Africans in the Diaspora co-founded and led the Africa Responds initiative, a collaborative campaign through which African organizations and allies pooled their resources, networks, and collective voices to respond to the Ebola outbreak.
Recognizing the socio-economic and political roots and implications of the outbreak, Africa Responds promoted contextualized and nuanced dialogue, making sure the voices and Actions of Africans were part of the broader narratives on Ebola in the media and development discourse. The resources raised through Africa Responds supported grassroots organizations that provided critical services on the ground.
(1) Raise financial resources to support locally born and led grassroots organizations in countries affected by Ebola (2) Shift the mainstream media narrative of Ebola to include more African voices and organizations.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Africa Responds was primarily an online campaign. AiD used Africa Responds' website, email lists, and social media platforms, as well as AiD's, to share information daily and seek support. They also conducted direct media outreach to get stories of the grassroots response to Ebola published.
Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), recognizing that a collective African response was necessary to raise resources and shift the negative narrative, especially in the West, brought together individuals and organizations with diverse backgrounds to execute the campaign.
This was a collective effort that inserted African voices into the humanitarian response. This is especially important since all too often, particularly in emergencies, there is an emphasis of international relief and action. Africa Responds, by building a collective African network, by mobilizing resources from Africans and friends of Africa, and by inserting its work into mainstream media platforms ensured when it came to Ebola, Africans were active and visible.
The campaign mobilized over $100,000 from diasporans and allies of Africa to support ten organizations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. It also received coverage from U.S. mainstream media platforms such as Washington Post, BuzzFeed, CNN, and The Guardian.
In doing so, it ensured that local organizations received support, and that their work and the response of Africans was part of the media and development discourse on Ebola.
One of the biggest challenges AiD faced was that in times of emergencies people tend to forget what they know about best practices. For example, generally, there is a growing discourse in development that recognizes the role of local organizations in social change. However, in an emergency situation like Ebola that requires medical expertise, most donors and international organizations jumped to action to mobilize an international response, without including and supporting local organizations.
Over 80 percent of Ebola resources went to a handful of 5 or 6 international organizations; local groups received very, very little. Fighting this entrenched bias takes more time than one campaign, but Africa Responds certainly made significant inroads that can be built on for the future.
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE DONOR
Getting institutional support from foundations. Most assume if AiD wants to mobilize the diaspora in philanthropy, then they don't need any institutional support.
Since Africa Responds is already an established brand, it is important to conduct ongoing outreach and build a wider base for the next humanitarian response that may incite collective African action.
It will also be important for the group to partner with more organizations based in Africa. Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) gave Africa Responds an independent brand, which was important in building a coalition. In the future, it is also important to be more visible about the organizations behind it like AiD so that people understand the base that sustains Africa Responds.
DONATION AMOUNT (USD)
WHY IS THIS BRAVE PHILANTHROPY
Africans in the Diaspora challenges traditional philanthropy by building a platform for Africans around the world to pool their resources and invest in African organizations thereby building institutionalized African diaspora philanthropy. It recognizes and harnesses African resources, skills, and voices for social change in Africa.
It is the first US-based organization working to build African diaspora philanthropy.