An Interview with Mr. Ayodele Amusa, the Co-founder of Donate-NG – A Crowdfunding platform for charity and the public to raise funds for their projects in Nigeria. Mr. Ayodele Amusa is an IT and Telecommunication Consultant with experience working at Major Telecommunication Vendor and Operators such as MTN Nigeria, Alcatel-Lucent, Everything Everywhere UK and Vodafone UK.
What is donate-ng?
Donate-ng is a crowdfunding platform that allows individual to source for funding for their projects. However, while other crowdfunding website will allow the sourcing of fund for entrepreneurial ventures, donate-ng is focused on the Social Crowdfunding.
How do you mean Social Crowdfunding?
The platform is only for raising fund for charitable works. When someone donates, the person should expect he/she is donating to a charitable cause. We limited the platform to Social crowdfunding because, we identified the challenge surrounding us as people is of greater value. There are a lot of needy people, schools, communities that require one help or the other and can’t access the funds to resolve the solution. There are individuals who are willing to make changes in their environment but can’t because they don’t have access to the funds that will help actualise the change; hence we are concentrating on social crowdfunding for now. Having said that, in Nigeria of today, the support framework and requirements for the verification of business venture ideas is lacking.
However, we do not rule out the possibility that we may enlarge the platform later to include the possibility of business/entrepreneur crowdfunding.
Is this similar to the Rag-days organised by Higher Institution’s Student Union Government?
Yes, this is similar to what we achieve through the university rag-day and other fundraising event in the past. Another example is the luncheon parties to raise fund for Social clubs. This is now brought forward to the internet age where the gathering of the funds is done electronically. If you recall on the rag-day, the university student union picks a cause like mother-less baby home and the student goes out to source for donation from the public. With the Internet age, you use your social media circle to draw attention to your project and get funding from them.
So, how does donate-ng work?
donate-ng is an easy to use platform. We can summarise the step into three stages. Firstly – you register, secondly – you create fundraising portal and start receiving funds, and thirdly – You receive the amount raised.
We cater for three type of funding needs; we have the individual, Charity Organisation and Charity Volunteers.
For charity you have to register the Charity on the platform – Charity Registration (https://donate-ng.com/charity/register) . This is only available to charity registered with the Corporate Affairs commission.
We separated it this way to make sure that any amount raised by Charity volunteer is paid directly to the charity organisation. While individual will receive the fund but agree to donate-ng supervising that the fund goes to what it was raised for.
How much does it cost to register and use the platform?
The registration and use of the platform is FREE. However, as a standard, making payment online incur a cost. Most time the receiver bear the cost and we don’t know. For example if you go to an e-commerce website and buy an item for N1000 and you pay using your card. You will be charge N1000, but the amount the Seller actually received is less the transaction fee which could be up to 5% of the item price.
While I like to point out that charity or individual do not have to pay to use the platform, there are fee that will be deducted from the amount donated. So, if you donate N1000, your card is charge that amount only, but the Charity will received N1000 less the transaction fee. The fee depends on the type of payment method used by the donator. The fee for PayPal is different from Voguepay e.t.c. The fees are spelt out in our Fee breakdown on the website.
It’s worth mentioning that bank transfer and bank deposit do not incur any charges.
Are you saying the amount I choose to donate is what is charge to my card without any hidden fees or charges?
Yes, absolutely right. If you donate N1000 naira, Only N1000 will leave your account. We want to make sure you are completely in control of what you are giving.
Internet security and fraud are serious issue in Nigeria, how is donate-ng protecting her customer’s payment details?
First, I will like to say that internet security and fraud is not only peculiar to Nigeria. This is a global treat, just recently, a UK based company’s (TalkTalk) Network was penetrated and millions of the customer payment details were stolen. We have also heard of similar incidence at big Corporations like Sony in the past. So, the challenge is global. However, what we have done in donate-ng is that we don’t take or save any donators payment details. The Platform use Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to Card payment processing service like Interswitch or Voguepay. Once the payment is processed they send a transaction reference to us that the payment was processed. What we only get from them is a reference number of the transaction for us to be able to track the donations in our account and make the payment to the beneficially.
We are aware of the needs for security and privacy protection, we make sure we only request minimal information as possible to allow us tie the Transaction to the cause and update the portal information accordingly. The use of the Platform is completely safe and you have nothing to worry about regarding safety of your information.
Talking about Payment cards and donation, is donation only acceptable from cards issued by Local banks?
Not at all, we have engaged PayPal and VoguePay, to allow payment card processing for any Visa or Master card issued in any country. This is the good thing about the platform. Fundraising portals can receive donations both locally and internationally. Nigerians in diaspora can now contribute to causes and Charity in Nigeria.
Can individual without Charity registration use the platform?
Yes, I mentioned previously that we made available three funding requirement. Individual that needs to raise funds for a cause such as Alumni fundraising for their Alma mater, or an Individual needing fund for medicals van also use the platform. We separated it this way, so we can create a level of fraud control for individual fund raising. We want to make sure that when you donate using the platform you will be rest assured that the donation goes to the beneficiary intended and all deceit or fraud is eliminated as much as possible.
What are the benefits of the platform to a charity organisation?
First, a charity organisation can benefit from publicities we run on social media to encourage people to donate to charity via our portal.
Secondly, Charity does not need to go via the bureaucratic process of getting online payment integrated to their websites.
Thirdly, the platform provides opportunity for Volunteers who will support the charity and raise fund for them regularly. Let me give you an example. I have a colleague in the UK, who brings cakes to the office every Friday. These are delicious home-made cakes. We enjoy the cake and look forward to the cake every end of the week. The cake are free but all she asked is we donate to the charity she support via her personalised fund raising portal. So, you can see how much she had raise for the charity. She set target for herself and raise over £10000 every year for her charity. She doesn’t have to handle the cash that can bring mistrust. All she just sees is that so and so have donated to the charity via your fundraising portal.
Imagine, on your birthday you want your friends to donate to a Charity rather than giving you gifts or flowers. Instead of you just giving a charity bank account that you cannot see how much you raised. You can use the platform and at the end of the Fundraising, you get a Thank you certificate from Donate-ng for the amount raised. And the payment is made directly to the Charity nominated bank account.
Do you see charity activity picking up in Nigeria compare to the developed world like the UK?
I agree with you that Charity in the UK is very well developed. You will be surprise that there is charity for almost everything, supplementing the governmental services. The advantage is the somewhat easy process of registering a charity in the UK. You also see the work of this charity and willing to donate, trusting that the money is spent for the purpose it was collected.
These are the challenges in Nigeria, First we need to streamline the process of registering a charity and secondly, we need a Charity Commission that will oversee the activities of every registered charity. This will bring the much needed transparency and trust that will encourage more donations.
However, I do believe that Nigeria give a lot to charity and are willing to give more if they can see that the money is not just going to enrich some individual.
What are the challenges in getting people to donate to charity in Nigeria?
The major challenge is creating trust in the system. We need a Charity commission that will scrutinise the account of the charities, to make sure they comply with the required standard of practice, just like the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) does for corporate business.
Secondly, we need to increase awareness of charitable works. Majority of Nigerian are not even aware of the charity that exist in the country, ask anybody to mention two charity they know, it will be motherless baby homes and ehm ehm…They can’t mention another, even though motherless baby home is not a charity. The Charity also needs to work on publicity, so that people are aware of their activity. There are lot of registered charity helping children, women and the needy in the society that people would like to be involved with, but the lack of awareness is a big challenge.
Thirdly, educating the people that Charity needs money to run. We have created the mentality that when going to charity homes, we go with clothes, shoes and food. You can see many of our celebrities doing that. The charity also need money to pay the workers, the accommodations and utility bills. Educating the Citizens that Charity run like a business, you pay the staffs and for services received. The only difference with a Charity is that it is not a business setup to make profit. We need to donate food as well as cash to run the charity.
Finally, we need to make the donation process easy. For example, nobody is ready to go to a charity organisation office and donate N1000. But if one thousand people donate a thousand naira, you would have raised one million naira to support a charity. This is what the power of crowdfunding and easy of donating brings to the table. We are confident donate-ng will break this barrier.
Majority of Charity are focus on orphanages. Is there a reason for this?
I don’t believe that majority of charity are orphanages. It is just the ones that we know. There are many charities in Nigeria catering for various needs. There is charity like the Down syndrome foundation of Nigeria, they support people with Down syndrome and also help kids with heart problem to receive medical attention in India. I was very impress with the work they do, when a beneficiary relates his experience with to me. There are so many ways we can impact positively to the society through involvement with charity and if you see a way to improve something but you can ‘t find a charity, why not start one?
Start a charity?
Yes, Starting a charity is not rocket science, you can get some information from Charity (NGO) Formation in Niigeria (http://www.nigeriaformations.com/charities-and-NGOs.php). We don’t have to be as big as the Gates foundation to impact the society positively. You can start small even if it is scholarship to a student your charity can support it is still a charity.
Coming back to the donate-ng platform, how is the acceptance of the platform by the public so far?
We have just unveiled the curtain on the website, and we have started seeing traffic to the sites with some charity going through the registration process at the moment.
What next now?
This is our first phase; we plan to extend the platform to include other features to make the web experience for the charity and their donators better. We are also working on a technology that would make donating easier for the general public.
It was nice having to discuss donate-ng with you and we wish you the best.