NGOs & Nonprofits

Giving racism the finger

Give Racism the Finger

We’ve been pretty busy these past few weeks, but seemingly not as busy as the folks at All Together Now, the organisation behind the Give Racism the Finger campaign (also on Facebook). We’ve donated 1% of our profits for the March–June 2011 quarter (did I mention we’ve been busy?) as part of our regular giving program to support organisations doing great work in the community.

Chatting to Priscilla Brice-Weller, founder of All Together Now, it seems that the campaign is going from strength to strength, with a new initiative (that I’ve sworn to secrecy about!) launching soon. But this year has already seen some impressive results.

Over four weeks in May and June 2011, All Together Now worked in partnership with The Body Shop. The Body Shop asked their customers to Give Racism the Finger by dipping their finger in ink and putting their fingerprint on a board in the store. In doing so, they were committing to speak up when they witness racism. During the in-store campaign The Body Shop helped All Together Now to collect 50,706 fingerprints in 83 stores across Australia, which resulted in 150,000 conversations about racism between store staff and customers.

Priscilla also tells me that the annual Social Cohesion report (by the Scanlon Foundation) released in September 2011 showed that 1 in 7 Australians have been a victim of racism in the past year… that’s around 3 million Australians! So it’s great to be able to support organisations like All Together Now in helping tackle such an important issue. We hope you’ll join us and do the same…


Micro-financing Rwanda’s Coffee Farmers

As part of Zumio’s quarterly giving program of donating 1% of net profit to organisations doing good within the community, we have chosen to support Project Rwanda Coffee Bikes.

Coffee Bikes was founded in 2005 by Tom Ritchey after he visited Rwanda in 2005. Being a bicycle enthusiast himself, he soon realised that the bicycle could be a important tool in rebuilding the country.

Rwanda has nearly 500,000 small farming coffee producers who have an average of 200 coffee trees each.  Each small plantation is managed like a small garden, and is owned by a family. These farms produce the highest quality coffee bean, as the soil is a rich volcanic grade and the farmer is able to give a high standard in cultivation.

As a farmer can not afford to buy a vehicle or an animal to transport their harvest, they are forced  to carry their load and walk  to a collection point, taking them up to 12 hours to do so.   Unfortunately the coffee bean begins to deteriorate from the time it is harvested until the time it is pulped, thus reducing the profit for the farmer if it takes too long to get to market.   By providing the farmers with these specially designed coffee bikes, it dramatically reduces the transport time to 2-4hrs, thus yielding the farmer a higher profit for their harvest and supplying a superior bean.

It is a micro-finance system and designed around the pay it forward concept, where you invest $300, the farmer pays it back over 2 years and once the debt is paid the money is recycled, allowing another farmer the opportunity to finance a bike, with the cycle continuing.

The coffee bike (aka cargo bike) opportunity is not only for coffee farmers but is also extended to farmers who harvest other crops and other goods, such as potatoes, cassava, milk etc.  50 donated cargo bikes were also used to distribute mosquito nets and malaria treatment to help prevent deaths, their goal is to Eliminate Malaria Deaths by 2015.

Cargo Bikes are  helping farmers to rise above poverty, giving Rwanda the potential of creating a prosperous rural economy.


Support for local refugee initiatives

Regular readers may recall that Zumio has a quarterly giving program where we donate 1% of net profit to organisations doing good within the community.  I just wanted to take a moment to mention who we’ve supported for the past two quarters.

Given the continued attacks on refugee rights that seem to flare up in response to electoral pressures, we decided to theme our giving for this past few months on initiatives that support refugees in our local community.

Asylum Seekers Centre NSW

The Asylum Seekers Centre supports Sydney-based (and in some cases regionally-based) refugees by “providing a welcoming environment and front-line support for community-based asylum seekers.”  The centre receives no government funding and relies on philanthropic support and public donations.  They recently ran an appeal highlighting a shortfall in funding due to a significant increase in the use of their services — so we are grateful of the opportunity to provide at least a little support to help them achieve their fundraising goal.

The Social Studio (Melbourne)

The Social Studio is “a dynamic space where clothing is created from the style and skills of the young refugee community.  Recycled and excess manufacturing materials are gathered from local industry and re-configured into original clothing.”

We loved the fact that the Studio combines so many positive benefits into one initiative — sustainable garment manufacture, refugee support, promotion of “social inclusion, community and vitality” through their mobile shopping carts — and we’re delighted we can be participating in their community in some small way.

Check out the site, consider donating, or if you’re in Melbourne, keep an eye out for their “pedal powered pop-up shops” to purchase some of the clothes produced by participants in the initiative…

NGOs & Nonprofits

Hippo roller v2

As regular readers would know, Zumio donates 1% of nett profit to a worthy cause each quarter. This month we’ve chosen another Project H Design project to support: the Hippo Roller redesign.

The Hippo Water Roller is a fantastic example of simple but effective design in context with a worthy social outcome. From the Hippo Water Roller website:

In many countries, traditional water collection involves carrying a 5-gallon (20-liter) bucket on the head. This practice puts a great burden on the body and can damage the spine, neck and knees over time. A full Hippo Water Roller only feels like 22 pounds (10 kg) when rolled over level ground, making it possible for almost anyone to transport 24 gallons (90 liters) of water in much less time and with greater ease.

The San Francisco chapter of Project H Design have “re-designed the Hippo Roller for improved shipping efficiency for wider distribution and a lower price point” and they are raising funds for new tooling to produce the redesigned rollers.

Zumio is of course delighted to be able to contribute to this goal. This is the second Project H Design initiative we’ve supported – the last was Lifestraw distribution to Mumbai. I’d definitely suggest checking out their (soon to be updated) website, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook, for more about their work.

P.S. if you’re wanting to support the Hippo Roller project, simply drop Emily at Project H Design (her email is in the receipt notices etc.) to let her know.

NGOs & Nonprofits

Donations usability

Today’s Alertbox references findings of a Nielson Norman Group research study on usability of donation forms for non-profits.

I’ll be grabbing a copy of the full report, but I just wanted to focus on a couple of points from the Alertbox piece.

The first is this point about stated motivations of donors – what they are looking for from organisations when choosing to donate:

We asked participants what information they want to see on non-profit websites before they decide whether to donate. Their answers fell into 4 broad categories, 2 of which were the most heavily requested:

  • The organization’s mission, goals, objectives, and work.
  • How it uses donations and contributions.

Makes sense – this is how I’d answer too. The first point turns out to be the most important:

…an organization’s mission, goals, objectives, and work was by far the most important. Indeed, it was 3.6 times as important as the runner-up issue…

…(Information about how organizations used donations did impact decision-making, but it was far down the list relative to its second-place ranking among things that people claimed that they’d be looking for.)

On finding the donation link, the piece says:

Amazingly, on 17% of the sites, users couldn’t find where to make a donation. You’d imagine that donation-dependent sites would at least get that one design element right, but banner-blindness or over-formatting caused people to overlook some donation buttons.

Banner blindness means that using “big bold buttons” can actually have the opposite of the intended effect. (If I had a dollar for every request to “make the button bigger and more prominent” and having to argue this case…)

Having clearly labeled navigation options is also important. In my own testing I’ve found that the word “Donate” far outperforms other labels (e.g. “Support”) – another case of being clear on your trigger words for navigation.

The last point I thought worth mentioning was a point specifically on usability. For the most part usability was ok, except for one standout:

Our testing did identify some small usability problems, but the only big problem was caused by sites that used third-party payment services, which stumped some users.

My interpretation of this point is that when non-profits rely on third-party payment pages such as those provided by PayPal or their bank to take donations, that the user experience is significantly impacted.

I think this is particularly problematic for smaller NGOs and non-profits who can’t afford to setup their own e-commerce system, and who therefore rely on such third-party systems.

My experience with such systems as a user has never been good, so I advise my clients (as I did my previous employers) to avoid such systems. My argument was that the break in continuity (being directed to a different site) and the usability issues often inherent in such solutions would significantly impact donor confidence, and by extension $$ raised.

I’ve sometimes heard the argument that people trust the banks’ system better than the non-profit’s website, or that including PayPal as an option on your site actually increases donations.

But the usability issues have always been my biggest concern in not implementing such third party payment systems. (I have only begrudgingly started using PayPal more often because trying to pay by credit card in a PayPal enabled system is such an awful experience.

To date, however, it’s been only my word against the vendors’. It’s good to have some empirical evidence on the matter – so I’m looking forward to reviewing it in more detail.