- By Gabriella Razzano
In spite of the importance of our work for the public, South African non-governmental organisations (ngo's) are notoriously bad at both conveying the message about their cause, and conveying the message about themselves. For the past two years, thanks to the support of our friendly funders at Indigo Trust, a group of South African ngo’s has been hard at work trying to remedy this. I took an opportunity to reflect on some of these lessons last year, but last week marked the final of the one-on-one sessions we have been undertaking with the fantastic Katie Findlay and Nicky Cosgreave of Edge Digital in Cape Town.
While I now know how to do Facebook boost posts (easy and cheap) and the strength of placing a period before your @mentions on Twitter (genius), the most profoundly important part of the exercise has been building a network of colleagues – and this network is a profound marketing tool as well. Our partners at Fundza Literacy Trust, People’s Assembly, AfricanLII and SAFLII, Code for South Africa and RLabs have become our new cohorts, and each is doing spectacular work that we will continue to shout loud about.
It goes beyond just talking about each other’s work though: specific partnerships have arisen because of this group. For instance, Adi of Code for South Africa and Marlon of Rlabs will be guest speakers at the super interesting NetProphet Conference Edge Digital are helping to organize at the beginning of August (check it out here). Edge Digital were also instrumental in helping to forward ODAC’s vitally important Blikkiesdorp Campaign, where we sought to forward the housing and information rights of a group of citizens that have been unforgivably shunted aside in City planning. SAFLII and Code for South Africa have also begun working together, among many other shared activities between members.
And even more importantly, these are very real and human connections that are built. We were able to share in the excitement of Katie’s little one, and the sadness of seeing one or two of our colleagues move on to greener work pastures. These human connections drive us, and strengthen the very network that can help us to advance the causes we hold so dear.
Bringing together the right people at the right time is how you change the world. That is, at its heart, what we have all been working toward – so we should continue to do it together.