Purpose Built and Hungry to Heed the Call

By : Burr Purnell


To help NPO’s and NGO’s around the world amplify their messages during the COVID-19 outbreak, VidMob is working more closely than ever with nonprofits to give them a leg-up.

Did you hear that, that gasp? It’s the collective gut punch that non-profits around the world are feeling as they try to figure out how they’re going to raise the funds they need to operate during and, frankly, after the COVID-19 outbreak. In the last few weeks, I received numerous emails from organizations that are terrified that their funding will be usurped by the pandemic. And, it just may.

But let’s hope something better happens. Because without hope, what else do we have? Fear, yes, but let’s choose to not go there. Let’s choose hope. With hope, you and I can manifest the outcomes we want for the people and organizations that matter most.

VidMob is a creative technology platform on a mission to democratize creativity and help build capacity for nonprofits. We don’t believe it’s right that nonprofits and social enterprises—the folks that have the most important stories to share—often don’t, because of resource constraints. VidMob is changing this. Through VidMob Gives, we’re inviting and partnering with a select group of 501(c)3’s, who align with the 17 UNSDG  (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) initiatives, to receive high-performance videos to power social media campaigns in 2020.

Back to hope and our quest to democratize creativity so nonprofits are on a more level playing field. Two weeks ago, I was introduced to a truly remarkable man, Jeff Rogers. Jeff is the CEO of Child Legacy International, an NGO doing work in Malawi and Zimbabwe in Africa. CLI works to bring opportunity to the people of Africa “by breaking the cycle of poverty and helping people help themselves.” On a shoe-string, Jeff started Child Legacy in 1987 with the support of his wife, Karen Rogers.

When Jeff and I first connected via WhatsApp on February 24th, the coronavirus hadn’t yet sucked every molecule of oxygen from the world’s news. Wuhan and the coronavirus were household names and above the fold, but the WHO had yet to declare the virus a worldwide pandemic.

Jeff and I began our discussion about how VidMob could help his organization in a meaningful way. My mind centered on creating a few short, uplifting videos to highlight the many successes resulting from the CLI’s programs. Jeff, in turn, would use these assets on his fundraising trip to the US in late March to rally donors.

Fast-forward two weeks to our second WhatsApp call with Jeff, and the tone of the conversation had changed dramatically. The sky had fallen on Jeff, and he was at a complete loss about what to do. Below is the note I wrote on Slack to the VidMob staff about Jeff’s situation:

March 12th

Good morning. I just got off a call with Jeff Rogers, the CEO of Child Legacy. For the past 36 years, Child Legacy, a non-profit based in Malawi, has transformed the lives of African children by providing opportunities that break the generational cycle of poverty and despair. 

Every spring, Jeff travels to the US for his annual fundraising tour in order to raise the money for the thousands of “forgotten-children” he and his organization care for. Malawi is the third poorest country in the world. Zimbabwe’s not far behind. Sadly, last night, Jeff canceled his trip due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Although Jeff and I are thousands of miles from each other and talking via WhatsApp, his sadness and worry were palpable; without fresh funding, he would not be able to continue to support these children.

“Burr, how am I going to connect with my donors in the US? What should I do? I have no plan B. I’ve never needed one.” I suggested that perhaps VidMob Gives could help him craft his first-ever fundraising video—a virtual call-to-action. I told him to pull out his iPhone, look straight into the camera and speak from the heart: “I’m sorry that I’m not able to be with you in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the children still need your support. This year we’re rebuilding their…”

Silence. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds. Me: “Jeff? Jeff, are you still there? Jeff?” With a quiver in his voice, “Would VidMob be willing to do that for us? Can you tell me how much something like that would cost?” Me: “Nothing, Jeff. It will cost you nothing. We’re here to support you and the incredible work you’re doing. You are improving the lives of so many young people, it’s the least we can do.”

To all of you that work at VidMob, I’m so proud to work alongside you for a company that cares for its people and stands in solidarity to use creativity as a force for good.

Since writing this blog post, Jeff and his team have shot and posted four new video assets to the VidMob platform, Creative Studio. It’s now our job to sift through the footage and cut the CLI’s first-ever virtual fundraising video. The video will be posted to CLI’s YouTube channel, as well as embedded into emails targeting their sustaining donor list.

In the footage, Jeff’s message to the board and to his donors comes straight from the heart. He laments about the pandemic and the unfortunate situation they are in and asks that they not forget about the critical work that Child Legacy is doing on the ground. “We’re not going anywhere and we will continue to need support now and into the future.”

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught one thing, it’s that we are all connected on this planet. There really are no borders. People are basically the same everywhere. What effects one group quickly matters to others as well. Although we appear independent, we are actually interdependent.