The Gaza Toy Drive is a humanitarian aid mission that aims to provide children in Gaza, Palestine, with new toys, educational items, medical aid and clothes. They believe these are essential to having some semblance of a normal childhood, despite the many challenges that they face in life. They aim to provide children with things that represents a normal childhood from psychological and educational perspectives, and physical necessity and comfort.
The team is raising funds for the shipment of thousands of boxes collected from the good people of Ireland, UK and Denmark. Volunteers have worked tirelessly to pack over 7 containers full to capacity with new toys, books, bikes, clothing and medical supplies. Everything is itemised and packed and ready to be shipped, they have started crowdfunding to raise the necessary funds to get the goods to Gaza. I spoke with one of the organizers Ahmed Salti on how they have managed to get others involved in their mission, including Professor Noam Chomsky.
1. Why did you decide to turn to crowdfunding?
“Involving people that stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and reaching out to anyone that is willing to learn and participate in a humanitarian mission focused on children without any political affiliation has been our primary aim aside from bringing the very much needed items to the children in Gaza. Involving people and providing them with a platform/channel in which they can express their support without needing to take any side while raising awareness, documenting and reporting first hand stories of families and children prior to the recent attacks.”
2. How have you promoted your campaign?
“Facebook has been an important tool to describe our mission and to involve people. We use major social platforms, like Twitter and YouTube. Additionally, we have reached out to organisations and media channels and websites to promote it further.”
3. Was it important for you to have an established online community of support before crowdfunding?
“It’s very important for us to involve people from all walks of life, youth and adults, thus giving them an opportunity to show and express their support and solidarity directly to the people in Gaza and to connect people from outside of Gaza with people in Gaza.”
4. How has integrating visual media helped tell your story and engage support?
“This has been a very powerful and necessary tool to engage and inform people about the project. These media tools will keep being a primary tool in every stage of the project and more importantly when we arrive to Gaza with the donations to report and document and following on from our return as we talk to schools, community groups, and many other groupings in order to increase awareness and further the potential for change.”
5. What does it mean for the Gaza Toy Drive to have endorsements from the likes of Professor Noam Chomsky and Human Rights Activist Denny Cormier?
“It’s extremely important, not only for the credibility of the project but also for people and children in Gaza. It will show them that people do care and that they haven’t been forgotten. We are very honoured and proud to have such individuals endorsing our project and it has served to integrate and connect the various supportive projects that are being carried out by other individuals like ourselves.”
6. How have you used the FundRazr ‘Team’ Feature to invite others to join you in your efforts?
“It’s a very good tool and unique from many other crowdfunding sites. It provides additional way to share aside from Facebook that utilise contacts we won’t be able to reach to without it. We have used it by invitation and that has been helpful.”
7. What has been a challenge while crowdfunding?
“The tools provided and the focused integration of Facebook in FundRazr has been great and needed greatly for our campaign. The challenges are to keep the momentum and the traffic consistent. We try to post updates by including new media and photos in a regular basis. It is a challenge to reach new audiences and requires much time to share on all of the social media groupings that are not linked directly to our pages.”
8. What has been the highlight of your crowdfunding experience so far?
“The highlights has been the engagement and the support that has been shown, the participation in sharing the project and the interest and solidarity.”
9. Do you have any advice for others who want to start crowdfunding?
“To involve as many people as possible, engage them and make them part of the project. We have dedicated 100% of our lives to this project since May 2014 outside our working life and we need to get these most valuable goods to the people that need them so desperately as soon as is possible.”
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