Donor funds are drying up. This is the reality that charitable organisations around the world are facing. In South Africa, the Starfish Greathearts Foundation was looking for a way to turn the outdated, traditional fundraising model on its head, creating a sustainable annuity revenue business model in its place.
Here’s the challenge: How do we overcome donor fatigue and create a revenue model that brings in earned income instead of donations (which are becoming scarcer from international donors).
“It’s a challenge raising funds in our market, as South Africa is considered a middle-income country with less foreign aid coming through,” explains Belinda te Riele, CEO of Starfish, an organisation that cares for vulnerable and orphaned children affected by HIV and poverty in South Africa.
“Many people are also experiencing donor fatigue and so we need to find more innovative ways of raising funds and to build a community of support for children.”
This required a new way of thinking that not only addressed the challenges of fund raising, but finding a solution that didn’t cost too much to develop and produce. Enter collaborative thinking, and the entrepreneurial community’s ability to work together towards and end goal.
The solution: Starfish approached local digital advertising agency Retroviral to develop a campaign for them that would support an earned income strategy, and that would enable Starfish to further extend services to children orphaned or vulnerable in South Africa.
“Charity is often a grudge purchase, so our challenge was to create something ‘sticky’ that members of the public would find valuable in exchange for the disposable income that they are parting with when supporting Starfish over other charities,” explains Mike Sharman, co-founder of Retroviral.
First, Sharman and his team recognised that you need to give consumers a narrative that they can support, and that gives the business (or in this case non-profit) a story that they can share. Next, you need a product that you can sell.
Technology has revolutionised a business’s ability to share their story, but more importantly, it allows a product to be built once, and then sold in perpetuity, which is ideal for Starfish’s needs.
Next, the entrepreneur needed to do what many entrepreneurs do best, which is collaborate. Entrepreneurial businesses do not operate like large corporates. They tend to be niche and focused. But they are also agile and collaborative.
Retroviral brought a team of designers and developers on board from the entrepreneurial businesses You and Me and Aglet respectively, and together, the three companies collaborated to create a paid-for, interactive iPad eBook, where all proceeds from the sales go directly to Starfish.
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A story to love and cherish: the eBook is designed to share the values that Starfish encompasses, allowing adults and children to emotionally support Starfish’s cause and share their brand values, while also giving a beautiful product in exchange for a $9.99 donation.
The tale follows an original story of Nozi and her mother tucking her daughter in at night, and the magical adventure that ensues as Nozi drifts into a deep slumber. The story is ideal for a child’s first book, as parents can read the text or choose to have the story beautifully narrated by Lebo Motsoeli.
For older children who are learning to read, the tale includes a series of interactive, ‘Easter eggs’, such as lighting, and animals that come to life on the screen when they are clicked, or as the iPad is hugged, tapped or moved from side to side.
The app is currently only available on iOS for iPad and can be purchased here for $9.99.