©flickr / Tuncay

Rescue Our Centre

Online fundraising in Egypt - a role model campaign.

Educate Me is an Egyptian association that aims to improve the educational opportunities for children from poor neighbourhoods in Cairo. It was founded by Yasmin Helal in 2010, who at the time was working for a multinational telco and playing in the national basketball team. Facebook has proven to be a very worthwhile channel for her work: not only were all 18 full-time staff and 87 volunteers recruited over the social network, but it is also the most important communication platform for the association's activities.

Over 75,000 fans make up the Educate Me community, and this strong base is also the backbone of several successful fundraising campaigns. “We practiced crowdfunding without knowing that such a thing existed”, says Yasmin. Shortly after the NGO's founding, Yasmin put up photos of 137 children in need on Facebook and found a sponsor for each of them to take on the costs of their school fees for a year. “Last year (2014) the building in which our children's centre is located came up for sale. We feared for our continued existence and decided to come up with the purchase price – €46,000 – ourselves.”

In June, during the traditional donation month of Ramadan, they called on their Facebook friends under the title “Rescue our Centre” to donate to their cause. However, because online payment methods in Egypt are very rudimentary, interested parties had to call a telephone number and leave details of their contribution as well as their address. A pick-up team then went through Cairo from house to house and collected the donations. Relatively easy-to-reach milestones were celebrated online with great fanfare.

In addition, they developed a graphic that shows one of the sponsored children on the entrance steps of the centre. Each step symbolises 50,000 Egyptian pounds, and as fundraising goals are reached, the child climbs up one step after another. Although the child has a sad expression while standing on the lowest step, their expression gradually morphs into a radiant smile with each step. These milestone pictures proved very popular and were often shared on Facebook. After two months the association had not only reached their target, they had exceeded it by €58,000. 160 people donated in total, with the majority aged between 23 and 35.

Educate Me was able to repeat the campaign success a few months later: in March 2015, they received a further €58,000 via Facebook, which which means further scholarships for children can be financed. The NGO now serves as a role model for other Egyptian organisations in the area of online fundraising.

We discovered this case through our Lab Around the World research trip.



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