given the travel and connectivity issues, we pivoted rapidly and had Warren pre-record his pitch, which we then played during the event. We were overwhelmed with the outpouring of support that we received.
Creative pledges and challenges were a highlight of the evening!
When the presentations were over, we opened up a live pledging session, where we invited participants to pledge a donation to each charity. Prior to the event, three extremely generous donors — Amy & Matt Doran, Affinity Impact and Rob Rawson — had committed to providing A$30,000 in matched funding for the event. In other words, donations up to that amount during the event would be doubled!
Our brilliant MC, Jacinta, invited participants to put forth their pledges by typing in their names and the amount they’d like to pledge in the chat box. I was astounded by the sheer creativity of the pledges made. Some pledgers shared a personal connection to the organisation and encouraged others to do the same. Other pledgers encouraged others to match their pledge and saw their donations doubled, tripled or more!
“$100 because a child dying every minute is not OK. Does anyone want to match me?” typed an event attendee into the chat box in support of Evidence Action.
“The next $5,000 in donations will be matched by Give Industries in Brisbane,” wrote another attendee.
Earlier that evening, Dorelle Hinton from New Incentives had shared with us the story of Farida and her 1 year old daughter Adola. If Adola had been born almost anywhere else in the world, she would have had a 90% chance of being fully vaccinated against deadly diseases like Measles, Polio, and Diphtheria. But, because she was born in NorthWest Nigeria, she had less than a 30% chance of receiving some or all of these vaccinations. Two out of every 5 deaths of children under the age of 5 in NorthWest Nigeria could have been prevented by existing vaccines.
Peter Singer, founder of The Life You Can Save, typed the below wonderful and inspiring message in support of New Incentives and its work on childhood vaccinations: “I just got my 2nd dose of AstraZeneca — one of only about 3% of Australians to be fully vaccinated, which isn’t a good level. Anyway, in thanks for that.” He then added his pledge: “I’ll put in $5000 for New Incentives”
Peter’s pledge was one amongst a series of pledges in gratitude for the life-saving power of vaccines.
“Here’s to the incredible science of vaccination. Everyone, go and get your COVID shot and make sure everyone in your circle of family and friends does too,” wrote another pledger while adding their pledge of $5,000.
“$100 in gratitude that my vaccine is booked! I’ll want to pay my privilege forward – anyone else?”
“$100 and I encourage anyone who has taken for granted their childhood vaccinations to match!”
“$100 – so lucky to not have to choose between vaccinating my children and feeding them….”
Several pledgers issued fun challenges to the audience, including the Executive Director of The Life You Can Save, Rickard Vikstrom: “OK a personal one – When we scheduled today’s event I forgot that today is my partner’s 40th birthday (oops). I pledge A$200 and challenge anyone who has ever forgotten about an important birthday to also pledge A$200 or more! P.s. Happy B-day Ben! ?”
His challenge resulted in many laughs and much generosity!
Children led the way
One of the most powerful and inspiring experiences at this event was to witness children leading the way with bold and generous pledges and setting an example for the adults in the room!
“$5 from Walter (aged 9)”
“Walter gives another $13”
Walter’s mum proudly typed, “Walter doesn’t get much pocket money.”
“$10 from Jasmine (aged 9)”
“$20 from Mike aged 7”
The audience was inspired. “So nice to see youngsters like Walter, Jasmine and Mike changing the world,” typed an event attendee
It was The Life You Can Save founder, Peter Singer, who summed it best when he said, “The children are a shining light for the future!”
We were all in agreement.
*Note: All children’s names have been changed for anonymity
By the end of the virtual crowdfunding event, we had collectively pledged over A$120,000 to Evidence Action, New Incentives and Living Goods. Moreover, each of us present at the event felt a sense of community with strangers we had never met before.
The COVID–19 pandemic has indeed been a crisis of catastrophic proportions. It has resulted in a year and a half of ruin and resilience, suffering and strength, despair and defiance, all of which have co–existed in varied degrees in our collective experience. All aspects of our lives have been transformed. However, sitting in my home, and feeling this all powerful sense of community, made me believe that we can (and must) continue to do our bit to make a difference.