Place-based capacity building at Lightful : Pumulo X Ireland
Hi! My name is Pumulo Banda and I lead the Relationship Management team at Lightful, which is responsible for managing relationships with all the nonprofits that take part in Lightful’s flagship digital training programme, BRIDGE (building resilience in digital growth and engagement). I always say we’re the best/luckiest team at Lightful because we get to spend time with these inspiring organisations on a daily basis. They have fantastic stories to tell, but don't quite have the skills, knowledge or capacity to tell their stories and showcase their impact through their digital channels. We work with them to help them understand how they can use digital to do just that and I am excited that we're going to be launching an Ireland BRIDGE fund later this year.
Before I joined Lightful, I worked mainly within the nonprofit sector, I spent just over four years at Save the Children where I worked in marketing, fundraising and communications. My roles there focused on building multi-channel communications campaigns and regularly using digital to connect with Save the Children's new and existing donor base. I loved my time at Save the Children, as I got to work on some amazing campaigns that focused on storytelling as a way of building trust, and engaging audiences with a view to getting them to take actions off the back of our communications. I was really lucky to find Lightful where I could use the knowledge I’d built up about nonprofits and digital communications.
We work with organisations from all over the world at Lightful, but I am particularly thrilled when we get to work with organisations from Ireland. I lived in Ballymena from the age of about six to 18, when I left home. It’s where I grew up (mostly) and I consider the island of Ireland to be my home. My brother and my eldest sister still live there so I'm very lucky to go back every so often and visit the lovely, tiny place where I grew up. I couldn't have asked for anywhere better to grow up. There is a tight community and people really connect with one another, it's the sort of place where everybody knows everybody. I feel really grateful for the opportunities that were afforded to us living there, the great schooling that we got, for free, the outdoors-y lifestyle and the great people - many of whom are still friends, well-extended family really.
Two years ago at Lightful, we launched our very first BRIDGE programme in Ireland. We partnered with Life’s Too Good Foundation who funded a group of 7 micro community groups and charities, all across Ireland, as a pilot. This was a tiny cohort for us (we usually run cohorts of 50-200), but it was vital work and the participants, a mix of organisations all operating in different cause areas, saw great results.
"Participation in BRIDGE has positively impacted Galway Rape Crisis Centre in several ways. It has helped us create more engaging social media content, resulting in increased audience engagement and improved brand awareness. Moreover, our relationship with end-users and beneficiaries has been strengthened through tailored content, helping to foster a supportive online community. Overall, BRIDGE has made a significant contribution in enhancing our organisation's social media presence thereby strengthening our ability to support survivors of sexual violence."
- Susan Costello, Fundraising & Communications Manager at Galway Rape Crisis Centre
They came with a mix of experience levels, but all were extremely motivated to improve their digital capacity. Another thing that they all had in common was a need to diversify their funding sources which is a challenge we see amongst many BRIDGE participants from across the world. A lot of organisations have been stripped of funding from local and central governments. Even before the pandemic, they were having to work really hard to find other sources of funding, and this has only been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19. We saw great engagement across those organisations and this turned into benefits for them in terms of increased confidence in their ability to fundraise online, as well as their confidence in their ability to develop and implement digital strategies.
That pilot gave us a taste of what we could achieve, just by working with a small group of organisations, and it very much hammered home the fact that the need is still there. Three years on from the start of the pandemic, we've seen that the need for digital capacity amongst those types of organisations is still very prominent. Growing up in Ireland has given me an understanding of the complications in the political situation in Ireland. I think a lot of these charities and nonprofit organisations are the glue holding communities together and filling gaps that the government doesn't have the capacity to fill.
The ability to work with those organisations on a wider scale, to help them reach more people, showcase their work and continue to deliver their impact is very, very exciting for me, and the rest of the Lightful team as well.
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