by Chris Kariuki 


This post shares tips from Wawira Njiru’s ‘How to Mobilise People for Social Change’ session at #MatchMentor: Social Changemakers edition which took place on Saturday 29th July. Wawira is the Founder and Executive Director of Food4Education, a non for profit organisation that works with vulnerable children in the public school system to improve their lives and school performance.

The first step in mobilizing people is to identify a compelling problem that you want people to take part in. Have all the facts in place and ensure you conduct in-depth research. Wawira used her example of Food4education whereby she witnessed that majority of school going children skipped school because of lack of meals. She conducted her research in order to understand the depth of the situation not just in Ruiru but other regions.

Start with your Circles: The next step is to come up with an appropriate approach to make people excited about your social change concept. Convince a few people within your circle to support your idea and the brainstorm the initial concept. Identify the target audience for mobilization as well as the most appropriate ways to reach out. For Food4education, the most appropriate approach was the use of social media.

Tell a Story: When telling people about your cause there is a process to telling people information. Do not just tell people all the information at once. If you are not good at storytelling, learn it or consult/research on ways to tell people your story. The starting point is to divide your story into parts i.e. what is the first step? What do you tell people next etc. All these stages of telling your story should be related and feed into each other. Have a unique way of ensuring people contribute to your cause. For example, when it comes to monetary donations, have a well thought out figure and understand out what it means to the audience. For example, Food4education used #40ForAPlate. For the majority of people, a plate of lunch actually costs Ksh 35 but the team thought Ksh 40 was more appealing and also people would not mind contributing such a small amount. Furthermore, they passed a message that the each donation would go a long way in keeping a child at school. Therefore this motivated even those with only Ksh 40 to take part as well as those with bigger amounts.

Make People Feel Appreciated: People like to be recognized when they do something good. Therefore have a way of ensuring participants get something just for participating. For Food4education, a participant got a profile photo designed showing that they have donated to the cause. This made more people want to participate.

Media Channels: Know which media platforms to use for different audiences. For example, tell a story through Instagram photos, be short, to the point on twitter. Understand the different types of people on different social media platforms.

Honesty: Don’t use pictures that are not from you. Also, ensure you are accountable to stakeholders involved. For example, if you mobilize people to donate towards a cause, have ways of showing people the results or how their contributions are being spent. This will motivate people since they can directly see the impact of their contributions and also show that honesty and transparency.

Online and Offline Campaigns: Identify areas that you are good at and then look for a team to join you. In most cases, you will need an offline team to reach out to people directly. Furthermore, have teams to reach out to potential partners, and to explain your cause to people offline. Look for potential partners that align to your cause. For example, Food4education partnered with Vitabu Vyetu, IbuaAfrica, and GreenSports which had similar objectives of promoting education among young people.

Thank you Wawira for sharing these valuable tips!

Chris Kariuki is the Strategy and Concepts Coordinator at The Arena Kenya, an organisation that through events and digital platforms, leads a movement of smart, conscious and empowered young Africans focused on themselves and the communities they live in. He is also an enthusiast of all things start-ups, technology and ideas that change the lives of people around and he hopes to contribute in building the future.


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