Six weeks in Dhaka have come to an end and there is a lot to talk about. We havn’t been posting particularly regularly but are happy to catch up with you now!
Organisation one of four is in the books. Six weeks with LEEDO in Dhaka passed so quickly, it was difficult for us to take a step back and reflect our work. We blended into the organisation and completed a variety of tasks, some of which with sustainable results, others with, let’s say, temporary benefits. But we will get to that later.
Little expectations, big surprises
We did not really know what to expect. From a couple of Skype calls we roughly understood what LEEDO does but not much more. Visiting different projects in the first few weeks helped our understanding of the organisation improve. But this also unveiled a major hole that desperately had to be fixed. The funding for a Transitional Shelter, that was giving street children a place to sleep away from the street, had been closed a few weeks prior to our arrival due to a lack of funding. This made us decide that we had to shift our focus. A good online presence would still be the foundation of our work but extensive and detailed applications to foundations to reopen the Shelter came into our focus.
A Bangladeshi office
The office was literally our home. We slept in the office, the three of us on one mattress. There was not a lot of space, but it turned out to be good to avoid the time-consuming commute through the traffic of Dhaka. Six colleagues came to the office six days a week, a couple of street educators would come to the office every now and then. It was a warm-hearted atmosphere and all colleagues were very committed to their work and the organisation. Communication with our colleagues turned out to be very difficult as most only spoke quite limited English. In a similar way, the working environment was not comparable to the office we have experienced in Europe. People are more relaxed when it comes to office hours and productivity. That doesn’t mean that they work less, they just don’t get as much done in a given day. We were learning a lot about communication: The language barrier and different understanding of commitment often made a simple process challenging for us. Over the time we knew how to address issues and how to communicate any questions we had or tasks we wanted to assign. It is very important to say that all our suggestions were received openly, and together with the team we made some changes within the office which will hopefully enhance the efficiency.
Some unexpected assignments
We had a clear plan of our work, but we were also aware that this plan would have to be adjusted to the organisation. But we did not expect that we would have to adapt our work as strongly as we did with LEEDO. To reopen the important Transitional Shelter we wrote applications, prepared finance plans and wrote job descriptions. We analysed data and designed an improved project proposal to suit the demands of the funding organisation. Within in the office we formed and structured a fundraising team that will now take care of writing applications, communicating with donors and feeding social media channels on a regular basis. We helped organise and promote a fundraising dinner, spent an evening baking waffles and made two videos for selling T-shirts. A more complete overview of what we have done is now displayed on our website.
What we accomplished
So, which part of our work did we actually do in the one and a half months we had? The online presence got an entire makeover. On the new website attractive pictures, texts and short videos represent the new image of LEEDO. This will be the basis for the newly formed fundraising team to secure new funding. A new strategy for the social media channels will keep followers all over the world informed. A new blog and attached newsletter will reach out to a further group of friends and donors informing them about activities and news from LEEDO. Over the time we have raised awareness on how important a good online presence and donor communication is. We accopmanied the implementation of the fundraising and communication strategy with a written manual of ca. 40 pages about how to represent LEEDO on Facebook and the newsletter.
Talking about non-profit organisations without mentioning the word sustainability is close to impossible. An important part of our concept is to make our work have a lasting effect on the work of the organisation. This is a particularly difficult goal to achieve considering the short amount of time we can spend with an organisation.
We are aware that some parts of our strategy will not work for LEEDO as intended. But we believe that the awareness that we have created for the importance will have a lasting effect and the guideline we wrote can be exactly that – a guideline. Only time can tell whether or not the LEEDO staff continues implement the developed strategy. A lasting benefit is the new website, Johannes assured the executive director Forhad that he will make any changed and improvements if needed. We will also continue to give advice and feedback on social media efforts. We are convinced that the new fundraising team will have a substantial effect on LEEDO’s further development. So far, all funding has come from organisations approaching LEEDO. The new fundraising team will now actively approach organisations and individual donors to actively raise funds. This is an opportunity to increase the funding for the next months and years to come and make the organisation grow its impact.
Next stop: Sri Lanka!
Our second organisation is located just south of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. The organisation is helping underprivileged youth and families. We have had a couple of Skype calls with the founder but are facing a similar siutation like before we traveled to Dhaka: We do not know too much yet about their work (a lot of room for improvement for their website 😉 ) We are looking forward to get to know a further organisation and have a comparison to our experiences with LEEDO.
Our third partner organisation we have not fixed yet. We are in contact with a few organisations that are doing some great work. But if you know any NGOs working in India and Nepal that could need some support, it would be great to hear about them. Make sure you follow us on our Instagram channel where our stories will give you some daily impressions. The blog will also provide you with weekly updates on our work. We have now decided to work 5 days for the organisation, one day for the outbound communication and improvement of NG3O and spend the last day of the week traveling around drinking beer. If you have any questions or suggestions, we are always delighted to hear from you! Stay tuned!