How do NGOs leverage social media to promote their causes?

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Techreport surveyed more than 4,000 NGOs last year across 153 countries about how they were using social media. Turns out, 92% of global non-profit organisations had a website and a Facebook page, 78% of these were mobile-compatible, while 72% used Twitter.

This report alone is proof that NGOs are targeting millennials and Gen-X that are more open to online donations or online fundraising campaigns. Donors now have a wide variety of choices to select a cause they feel most strongly for.

This blog lists some ways that are actively being used by global NGOs as they leverage social media and online channels for charity purposes, online fundraising and other such activities. We have taken the example of a global NGO in India called Akshaya Patra that’s on a mission to feed school-going children with a wholesome lunch every day.

Make success stories sharable

NGOs around the world now understand the impact of stories on social media. And since they are often involved in causes related to human rights, they often have great stories to tell. Akshaya Patra loves sharing Hope Stories that are easily sharable on social media. This encourages visitors to check their website for details such as online fundraising, sponsoring a child or sponsoring a school.

Write linkable tweets on other platforms

NGOs have learnt to leverage attention beyond their own websites and social media pages. They make themselves heard on other prominent platforms such as Forbes, The Huffington Post and others. Akshaya Patra has a small microblog on the online edition of Forbes with the Twitter icon, so that it can be easily shared. Such initiatives have helped people around the world associate mid-day meals with Akshaya Patra.

Sharing history to add credibility

NGOs are quite forthcoming these days about sharing their history and background. They choose compelling storytelling methods to talk about their history to encourage donors for donating to charity and building trust. Akshaya Patra has an interesting history that’s not only presented beautifully on their website but is often shared on various social media platforms in digestible chunks of content.

Use Youtube for visual recall

Youtube is a social channel that’s quite democratic when it comes to widespread reach. Akshaya Patra often shares video stories about important launches, events, its state-of-the-art kitchens and other aspects of its school lunch programme. Recently, noted author Rashmi Bansal’s book launch event had received considerable attention on Youtube. Her book –God’s Own Kitchen – is traces the Foundation’s journey.

Partner with others

A non-profit organisation cannot work alone. It needs like-minded partners. Akhaya Patra partners with startups and enterprises to scale up at various levels. In one such initiative, it partnered with Innovative Alchemy, which helped the organisation to develop an innovative kitchen design that helped scale up its kitchens. Partners like these often share this kind of content on their own social media platforms that further expands the reach of NGOs like Akshaya Patra.

NGOs today are more aware and tech-savvy and are clear about their target audience. This clarity often helps them increase the scope of their causes and source necessary means to implement schemes.

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How Children in Telangana Benefit from Akshaya Patra

It is only by doing service to others we can find the relevance of our existence. There are children in government schools who cannot pursue education for lack of food. The children crave to remain in classrooms, play with friends, remain independent and look after their family when they grow up. But when circumstances are not favorable they tend to be drop-outs.

The literacy rate in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are lower than all India average of 69 percent. In Andhra Pradesh, the percentage of dropouts are 58.9 while 67.2 in Telangana. Most of them are from families who are engaged in farming, whose parents are daily wage labourers. During the summers, when the agricultural yield is poor, most of the parents even discontinue their children’s education.

As a successful NGO in Telangana, Akshaya Patra serves free mid-day meals to these children with support from the government. Since 2008, the non-profit organisation has been serving free mid-day meals to 54,849 children in 454 government schools. The organisation has its largest mechanised centralised kitchen in Hyderabad with state-of-the-art cooking equipment’s that are capable of cooking huge quantities of food. A variety of rice items as biriyani, puliyogare, bisibele bath, peanut rice, jeera rice, tomato rice and khichadi are served. Even savouries and fruits are also served.

Let us hear what the beneficiaries have to say of the mid-day meal in Telangana.

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Monica Devi, a 15-year old girl studying in Zilla Parishad High School, who belongs to a broken family says, “I am very fond of the meal provided by Akshaya Patra and potato-brinjal curry is my all-time favourite.”  “Just before lunch, my friends and I can’t stop thinking about the meal,” she adds.

Read more about Monica at: This Akshaya Patra Beneficiary is a True Victor

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Venu, a 5th standard student whose parents are daily wage earners says, “My favourite is the aloo biryani served on every Thursday.” “My friends and I make sure we don’t miss school on Thursday because of the biryani,” adds Venu.

Read more about Venu at: Exploring more with a language

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Soujanya, an 8th standard beneficiary is a class topper whose parents are daily-wage labourers. She says, “I’m lucky to have the Akshaya Patra meals. It is nutritious and tasty. It helps me concentrate in class” She further adds, “I am fond of the fruits and loves the biryani served.”

Read more about Soujanya at: Perfect with Numbers

Teachers opine that despite the sporadic dropout rate, the enrolment rate has increased by 2%. Most of the students are regular as they are served free nutritious mid-day meals Thus the non-profit organisation not only serves food but also supports education.

For many children in government schools, the mid-day meal is an important aspect of their daily lives. Let us serve unlimited food for education.  It takes Rs. 750 to feed a child for a year! Donations of Rs. 500 or above are considered as tax deductible donations. (Every donation of Rs. 500 or above to Akshaya Patra is eligible for 100% tax exemption under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax.

Akshaya Patra as an NGO in Ahmedabad

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.                                                                                                                                           – Albert Schweitzer

Our life on earth is counted by the virtuous deeds we do for others.  We may not be able to help everyone but we can do something to help someone. There are many ways to support those who are in need like donating to charity, lending a helping hand to non-profit organisations or sponsoring a child etc.

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We know that in government schools most of the children tend to be drop-outs when hunger remains a constraint. The performance of a student in class is directly dependant on the nutrition he/she is getting. Most of the children come with empty stomachs and doesn’t have the energy to concentrate in class. They lose interest in studies and end as drop outs. The non-profit organisations like Akshaya Patra serves mid-day meals to children in government schools with continuous support from the Central Government and the State Governments operating on a Public-Private-Partnership model. Education reports claims that in Gujarat, 58 of every 100 students who enrolled in schools are dropouts failing to make it to high schools, which is the 16th highest dropout rate in the country.

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The non-profit organisation serves nutritious mid-day meals across 10 states of India. One among the states where Akshaya Patra serves mid-day meals is Gujarat and in the state, Ahmedabad is one of the locations where the NGO runs its programme. Ahmedabad has one of the largest kitchens in India with the capacity to prepare for 400,000 children. Currently as an NGO in Ahmedabad, it is feeding 132,581 children in 524 schools each day. The centralised kitchen spreads over two acres in a 3 storeyed building producing 200,000 meals in five hours. The hot, nutritious meals are delivered across the schools through 44 meal distribution vehicles. The kitchen was inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben on August 2014. She said, “I strongly believe the mid-day meal from The Akshaya Patra Foundation will fulfil the goal of making Gujarat free of malnutrition. I hope the healthy and nutritious food provided to children from Akshaya Patra will build healthy minds and body. The Gujarat government is eager to support Akshaya Patra’s activities to build a strong society and a strong nation. I wish success to all the people working in the new centralized kitchen of The Akshaya Patra Foundation.”

Mid day meal menu

To prevent the dropout rates in schools, Akshaya Patra serves meals to the children with the aim of promoting education.  Meals are served keeping in mind the local taste of each region. The menu consisting of roti, peanut rice, jeera rice, mix veg curry with soy chunk, vegetables, mix dal consisting of masoor dal , channa dal,  lots of vegetables, kichdi  etc. are served to the children of Ahmedabad. Unlimited food is served keeping in mind their requirements. For some of the children, the noon meal may be the only proper meal they get a day. The kitchen has a food safety and quality control laboratory that has high-precision testing instruments to enhance quality and safety of the meal.

The other centres in Gujarat where the NGO serves food are Vadodara and Surat. As a result of the quality and nutritious food served, children are interested in coming to school, the enrolment in schools has increased, and micronutrient deficiencies are solved. Parents are happy to send their children to schools as they get a proper meal a day.

Today Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food to over 1.5 million children from 11,360 schools across 10 states in India. Akshaya Patra plays an effective role in promoting education by providing nutritious meals to children in Government schools.

For Akshaya Patra to keep providing these children with nutritious food for education every day and expand its reach to help more children, the organisation needs support and participation from people, corporates, philanthropists and the generous donors. Contributions as donation to NGO can be done in many ways. One can donate to this charity online, which is considered the easiest method of all.