It’s Friday again! And Friday is conga day. At least it is for the members of the Phone Credit for Refugees (PC4R) Facebook group, who come together to have fun, chat, join in the virtual dancing, share a GIF or two… while raising money to provide mobile phone credit for refugees.

The idea is that once you’ve made a donation you come into the group, join the virtual conga and post to say you’ve donated. It doesn’t matter how much you can afford – the main thing is to come in the group and post about it, which then increases the reach of the post and hopefully encourages others to donate as well.

By coming back week after week and donating a small amount on a regular basis we’re able to provide real help for people who are stuck in difficult and dangerous situations.

But it’s so much more than that.

Small, repeated actions

For me, this way of helping provides a focus. With so much suffering around the world – plus the ability to be informed about much of it thanks to the internet – it can be easy to become overwhelmed and feel that you can’t make any difference. The Friday conga gets us to zoom right in to a small, repeated action. And that feels right and comforting at a time when lots of other things are up in the air and out of my control.

A sense of community

With many of the donors coming back week after week, there’s a real sense of community. When the group admins tell us that they’ve got a particularly long list of people needing help that week, everyone pulls together to like and comment in the group to make it a great conga with more reach and – hopefully – more donations. The group is a fun place to be. I’ve got into the habit of popping in to join the conga on a Friday, and checking in again on a Saturday morning to see how the after party is going and check the all-important numbers.

Sharing the load

The PC4R group asks for help, but it takes the pressure off by spreading the load across many people. The focus is always on getting the message out to as many people as possible. There are some bigger donations – someone might donate to celebrate a loved one’s birthday – but the emphasis is very much on getting a big crowd of people to each donate a small amount, ideally on a regular basis.

A marathon, not a sprint

By pacing themselves – making a small regular donation rather than a grand gesture – PC4R members are able to keep coming back week after week, helping people in the long term. It becomes a routine, something not to be missed.

Direct, relatable help

The admins of the group usually share a little bit about where the money is going and what motivates them to volunteer their time. In particular during Covid times, I think we can all relate to how important it is to be able to stay in touch with family and friends. I’m glad the PC4R group is able make that contact possible, at least for some.

What can we learn?

The factors that make this kind of fundraising a success can also be applied to anything we want to achieve. Rather than running at it at a sprint, trying to do everything ourselves and possibly burning out, let’s take small steps, make it fun, surround ourselves with like-minded people with the same or similar goals, keep our eye on what it is we want to achieve, and keep coming back week for week. That’s the path to sustainable success.

You can donate to PC4R here, and then definitely come and join the end of the conga line each Friday in the PC4R Facebook group.

 

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