Founder’s concerns – follow up

First of all, I am very grateful for the response to the previous blog I posted a few days ago – https://friendsofpakati.com/2021/09/28/founders-concerns-advice-needed/ – the statistics show a good number of views & visits. It also shows those visitors did go and see other pages and other previous blog posts. I hope you will continue to visit the website & spread the word whenever you can across all platforms.

What Friends of Pakati was set up for – students learning about the computers we presented

We have been struggling a bit recently, so I thought it useful to engage with our readers for ideas on changes to improve things. Here is what I asked in that most recent blog:

Is the problem what we do, or how we do it? Are we on the right social media platforms? Are we getting the best out of them? Is the blog itself interesting enough? How can we improve the content? What are we doing t? What are we not doing? Are we presenting our material in the best way? What should we do more of? Or less of? Are there activities we should be doing? Are we not interactive enough? What can we do to sell more merchandise? How best can we raise more donations/attract more donors? How do we become better at those things? Should we use some of the money raised to better promote Friends of Pakati online/social media? If so, how?

This post will be to answer at least some of those questions, with help from those who responded.

First ever IT lesson at Pakati Primary school, September 2019

On Facebook Messenger, I received the following message from John Needham, a friend and fellow supporter of Scunthorpe United – he is the Chairman of a supporters group, Iron Trust. They, through John, have been very supportive of Friends of Pakati. Here is his thought-provoking assessment, particularly in the UK:

Hi Chris. I’ve read your latest blog, but I’m afraid I’ve not got any answers for you. I believe that the pandemic has taken a huge toll on many people, either through loss of jobs, through the ending of furlough (the UK’s job support scheme), or through loss of family/ friends. Many have had to reduce or curtail charitable donations as a consequence. I think it’s also difficult to build small charities, especially as you have pretty much a finite audience. I think that feedback direct from the schools would be good, maybe little videos showing how life has changed as a consequence of the donations. It could be a case of less is more?! Fewer blogs, but directly from Zim. Non of the above is intended as criticism of your efforts, which have been magnificent, but a look at a slightly different approach. Times are tough for all charities at the moment.

Cheers, John

So, some interesting thoughts from John, well worth considering as I decide how best to proceed. For me, the comment about maybe more input direct from Zimbabwe is a good one, so I am inviting my friends and contacts to respond, by offering regular content from the schools, the community and those with strong connections wherever they may be. For the schools, it will be great to hear about how the donations are helping improve things, and how more donations would further improve the education standards.

Stuart Pine, IT Manager at the Stephenson Group, and the Author in 2019, as they handed over the PC’s they had generously donated to Friends of Pakati

Stuart (see above), a key supporter for us, has also added his thoughts, and reflect a similar view. Here is some of what he said in a message to me earlier:

Hi Chris, we are all well. I have been thinking about the original blog. I think the biggest fight we have is Covid, although there is a noticeable move to get back to normal, people and businesses are being very risk averse. They are looking inwards and not outwards. I genuinely expect this to change but probably not until next year…… With that said everyone seems to be focusing on the bad news, fuel, Covid, energy costs etc, I could go on. But it’s removed people’s focus of being interested in other things and for people to look at donating. It will get better and I think we all can just keep sharing and liking links, I am no expert on raising up the profile of the website, but if we could get some advice it may help – we just have to keep going and keep posting. Maybe the promised video from me will help 😀 (it will help! – the Author)

So, what are we going to do? Well there are some ideas which we can introduce, the first of which is this: one suggestion was that we start to post just once a week, but at a set day/time – which will be on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm each week for the time being. It will include a main item and any relevant updates.

I am talking to people who are giving advice on social media presence, on the website, on promotion and publicity, and on fundraising, so you can expect to see some further changes in the coming weeks. There may be a change in emphasis in terms of where and we promote ourselves, and greater use of short videos whenever possible.

One other key message I took from the responses is that, even though times are tough right now, we should keep going, keep posting about Pakati schools. As things hopefully get better in the coming months, then when the time comes, we should be in a good position to make the trip to Zimbabwe for a second donation presentation. It is important to play a long game, and not be too worried with the current situation.

We are still open to ideas, thoughts, suggestions of how we can improve things – please email friendsofpakati@gmail.com

We are also open of donations http://Paypal.me/friendsofpakati and for sales of our merchandise https://friendsofpakati.com/merchandise/ so please do get in contact.

Author:

My name is Chris Walker, and between January 1989 and September 1991 I worked, through VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), at Pakati Secondary School in Murehwa South district in Zimbabwe. I was a Maths teacher for 2 years, the Acting Head for the last 8 months there. I have also taught in Botswana & the UK, had 4 years working for VSO, and have been a Civil Servant in Bradford since 2005. I married a Zimbabwean woman & we have 2 sons.

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